A new study has found that digital display ads contribute significantly more than social advertising on Facebook to the volume of conversations for marketers, both on and offline.


The research, commissioned by G/O Media, explored specific marketers in two big spending categories and for every tech and beverage brand in the study the results were clear. The technology and beverage industries were chosen based on their two distinct consumer purchasing mindsets and digital/social advertising spend.

The study concluded that the contribution from digital advertising to the average tech brand’s offline conversations is 15.8% vs 3.3% for paid social on Facebook. Online, the average tech brand has an 8.3% contribution from digital and 1.9% from paid social.

In the beverage category, the average brand had a 9.6% contribution from digital advertising on offline conversation vs 2.4% from paid social. Online, the average beverage brand had an 8.3% contribution from digital and 1.7% from paid social.

The study also found that digital display media is highly effective at both online and offline performance for brands. This means the digital advertising that consumers engage with isn’t siloed to the online space – it also impacts face-to-face and other offline conversations.

The third key finding from the study concerned the superior ROI from digital display vs. paid social on Facebook in terms of ability to drive offline and online conversations. The study looked at the value of an additional dollar of digital advertising vs paid social media on Facebook on increased offline and online conversations. It was found that digital ads have a higher estimated ROI than paid social for both offline and online. This was true for both categories.

Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs, said:

“There are a lot of assumptions made when it comes to social influence and what sparks it, but too often those assumptions lack empirical evidence. One of them is understanding what drives people to talk about brands, both online and offline.

“Knowing where to invest to drive social influence can make a big difference and a much-needed competitive edge for brands to prosper in a marketplace that is increasingly driven by consumer conversation and recommendations,” Keller added.

David Spiegel, Chief Revenue Officer of G/O Media, said:

“Word of mouth is essential to any successful marketing effort. For several years the perception balance has been tipped in favour of platforms where scale is massive but attention is limited.

“Combining user attention with contextual relevance has always been a strong driver of ad effectiveness and that is what publishers offer marketers. This study confirms the enduring value proposition of digital display advertising in driving both brand conversation and positive business outcomes,” Spiegel added.