Last week we reported that Facebook saw a decline in unique visitors over the past six months, indicating perhaps that the craze is starting to level off for users. Now reports have surfaced that show Facebook's United States advertising growth slowing down to a third of what it was in 2011. After growing at highly impressive rates during the first three quarters of 2011 (dancing around the 60% range), advertising growth fell by more than half to 30% in the fourth quarter of 2011, and early parts of 2012.
The author of the report and Vice President of Media and Entertainment at IDC, Karsten Weide, told the LA Times that there are two main reasons for the slowing growth:
For one, Facebook did not create its own segment, unlike Google with search advertising. Instead Facebook decided to enter a populated display advertising market, in turn, limiting growth. And secondly, advertisers are realizing that display ads on Facebook are simply not that effective.
"The effectiveness of advertising on Facebook is just really terrible," Karsten said. "Advertisers are realizing that Facebook isn't as effective as they first thought. They're pulling their money and taking it elsewhere."
Karsten’s words comes as the social marketing analytics firm 33Across reports that client advertising agencies and brands are beginning to focus less of their attention on Facebook compared with the rest of the Web. Surveying 2,200 agencies and brands in June, 80% of respondents said the “rest of Web” receives more of their team’s attention now than Facebook (up 11% from March).
Despite these numbers, it’ll be hard for marketers moving forward to ignore a platform that houses nearly a billion pairs of eyeballs. While many users have been complaining lately that Facebook is starting to become more like MySpace (in the sense that the focus is on advertiser interests, and not so much on the user experience), there has is no other platform where consumers so willingly to spill out their tastes and information to marketers. Facebook’s user data will continue to be instrumental to marketers, despite the click rates.