Brand­ed-con­tent ads receive, on aver­age, twice as many earned impres­sions as paid impres­sions on Face­book, accord­ing to Share­ablee.

If brands want to attract extra atten­tion for their ads on Face­book, they may be bet­ter off pay­ing a pub­lish­er or influ­encer to pro­duce a brand­ed-con­tent post through their Pages and pay­ing to pro­mote that post as an ad instead of a post pub­lished to the brand’s own Page.

On Face­book, peo­ple can extend an ad’s reach by shar­ing, lik­ing or com­ment­ing on it, which can send the ad into their friends’ News Feeds. As a result of this engage­ment, brand­ed-con­tent ads gen­er­ate twice as many earned, or viral, impres­sions as paid impres­sions, accord­ing to a study by social ana­lyt­ics firm Share­ablee. By com­par­i­son, stan­dard Face­book ads gar­ner less than one-tenth the num­ber of earned impres­sions com­pared to paid impres­sions.

Share­ablee exam­ined 833 brand­ed-con­tent ads from 10 pub­lish­er Pages and 265 stan­dard ads from 47 brand Pages that were run from July 2017 through Octo­ber 2017. From that sam­ple, the brand­ed-con­tent ads received 617,986 paid impres­sions and 1,248,448 earned impres­sions on aver­age, where­as the stan­dard ads received 375,489 paid impres­sions and 34,718 earned impres­sions on aver­age.

The study “cer­tain­ly does show that brand­ed con­tent is per­ceived by the aver­age view­er as being much more share­wor­thy,” said Share­ablee CEO Tania Yuki. Brand­ed-con­tent ads, on aver­age, received 7,103 shares per ad, while stan­dard ads aver­aged 253 shares per ad, per Share­ablee.

The news that peo­ple are more like­ly to share or oth­er­wise engage with a piece of brand­ed con­tent than a run-of-the-mill ad may not be so shock­ing. Peo­ple are also more like­ly to share a fun­ny video with their friends than a coupon. How­ev­er, the extent to which adver­tis­ers are able to accrue so many extra — and, impor­tant­ly — free impres­sions from a brand­ed-con­tent cam­paign may be a sur­prise.

When com­bin­ing a campaign’s organ­ic reach, paid reach and viral reach, viral reach account­ed for 46.82 per­cent of the impres­sions for a brand­ed-con­tent ad ver­sus 7.41 per­cent for a stan­dard ad, accord­ing to Share­ablee.

These stats should not be inter­pret­ed to mean that brands ought to can­cel their more tra­di­tion­al ads and redi­rect that mon­ey toward brand­ed-con­tent cam­paigns. It depends on the advertiser’s objec­tive. If a brand is seek­ing to max­i­mize atten­tion and min­i­mize spend, then a brand­ed-con­tent cam­paign may be the way to go. But a brand may only want to reach its tar­get audi­ence with an ad designed to per­suade them to pur­chase a prod­uct instead of one that pri­mar­i­ly enter­tains them.

Often­times peo­ple think about engag­ing con­tent and busi­ness-val­ue con­tent as if it were a ques­tion of ‘Would you pre­fer your right arm or your left leg?’ and the answer is ‘Ide­al­ly both,’” said Yuki.