No Satisfaction: Advertising, Privacy Concerns Sink Facebook In Study By ACSI, ForeSee

By David Cohen 

Facebook’s efforts to ensure that advertising on the social network is unobtrusive and that ads are interesting to users are coming up short, according to the results of the July 2013 American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report, which was released Tuesday in partnership with customer experience analytics firm ForeSee, as 27 percent of respondents said advertising on Facebook interferes with their experience on the site, the highest among social networks.

Facebook also scored low when it came to users’ confidence that their personal information was protected, as it earned scores of four out of 10 or lower at a rate double those of other social networks.

The ACSI and ForeSee included seven social networks in their analysis — Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and YouTube — and they said the category as a whole fell 1.4 percent from last year’s study, to a score of 68.

Facebook and LinkedIn finished with two of the lowest scores in the history of the ACSI, mainly due to concerns over advertising and privacy.

Only 28 percent of U.S. Facebook users who were part of the survey said they access the social network via mobile devices, which contradicts reports of mobile growth by Facebook.

Facebook debuted on the ACSI with a score of 64 in 2010, and it saw that rise to a 66 in 2011 before plunging to a 61 in 2012 and rebounding slightly to a 62 this year.

ForeSee Senior Director of Mobile, Media, and Entertainment Eric Feinberg said:

The noise factor can detract from immersive experiences like Facebook and Twitter. Neither one is curated or edited, so users have to filter through ads, banter, and irrelevant posts to find useful or entertaining threads or connections. Wikipedia, as a managed site without advertising, doesn’t have that problem.

ForeSee President and CEO Larry Freed added:

Advertising may be the necessary evil of e-business. Most e-businesses begin as a free service to gain traction with consumers and increase market share, but eventually they need to find a way to monetize their business. Unfortunately, consumers generally perceive the increase in advertising as detracting from their online experience.

And ACSI Founder and Chairman Claes Fornell said:

From 10,000 feet, the erosion of customer satisfaction with e-business suggests that the sector will have a bumpy road ahead. But the battle for customer preference is playing out at the customer-level. Companies that can find a way to make money without compromising the customer experience will please both their users and investors.

Readers: Were you surprised by any of the findings in the study by ACIS and ForeSee?