Do Facebook’s Sidebar Ads Work?

The short answer: Yes.

In my most recent study, we started from that question. We checked the difference between the effectiveness of Facebook’s two desktop ad placements: in-stream ads and sidebar ads. Effectiveness was in this case the most basic outcome of advertising: minimising ad avoidance.

In our experiment, we found that sidebar ads are generally more easily avoided than in-stream ads. The ‘native’ placement of in-stream ads has the power to blur boundaries between content & advertising. People pay more attention to the in-stream ads.


  1. When your audience is not involved with your product, for example for new products or when targeting a new audience. When the goal is raising awareness among a non-involved audience, or advertising a low-involvement product, sidebar ads are less intrusive and are better accepted.
  2. When people are occupied in searching for a certain piece of information, for example updates of a certain page or friend, ads in the message stream are impeding. Sidebar ads are less avoided in this case.

Conclusion: Sidebar ads serve their purpose as less-intrusive ad format. For product that are not yet known by the user or when users are occupied this ‘voluntary’ ad format works better

Check the full paper here:

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