Some media articles are pointing towards the "no" campaign, like this article in the Globe and Mail that says "Facebook ads just don't work: Poll" The problem is that if you go out an poll the "Average Joe" on the street they would tell you television ads don't work either. The point being the "Average Joe" on the street in this case is the wrong person to ask.
Companies that buy ads are the people to ask. GM is cancelling its ads on Facebook, but would you buy a car just because you saw a Facebook ad? Would you buy a car just because you saw a TV ad? Would you buy a car because of that radio ad advertising a free ipad 3 which each purchase? The only place I actually listen to the "radio" these days is guess where? Driving in my car! Hmmmm.....
Bigger question to ask is "why do people use social media"? There are lots of reasons but "I have a great gob of disposal income to spend today and I want to something to spend it on so I am logging into my facebook account" would be a notion pretty far down on most people's lists (those types would be better to log into their ebay accounts!)
Sites like Facebook are popular because they are good ways to "find out about stuff". Find out what your friends are doing, about that great hotel your cousin stayed at on their last ski trip, that great concert they saw last night, the great new Yoga instructor at the local studio your friend just told you about, that wonderful piano teacher that has been teaching their daughter for the past two years....
Social Media falls into the "word of mouth" category. I have attended quite a few concerts over the past few years I would not have known about if it were not for Facebook, either friends posting "inviting to events" or in some cases, yes - those dreaded online ads.
Have I ever purchased a can of Spam as a result of a Facebook ad? No. Have I attended a concert or found about a new health spa, Yoga Studio, personal trainer, music teacher, theatre event, artist gallery showing, poetry reading or some other public "event" because of Facebook? Yes!
So what's the difference? Well what is Facebook good at (why do people log in and use it?). Facebook is a good place to go to "find out about stuff". We go there to find out about what are families are up to, what our kids are up to (!), what are friends are up to, what are colleagues are up to, even what are elderly parents are up to (!). That's the frame of mind we are in when we are spending those couple of spare minutes checking into Facebook. Or we are posting what We are up to, something new and exciting in our own lives that we want to share with others.
Most advertisers are trying to sell "things", and I would agree Facebook is the wrong place to try to sell "things". Unless of course you are not selling "things", but "services" that have social value.