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by Liz Mensching

Young adults are more receptive to advertisements sent via e-mail or direct mail than personalized ads on social networks such as Facebook, according to a recent study released by Ball State University and another marketing company.

The report, “Messaging Behaviors Preferences and Personas,” by Ball State and ExactTarget, surveyed 18- to 34-year-olds and revealed information about consumers’ views of marketing messages.

Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of research and strategy, said the study sent an important message to advertisers.

“Yes, teens and college students are interacting in new ways,” Stewart said, “but it’s not necessary to market to all of these venues. It’s more important to respect the distinct opinions of people.”

Stewart said the report showed that people are comfortable with receiving urgent travel and financial alerts via text messages but are weary about sale alerts.

Mike Bloxham, director of insight and research at Ball State’s Center for Media Design, said he thought people preferred e-mail and direct mail because of its familiarity.

“E-mail and direct advertising are opt-in marketing experiences,” Bloxham said. “Networks are more personal experiences.”

He used Facebook as an example of this mentality. He said people view ads on social networks as intrusions because their page is often customized to fit their personality, wants and needs.

In addition, social networks don’t rely on funding from advertisements to run the Web sites, Bloxham said, so ads on the sites don’t make the service cheaper for users.

Bloxham said the Ball State blog service, “Notes from the Digital Frontier”, was responsible for alerting advertisers to the growing popularity of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and to the emerging marketing opportunities in these media outlets at a conference in Indianapolis.

The idea for the study was launched as a result of this interaction.

Stewart said the relationship with Center for Media Design benefited ExactTarget.

“CMD has the Middletown studies and consumer reactions that puts a realistic spin on what people really do, instead of ideal survey answers,” Stewart said. “CMD students are very in touch with the business world. They understand the industry and real solutions, which makes them very attractive job candidates.”

Stewart said his company plans to work with Ball State again in the future, starting with round-table discussions at Ball State and in Indianapolis.