Facebook aims to boost advertising clout with Nielsen partnership

To boost its presence in big brand advertising, Facebook will unveil a partnership with media research firm Nielsen tomorrow to give better analytics on how ads fare on the social network.

Called Nielsen Brand Lift, the program will let advertisers who are also Nielsen customers figure out how their campaigns are performing by polling Facebook users who have seen the ads on the social network’s site.

[Update: The surveys will be in the sponsored messages space on Facebook's homepage and will be controlled so that users don't participate too often. Facebook said no personally identifiable information will be collected either.]

After blowing past 300 million users last week, Facebook wants to become an influential and sizable company on the order of Yahoo and Google, according to an interview we had with Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s vice president of growth, mobile and international expansion last week. To do this, it will need to establish itself as a formidable presence in the advertising market.

But Facebook’s approach to advertising will probably be fairly different from Google’s. Sites like Google and Twitter have a stronger ability to capture “intent,” i.e. identifying when a user is actively pursuing a good or service. When users are on Facebook, they may be playing games, looking at friends’ profiles and actively socializing instead of looking to answer a specific question or solve a specific problem.

Hence, Facebook’s value proposition to advertisers may be one that’s more focused on creating awareness or meaningful experiences around brands. Later on when a user is at the point of purchase, they’ll remember the brand. This is where the display ad comes in and indeed, the Facebook is driving up its market share, according to the WSJ:

“Facebook had 9.1% share of display ad views in the U.S. in July 2009, up from 6.8% in January 2009, according to comScore Inc. That put it in second place behind Yahoo and ahead of both Microsoft Corp. and AOL, which had shares of 5.7% and 3.6% respectively, comScore said.”

Breaking into advertising hasn’t been a smooth path for the social networking startup. Facebook finally laid to rest its ill-fated Beacon advertising program on Friday with a $9.5 million settlement that will go toward a foundation dedicated to online privacy. Launched in 2007, Beacon was a controversial advertising program that tracked and broadcasted what users bought on other Web sites.

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