Advertisers clamoring for deeper engagement with Facebook's 150 million members will soon have the ability simply to ask them what they are thinking, and then display the results for all to see -- or even better, comment on.
The social network this week will begin beta testing ads that allow marketers to poll Facebook members. The new units are the latest example of Facebook Engagement Ads, a program launched in August to more closely integrate advertisers into the fabric of the site.
The first two advertisers to use the polling ads will be Careerbuilder and Papa John's.
In the run-up to the Super Bowl, Careerbuilder will ask Facebook members which team they think will win the game, the Pittsburgh Steeler or the Arizona Cardinals. When users make their pick, they are shown the results so far, as well as how their friends voted. They will also have the option to be taken to the Careerbuilder fan page.
After the Super Bowl, the career-services site will run one or more of the commercials it ran during the game, with new questions relating to the spots. It will also be offering a "virtual gift" featuring an item from the commercials.
"It's really four different components, and they all tie back to Careerbuilder, and they all tie into our Super Bowl spots," Lori McInerney, director of strategic initiatives at Careerbuilder, said. "People love the Super Bowl, so hopefully they will draw a lot of attention and drive a lot of traffic to our pages."
The ads will appear either on the right-hand side of the screen or in the News Feed, where it will be shaded and marked as a sponsored item. The beta period for the ads is expected to run through the spring and early summer, said a spokeswoman for Facebook.
Facebook launched the series of Engagement Ad units in August with advertisers like Adidas, Betty Crocker and Dreamworks. The first ads allowed Facebook members to become "fans" of advertisers or view trailers and leave comments without leaving the page.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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