The site has characterized the test as experimental, as it tweaks ads to make them more social.
Facebook is currently testing ratings and reviews within ad units, a spokesperson for the social site has confirmed with ClickZ. First spotted yesterday by the blog AllFacebook.com, the test ads include Facebook's thumbs-up "Like" icon, a user rating between 1 and 5 stars, a short comment, and then the user's name. (See image below.)
The Palo Alto, CA-based Internet giant has been toying with the idea of making ads more social since introducing its open graph platform last April. Facebook spokesperson Annie Ta wouldn't comment about how long the ratings and reviews ads have been tested or whether they will be rolled out in the future. "This is a really small, experimental test, and we don’t have any further details to share at this time," Ta said, while briefly responding to a set of questions via e-mail.
At any rate, if the socially-bolstered ads do eventually become a mainstay on the site, it would certainly draw the interest of marketers. As has recently been the case in Facebook ads, the name in the ad would apparently always be a friend of the viewer. Therefore, seeing such a friend's rating and review of a product or service could in theory increase click-through rates.
Patrick Toland is U.S. manager director for TBG Digital, where he helps place Facebook.com ads for brands like JetBlue, EA Sports, and Dell. Toland said the test represents the social site's recently increased usage of the Like button, which began to appear in ads during May.
"I don't know exactly why they'd do it, but it'd seem to me that they would attempt to take a path to make their ads more social in nature," he said. "But I think it really goes back to [Facebook's] algorithm, and, 'How can I make my ads more consumer-friendly?'"
Lastly, Dennis Yu, the AllFacebook.com blogger who reported the test, offered an intriguing question in his post about the possible marketing allure of the ratings and reviews ad format. "If you’re a cosmetic surgeon with 500 fans of your page, what would you pay to be able to tell all the friends of those 500 people about the positive experience?"
Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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