Have you been seeing your friends' faces in Facebook ads?
The Palo Alto, CA-based company's "Sponsored Stories" have begun popping up in the site's right-hand column of ads. The rectangular-shaped social-context promos were launched three weeks ago and can leverage Facebook profile pictures from those who "like" the advertiser as well as their word-for-word posts.
Levi's, 1-800-Flowers.com, Amnesty International, DonorsChoose.org, The Nature Conservancy, charity: water, and Malaria No More are among the early brands to leverage the format. Indeed, nonprofits seem to be testing the ad offering in considerable numbers.
Alyssa Rapp, CEO of the wine community Bottlenotes, appears in the 1-800-Flowers.com "Sponsored Story" seen in the gallery at left. Contacted by ClickZ, Rapp said she wasn't aware of appearing in the ad and commented about potential consumer/marketer reactions to the promos.
"As long as I have opted in by 'liking' the brand, I don't feel Facebook is overstepping by connecting the dots for my social graph," she said. "I do understand that some people are going to feel like it's over-reaching. But at the end of the day, when you 'like' a brand, it already appears on your newsfeed page… and this makes it easier in letting your friends know what you 'like.'"
Facebook users can set their privacy controls to limit when they appear in "Sponsored Stories." The promos are available to marketers on the site's self-service platform in a comparable manner to other ads, and are purchased on an impression- or per-click basis.
There are four types of "stories," from Facebook's perspective: "Like stories" depict users who have chosen to "like" a brand; "page post stories" contain posts/status updates from a business's page and are shown only to "likes;" "app stories" include messages between app users, such as video game players; and "check-in stories" consist of posts via the geo-social platform Facebook Places.
Will users appreciate "Sponsored Stories?"
Rapp said, "I don't spend 20 hours a day on Facebook… If I miss something that one of my friends 'liked,' you could actually argue the ad is a benefit to the user by serving it up. And as a marketer, I could certainly see potentially leveraging this new functionality in Facebook advertising."
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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.
March 19, 2014