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Facebook Tests New Actions in Sponsored Stories

  |  February 14, 2012   |  Comments

Social context ads appear ripe for new verbs, more nuanced meanings.

A limited number of Facebook advertisers are testing what appears to be the next iteration of Sponsored Stories. They are targeting the social site's users who have played particular video games, watched specific videos, or listened to certain songs, among other possible examples.

Over the last year, brands have been able to run Sponsored Stories - or social context ads - based on what users "like" on Facebook or where they've checked in. Now, the Menlo Park, CA-based firm is adding other types of actions.

The development, first reported by InsideFacebook, comes less than a month after Facebook unveiled 60 frictionless sharing apps from brands like Hulu, Rotten Tomatoes, LivingSocial, and Foodspotting. These apps will bring new actions such as "want" and "own" - descendents of the "Like" button - to Facebook and sites that use its plug-ins. Eventually, the verbs will appear in display ads on the site's right-hand side, as well as in users' news feeds while labeled as "featured." When it comes to retail, seeing what shoes, clothes, movie tickets, music downloads, and so on a friend "wants" or "owns" within a brand ad could positively impact the performance of paid Facebook promos.

Since implementing "want" and "own" buttons in November, one of Facebook's partners - Payvment/Shopping Mall - has seen customers rise from 500,000 to more than 1.3 million without making an ad buy on the social site. The Facebook-only e-commerce player has been a partner since the f8 developer conference last fall, and it credits the new buttons with spurring a substantial holiday sales period. The Amazon-styled business has placed the "want" and "own" buttons next to each of its thousands of SKUs.

"We have always had the 'like' button on every single product from all 150,000 of our sellers," Payvment CEO Christian Taylor recently told ClickZ. "Essentially the 'like' button never worked for shopping... We [began testing] the 'want' and 'own' buttons about a month and a half ago. Without a doubt, 'likes' dropped significantly. What we see now is people creating wish lists."

Meanwhile, agencies and brands will be chomping at the bit to hear how played, want, own, and other verbs fare within Sponsored Stories ad units. And with Facebook's IPO expected to come in May, there's little doubt execs want to bolster its ad products. Diversifying Sponsored Stories is one way to do that, as is Facebook's expected introduction of mobile ads next month.



Christopher Heine

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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