Facebook is testing a feature to see if users will pay a couple bucks to have their posts more prominently featured on the social site.
First reported by InsideFacebook.com on Friday morning, a Facebook rep later confirmed the development with ClickZ. "This particular test is simply to gauge people's interest in this method of sharing with their friends," spokesperson Alex Hollander wrote in an email.
According to InsideFacebook, part of the small test is occurring in New Zealand. Its sources have apparently viewed user posts placed atop news feeds marked "Highlighted." Pricing ranges from free to $2, InsideFacebook.com reported. Users can pay with a credit or debit card, PayPal, or Facebook Credits.
What kinds of Facebook users might pay to advance their posts? Perhaps musicians with gigs coming up or journalists with breaking news stories or authors trying to push a public reading.
"The end user may well find it to be a very useful tool to gain visibility for messages that are important to them, and rise above the huge volume of comments that flow through the news feed," said Ethan Hays, search director at New York ad agency Gyro. "From Facebook's perspective, it's simply another advertising product and, a potentially a very lucrative one."
The development aligns interestingly with Facebook's IPO, which reportedly will come on May 18. While potential investors in the Menlo, CA-based digital giant aren't worried about its audience prowess, some are concerned about the company's ability to monetize.
"If I were an investor in Facebook, I'd be upset if they weren't building and testing products like this," Hays added. "Testing out incremental, non-invasive ad products is to be expected of a company like Facebook, whose core product is a technology-based marketing platform. "
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.
June 20, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT