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Facebook to Eliminate Sponsored Stories

  |  January 10, 2014   |  Comments

As of April 9, domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be served to users.

Marketers as well as the general public have had a love-hate relationship with Facebook's Sponsored Stories advertisements. The ads can convert very well, but many users found Sponsored Stories creepy, as Facebook started turning pages you liked into ads, using your name and profile picture.

Sponsored stories are the ads that appear within your news stream when someone you're friends with likes a Facebook brand or business page. The owner of that brand or business has paid to highlight that like, in the hope that you might click like or click through to the page as well.

Now the social network has officially announced that it is scrapping Sponsored Stories entirely. For advertisers, as of April 9, domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be served to users, as per the announcement on the developer's roadmap:

Facebook will sunset the creation of sponsored stories

  • Page post and page like ads already automatically have the best social context (likes and comments) added. You may choose to add share social context by specifying social_prefs=['allow_shares'] on the adgroup. Existing page post and page like sponsored stories will continue to deliver so you must support fetching them.
  • Domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be allowed to be created. Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will cease to have delivery after April 9th.

Sponsored stories have been problematic to Facebook in the past, and many felt they would have a limited life expectancy for advertisers. Facebook was targeted with a class-action lawsuit over the fact they never obtained consent from users to use their names and profile pictures in relation with the sponsored stories. Facebook settled the case for $10 million.

Officially, Facebook is saying it is simply the continuing streamlining of their advertising offerings, something they had originally announced last year.

Last year, we announced some changes to simplify Facebook ads, including eliminating different types of ads that had the same purpose and making our ads look more consistent. We also announced that marketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, social context – stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant – is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.

This week, we gave notice to our ad partners that this change relating to sponsored stories will start in the first quarter of this year so they can update their tools and continue supporting the marketers they work with.

Advertisers can continue to use the sponsored stories until April 9.

If you haven't done so, as a user you can also change your settings for ads appearing on Facebook on their Ads settings page.

This article was originally published on Search Engine Watch.


Jennifer Slegg

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.

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