Facebook has officially announced the end of Sponsored Story ads on the social media network, and many are wondering how this change will impact advertising on Facebook. The reality? Not much.
Facebook has been working to evolve their advertising offerings over the past year and businesses now have many more opportunities for advertising than before. In the announcement ending Sponsored Story ads, Facebook said they are moving toward ads with more “social context.”
For a lot of people, the announcement raised a lot of questions—one of the most common asking what a Sponsored Story even is and how it works. Basically, if your friend likes a page, that page could then pay to promote posts in your newsfeed and identify the friend who likes their page.Sponsored Stories appeared in the newsfeed or on the right side of the newsfeed.
Sponsored Story ads were the first of their kind and actually spurred a lawsuit against Facebook and raised privacy concerns about social media advertising. The main issue with Sponsored Stories is that they used page likes as an endorsement without the knowledge of those who like their page and without compensation.
In the announcement posted to their privacy page, Facebook wrote that the elimination of Sponsored Stories is a step toward simplifying advertising on Facebook and eliminating duplicate services. They also indicated that while Sponsored Stories will be no more, social activity from friends will be enabled for all ads on Facebook.
It’s important to note that the change basically retires the name Sponsored Stories, and applies the same principles that were so controversial to all Facebook ads. This is good news for marketers, who can benefit from “endorsements” from their followers.
Facebook wrote, “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.” Individual Facebook users can turn off the feature by adjusting their Ads and Friends setting, but by default it is turned on.
It may make it slightly more difficult for businesses to earn page likes, especially if users are concerned that their like may be used in advertising the page to their friends. As more users become aware of how Facebook is using their social interactions, they may limit their activity on Facebook.
While Facebook may have retired “Sponsored Stories,” advertisers still have the option to purchase page post ads and page like ads. And, like Sponsored Stories, if a friend has liked the page or post, the ad will indicate their interaction.
Page post ads and page like ads appear in both mobile and desktop newsfeeds as well as in the right column. Additional ads include app ads and domain ads, both of which only appear in the right column area.
Facebook’s page post ads have evolved beyond Sponsored Stories, and they now offers four varieties—link ads, photo ads, text ads and video ads. All ads are identified as sponsored content. Each type of content offers different benefits for advertisers.
Advertisers can specifically target their ads to their desired audience, and still have all the functionality and targeting options as before. The elimination of Sponsored Story ads on Facebook is merely a consolidation of services and the retirement of a name that many associate with privacy violations.
Expect Facebook to continue to find new ways to generate advertising revenue. Advertising on social media networks has changed dramatically in the past few years. As Facebook and others seek out new ways to generate revenue from advertising, they will need to find a way to balance the frequency of ads and user satisfaction. By offering ads that are more relevant and encourages social interaction from users, Facebook hopes to do both.