Facebook has started placing ads within its news feed, meaning they now show up next to social updates from your friends.

The ads can only feature in a user’s news feed if they or a friend have already ‘liked’ the brand.

Although they are essentially the same as the Sponsored Stories (which already appear on the right-hand side of the screen), Facebook has labelled the new ads as ‘featured’ rather than as ads.

It is a subtle difference, but one that is presumably designed to make it less obvious that the content is actually a paid-for ad.

It only becomes clear that the content is an ad if you hover over the 'Featured' text at the bottom of the story, when a text box reveals it is sponsored content.

Facebook said that it was using the term ‘featured’ because it wanted to make it clear to people that they were seeing content from a page or person they had chosen to connect to.

It has also clarified that since people can see marketing messages from both pages they have and have not 'liked' elsewhere on Facebook, it wanted to ensure that marketers can only pay for stories to be featured in a news feed if a person has explicitly 'liked' the page.

Facebook realises that this will be a contentious issue for some users – they are, after all, placing ads in the only part of the site that had remained ‘pure’ – and as such the ads will appear at a rate of just one per day.

This also suggests that the ads will be positioned as premium content, like Twitter's promoted slots, so brands will probably have to pay a high price.

That said, as the ads will come from brands you have already chosen to interact with by ‘liking’ them, it may not annoy users too much if they see one additional update per day. That's assuming Facebook sticks to its promise in the long run.

Either way, a user can always avoid the ads simply by limiting the number of pages they ‘like’ in the first place.

David Moth

Published 11 January, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (4)

Alasdair Townsend

Alasdair Townsend, Managing Partner at Sherlock Communications

Yes but of course they make deliking pages a deliberately arduous process.

Really not sure about this in the long-run - from a commercial or consumer sentiment point of view. Have promoted tweets really been that effective for brands on Twitter or generated that much revenue for Twitter itself?

Surely the whole point of creating content for your page likers is that you make it as relevant to them as possible - if it's relevant, people interact, thee edgerank is improved and more, hopefully 'similar people' see it. Simple, right?

For pages of more that 250,000, it's absurd to imagine that every update can be relevant for every liker. Common sense suggests a good engagement/'talking about' ratio might be 8-10% with concurrent viral reach.

Surely there's nothing wrong with that.

The whole point of Facebook is that it should allow you to talk to the right people at the right time, not more people at the wrong time. It will be really interesting to see the impact on unlike rates for brands who take trial the feature.

Introducing this only a few months after the public 'talking about metric' seems almost contradictory.

To me at least, It seems to suggest a misunderstanding of the whole nature of the medium.

over 6 years ago

Peter Gould

Peter Gould, Senior PPC Analyst at Epiphany

As far as I understand it, the sponsored stories you will see when this launches won't just be from pages you like, but also the pages your friends are interacting with too. Therefore it won't be as simple as "a user can always avoid the ads simply by limiting the number of pages they ‘like’ in the first place".

As Facebook spokesperson Annie Ta confirmed to Clickz.com (http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2134032/facebook-brings-ads-news-feed) last month when this first broke:

"You will only see Sponsored Stories in your news feed about your friends or people you are connected to. You will never a post from a page you are not a fan of, or from people who are not your friends."

I feel the main aim of these is to actually encourage greater numbers of 'likes' for pages through social endorsement from friends, rather than trying to put existing users off the pages they're already connected to (although I'm sure there will be a small element of that too).

over 6 years ago


Kimberly McCabe

Though I don't think it is arduous to dislike a brand - I do think it is fairly easy to "Hide all from Brand" from your newsfeed even though you like the page. I think companies can easily get overzealous.

over 6 years ago



Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one!
It's on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

about 6 years ago

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