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The new 'featured stories' function on Facebook has been activated, get ready for daily promotions
While Facebook has been flush with border advertisements and brands encouraging users to 'like' their page so that campaigns show up in their feed, users have otherwise been able to control what they see in their feed. But today is the beginning of the Facebook 'featured stories' advertising strategy.
We first heard about companies gaining the ability to pity-back and sponsor updates, that people make when naming their company or brand, a few weeks ago.
This new option was called 'sponsored stories' where a company, such as Target, could pay for the privilege of sponsoring any updates or posts that name their company or include a check-in at one of its locations. What this looks like is, if you have one or more friends that check-in or mention a Target, the company could pay to push that update to the top of your feed so that you see that interaction no matter when in the day it happened.
This feature is now being called a 'featured story' has started popping up in Facebook feeds in the UK, Australia and, as of this morning, the US. Not everyone may see these right away, especially since it depends on how active your friends are and how often they interact with big brands that are paying for this feature.
In December, Facebook was adamant that no more than one of these featured updates would show in a users' feed per day -- and some won't see any on some days since it has to do with your circle of friends.
The website will be introducing this new feature gradually in order to avoid the typical backlash from users when changes are made to the Facebook platform.
Users should also know that once you start seeing these featured updates, they can choose to hide them on a case by case basis. So, essentially, once you see one, you can delete it but the next day you may see another.
What might you see in your feed:
- When a friend 'likes' a brand
- When a friend uses an app
- When a friend checks in somewhere
Facebook has been looking for ways to further monetize and innovate the opportunities for the company to gain more partnerships and relationships with big brands as it starts the countdown to its expected spring IPO.
I caught up with Chad Hacker, the director of optimizer enablement with Trada, and he explained how brands can use the evolution of Facebook to improve their online connection.
Since Trada uses teams of campaign assistants to improve and adjust marketing for brands, they know how important it is to remain nimble to the changes of the Web environment. As Facebook changes the way it displays and markets ads, directors need to weigh what elements are most important to their company.
"People are prone to ad fatigue when they have seen the same ad two or three times," Hacker told me. "So having ways to change and refresh these advertisements is key in running an effective campaign."
The new Facebook featured stories could be seen as a way to take advantage of this ad fatigue, since you only see on ad per day and they are tied to something you are more likely to be interested in looking at.
"From our experience, the click through rate on sponsored campaigns are what we would call successful," Hacker said. "And it is a way that Facebook is able to find more space to monetize its service."
This newest addition to the Facebook advertising catalog could be the easiest way to incorporate paid components to the networking site's mobile app, which, until now, was completely missing the advertising element.
This feature will also easy fold in the upcoming integration that was announced with car manufacturer Mercedes Benz yesterday.
The Facebook functionality in the newest car models will allow people to quicly enter the locations they are going to and from -- I see brands like Starbucks and Target killing it with this new feature.
Since cars are already coming off the line with GPS integration, the ability for people to locate where their friends are or events are being held is a promising feature for this new partnership.
The Palo Alto-based company has also announced its interest in re-introducing gaming stories in users' feeds as an opportunity specific to third-party gaming companies that want to boost the sale of virtual goods on Facebook.
With an IPO coming between April and June 2012, experts in the field are estimating the company value to exceed $100 billion and that it will raise $10 billion from the IPO.
Those figures would place the social networking site as one of the largest offerings ever.
With more than 800 million users and a slew of advertisers and developers that pay for access to create applications and services on the site, Facebook has created a business model that many are ready to bet on.
All of these elements could add up to Facebook continuing to fill as much space as possible and will mean some cluttered and less personal feeds that view more like a product-placement filled movie than a personal connection.
Users may also find at least a mild annoyance that they are being turned into free sponsors of the brands they interact with. Perhaps users would find this to be least icky if they got some type of perk form it -- but alas, it looks like Facebook is the one with all the perks.
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