Facebook’s Sponsored Stories advertising integration has Internet marketers, business owners, and even bloggers quivering with excitement and anticipation. Facebook’s justification for this twist stems from the viral product recommendations that flow between friends and family. Facebook equates that recommendation system as the launching concept of Sponsored Stories.
Facebook advertisers pay for a portion of the topic-related advertising that Sponsored Stories show; in essence, they are sponsoring the specific entry that the Facebook friends like.
The highly targeted marketing tool scans content of Facebook account holders’ pages for advertiser-specific or category mentions. When the account holder uses any of the four trigger actions—marking like, checking in, posting, or has a customized application, the Sponsored Story platform initiates, and the advertiser who pays for inclusion now has an ad showing on the friend’s screen.
Facebook is offering two ad placement locations, the primary of which is to the right of the news feeds. The sponsoring business would have a percentage of check-ins at their physical stores, for example, show on the account page of friends of the user checking in. The sponsor’s content wouldn’t show, but the ad and the friend’s action would.
The sponsor advertiser gets a dual boost: the ad itself and a heightened Facebook profile. The hope is that friends and followers actually seeing the user using a product or buying from the store will increase brand name reputation, trust, and sales. Additionally, the two-pronged exposure via the ad and the news feed prompt has advertisers and marketers jumping twice.
Facebook profits with increased advertising revenue. Advertisers profit with extraordinarily targeted ads. Facebook users, though, aren’t entirely sure about Sponsored Stories.
Paid, targeted advertising used to be primarily centered around a pay-per-click program. Website owners would enroll in the placement program, and the provider would place related ads on that website. The website owner would get paid for every click on one of those ads, whether a sale was made by the advertiser or not.
That’s choice. The advertiser chooses to pay for the advertising. The website owner chooses to have the ads placed, and the visitor chooses to click or not.
However, Facebook account holders have little choice. They cannot opt out of these content-scanning advertisements relating to their posts or on their screens. The only choices they have are putting up with the advertisements, which may or may not extend tracking to other browsing habits, or no longer using the world’s most popular social network. Users dislike either option.
But one underlying issue has yet to be answered: Each ad that runs on individual users’ screens isn’t a coincidental ad. It’s not like the friend drives the same route to work and passes the same billboard each morning. They have a choice of taking another route. How popular will Facebook remain when those friends and followers choose not to respond to entries? How many people will continue to frequent and use Facebook?
Facebook avows that private information isn’t leaked. But considering Facebook’s history with their Beacon project from 2007, shut down in 2009 following a 2008 lawsuit, do user’s have faith in that assertion? Only time—and Facebook’s account numbers—will tell.
About the Author
JC Ryan is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if online universities are right for them and helps them understand which online colleges and online courses they can choose from to reach their goals.
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