Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Facebook trials advertising in news feed

Advertising within a users’ news feed is nothing new from Facebook but recent steps taken by the site will see ‘sponsored stories’ appear on the feed with the user having not previously ‘liked’ the particular brand. The move signifies a bid by the social networking site to generate increased revenue from advertising by helping brands gain more exposure, all in the midst of the sites falling share prices.
Although still in the trial stages, this news does suggest a certain disregard for the user. However, Facebook have stressed that they will not overwhelm users with ads and wish to only sponsor social ads which will, ‘make it easier for advertisers to reach new audiences so they can be more social’. Facebook continued to state that there are ‘limits in place to ensure people’s news feeds are not filled with advertising’ and only relevant ads will be shown, i.e. those linked to the users’ ‘likes’. The plan is also in keeping with Facebook’s usual policy of ‘trial and introduction’, in which users can voice their opinions to help the site understand the results of the trial.
If this were to go ahead it has been suggested that the current approaches of brands on Facebook may become ‘defunct’. At present, the focus of the brands is to gain a ‘like’ from users so they can then proceed to market and connect with them. The Drumnotes that with this news, a brand could reach its target audience with a huge budget with no need for a following. Yet brands won’t be too worried as it is still about engaging the user and sparking an interaction, not a mere view or ‘like’. We cannot get ahead of ourselves anyway as Facebook look into trialling the idea.
During these trials it is likely to come up against some resolute opposition from users who wish to protect the privacy of their news feeds. The news feed was once a place to just see family and friends’ activity, as well as any other interests. The major brands have gained exposure in this area through their ‘trusted’ nature and successful campaigns which interact with users. If any brands were able to find a place in a users’ news feed, through association, it does seem to have gone a bit far.
The plan indicates the way Facebook may go in the coming months. The sites relationship with major brands will be key in recouping their losses in their share prices, so it is sensible to ‘expect more moves to make brands increasingly visible’. Let’s just hope that Facebook carry this out in taste and maintain the stance they have been so quick to voice.


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