Sponsored Stories has migrated from small ads in the right-hand column, up to the Ticker, and now to where the reds are their deepest on heat maps showing where users’ eyeballs fall first and longest. Because of that, the News Feed is where social marketers have always wanted to be. But the only way to get there was through phenomenal content and a killer EdgeRank. Content only got more competitive, and EdgeRank went through its own changes, leaving many brands scratching their heads. But now…users’ News Feeds have become paid territory.
Will users accept Sponsored Stories in their News Feeds? Considering there was little to no outcry at all when Twitter let sponsored tweets into users’ tickers, the odds are high it will be accepted with a mere shrug. Sponsored Stories will be genuine and transparent. And Facebook says they’ll be used sparingly, with the average user seeing maybe one paid story a day.
But for marketers, this represents a new way to get your content to users. It brings paid, owned and earned media closer together than ever so each part can help ignite the others. User engagement in News Feeds is 3x higher than other spots such as tabs and apps, so making an appearance there as a brand was getting tougher and tougher. We think brands will warmly welcome the chance to pay to be where the eyeballs are, and we expect budgets will be shifted accordingly.
Then, of course, there’s mobile. 40% of Facebook users are accessing the network via mobile, with that number expected to skyrocket through 2012. Sponsored Stories in News Feeds can brilliantly leverage limited screen real estate and complement the anticipated Facebook mobile ads.
Facebook has amassed 800 million+ users. No fair-minded person would expect the company to never monetize this enormously impressive audience they’ve earned. Facebook is moving well down the road to making the platform a more effective, high-performing marketing opportunity for social marketers than it’s ever been, while at the same time remaining fully committed to never sacrificing the user experience that brought everyone to the party.