Facebook Advertising – Premium Ads & the new Timeline

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Facebook Timeline is now mandatory for business pages, whether you like it or not! Prior to the switchover Facebook business pages you could produce a professional looking page with lots of options for fan engagement without a large budget.

With the new changes, though, Facebook business pages are definitely not as “small biz friendly.” The new format brought changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank, the look and functionality of business pages, as well as changes to their advertising options. There are now “premium” advertising options for the big guys – things like logout page ads, mobile ads, Facebook offer ads, even news feed ads!! The regular ads we’re used to will pale in comparison.

On top of this Facebook has also changed the amount of characters allowed in an ad to 90 characters so that they can fit more ads on the advertising panel. Meaning that not only will you have less space to get your message across but that you’ll also be competing with more ads. To compete, you’ll need to focus more on the image you post along with your ads – making it stand out from the rest.

So, what are the premium ad options?

1. News Feed Ads – Before this option, the only way an ad could make it to your News Feed was if one of your friends shared or liked the link. Now – businesses can pay for the News Feed placement of Featured or Sponsored Stories Ads regardless of the ad’s actual “Edgerank.” The ad will look like any other post in your feed, except for it will be tagged as “featured.” To the average user, this could be viewed as pretty intrusive, but it is a great opportunity for marketers to get some prime time impressions with their fans’ friends.

2. Logout Ads – I never log out of Facebook, but there are tons of people out there who do, actually around 37 million per day. Facebook is looking to capitalize on this by allowing big brands to purchase advertisements on the sign off page. But only one ad will show up on the sign off page at a time – one huge image for one huge impact. The thought is that these ads will convert more people because they are already ending their Facebook experience and are ready to jump to another site.

3. Mobile Ads – It’s happened. Facebook can’t help itself from serving ads to the 350 million active users who access Facebook via a mobile device. The mobile ads you purchase will appear in the News Feed, but no panel ads (the small screen prohibits side ads).

4. Offers – Premium accounts can now provide discounts and offers to their fans. Offers as easy to create as a status update and are super share-worthy. Combine an offer with a Sponsored Story ad and you’ve got a winning advertising campaign.

And the doozy….

5. Reach Generator - Brands can now pay to guarantee that at least 75% of their fans see a particular post (as opposed to the 16% an average post receives). This is good news for the big brands with deep pockets, but for smaller companies it’s out of the price range. Maybe in the coming months this option will be available at a more reasonable price, but for now it’s an advantage that the major players have over the little guys.

What’s the problem? All of these options sound awesome. The problem is multifaceted. First of all, consumers will be served more ads per day than they’re used to. Second, only certain businesses are allowed these features. The offers ads are great, but small businesses don’t have access to them. Nor do small business have access to News Feed ads.

Until there’s a different EdgeRank for underdogs – allowing their ads or posts to be revealed more often, big businesses are the ones who will be #winning with these new ad changes. One of the reasons so many smaller companies flocked to Facebook in the first place was the ease of use and low overhead it took to compete with their competitors – even the larger brands. Now – that is not so.

From a user’s perspective – yes, we will be receiving more ads then ever from companies. Fortunately, the ads that we’ll see will (or should) engage us more than ever.

What other implications do you see coming from the new ad changes?

Sources:

WOMMA Webinar with Cara Friedman at Likeable Media

Mikal Belicove. How Facebook’s ‘Offers’ and ‘reach Generator’ Can Deliver More for Less. Entreprenuer.com. March 7, 2012. http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223062

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