As a user, you’re not likely to notice any huge differences, except maybe for the new Timeline Brand Pages, a related announcement. But there are some subtle changes that Facebook believes enable marketers to evolve their relationship with consumers beyond advertising and into “stories.” The following is a rundown of everything Facebook announced, in Q&A format.
What new ad products did Facebook announce?
Officially, there were five:
> Ads that appear in News Feed
> Ads that run on the right-hand side of your homepage
> Ads within the News Feed on your mobile device
> Ads that appear when you log out
Wait a minute. I’ve been seeing those right-hand ads forever. What’s new about them?
Most of the ads you’ve been seeing in the right-hand section of the homepage are what Facebook calls “Marketplace” ads, which are usually direct-response. The Premium ads in that space will originate from a brand Page and won’t be your typical ad. Often they’ll consist of a status update or a new video upload rather than a standard banner.
So I won’t see the ad unless I “like” the brand or my friend does?
Not necessarily. You’re more likely to see one of the ads if that’s the case, but you might see one even if you or your friends aren’t fans of any brand Pages.
Is that also true of the News Feed ads?
No, you’d only see one of those if you or your friend interacted with a brand Page. But if you didn’t follow any brands, but a Facebook friend did, you might see it in your News Feed if your friend “liked” it.
So advertisers are paying for those News Feed ads?
Not always. Sometimes they will run in the News Feed organically, just like any other status update. At other times, they will be paid for, but you’ll still only see the ad if you or your friend interacted with the brand.
Will I still see those Marketplace ads?
How are advertisers paying for the Premium ads?
Not by the click-through. While that’s still the model for Marketplace ads, Premium ads are based on impressions and reach, sort of like TV ads. In fact, Facebook partnered with Nielsen last year to bring “gross rating points” to Facebook that de-emphasize click-throughs.
Click-through rates for Facebook ads are pretty low. Facebook has also argued that CTRs are a poor and even irrelevant measure of an ad’s performance. You can’t click through a TV ad, for instance, but it still might persuade you to buy something.
Without CTRs, how do advertisers know their ads worked?
Facebook is using mixed-media modeling (a.k.a. “marketing mix modeling”) with some clients, like Procter & Gamble, to demonstrate an ad campaign’s efficacy. The company is working with advertisers on other ways to show a Facebook campaign moved the needle on sales or awareness — whatever the goal might be.
What is Reach Generator?
Reach Generator is a new tool designed to let brands reach all their fans. The average post by a brand (or a person) only reaches 16% of such fans for various reasons, like the number of times you log on and the number of people and brands in your network. Reach Generator lets advertisers reach the other 86% by rerunning status updates as ads aimed at those fans.
Why is Facebook putting so much emphasis on brand Pages?
The company believes brands should be indistinguishable from your Facebook friends. That is, if they post something interesting, it should get pickup in your feed, but if they post something boring, it should not. By offering greater engagement and reach for brands with well-run Facebook brand Pages, Facebook hopes to make it the cornerstone of any marketer’s outreach and ensure that brands offer engaging content. In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats.
What could derail this from happening?
Lots of things. Users might get sick of seeing so much content from brands and decide to withdraw their Like. Google+ or Twitter might prove to be a better destination for brands. That status update-based ads might prove ineffective in the long run. Advertisers might decide that click-throughs actually were a good measure of ad performance. Ultimately, consumers will have the final say.