You’re headed out to your favorite restaurant. As you pull up to a red light, you notice movement to your left. Your coworker is in the adjacent car waving at you. After a brief conversation between car windows, she asks you where you’re headed, so you mention driving to the restaurant. She says she has never eaten there, but is interested in trying it. The light turns green. You part ways.
What Are Sponsored Story Ads?
The story above illustrates the digital concept of Sponsored Stories. A friend interacts with a business’s Facebook page, and the interaction appears on your newsfeed or sidebar. It’s a referral by a trusted source and one of the most powerful marketing tools for a business. It looks something like this:
Sponsored Stories were introduced to Facebook users in early 2012, but for some, it was not welcomingly received. A class-action lawsuit was filed that claimed, “Facebook unlawfully used the names, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent.” Facebook and the involved parties agreed on a settlement, which required Facebook advertising to undergo some changes.
Jodi Seth, a Facebook spokesperson suggested a delay in these changes in her statement “The innovative controls we agreed to in connection with the settlement take time to build.” The timeline for these other provisions has not been stated. However, modifications are already occurring. According to Facebook newsroom, it is beginning to make changes in an effort to streamline a business’s ad process.
The first step in Facebook ad alterations is the removal of Sponsored Stories on April 9, 2014 from Facebook’s repertoire of advertisement options.
So what does the removal of Sponsored Stories mean for the average business user?
Happily, it may result in some positive changes. While the term Sponsored Stories is being removed, the actual change is merely eliminating the need for a business to separately create a Sponsored Story in addition to its purchased ad. For instance, instead of paying separately for
A Page Post Like Sponsored Story (So-and-so likes Hootsuite),
A Page Post Comment Sponsored Story (So-and-so commented on Hootsuite’s post), or
A Page Post Ad (So-and-so likes Hootsuite’s post),
only one ad objective will be given. Facebook will automatically add the social context (So-and-so likes/commented on Hootsuite) to the ad. If you check out your business ad’s Objective flow, you will notice that when Sponsored Stories disappear, in most cases only one (in some cases two) option will remain.
In case you are wondering about Click to Website or Website Conversions, I’m not sure how they will fare since the changes have not yet been made.
One addition that might affect a business’s Facebook page is the removal of Domain Sponsored Stories.
Domain Sponsored Stories are ads that highlight a friend’s interaction with your actual website (i.e. A fan’s status update that includes a link to your site). Because the original post is entirely user-created, it is the ultimate sign of trustworthiness to a fellow Fan. It is understandably of high value to a business. On the other hand, if you do not use Domain Sponsored Stories, then this change will have no effect on your advertisement activity. (Jon Loomer does a good job explaining what Domain Sponsored Stories are if you’re interested.)
Do you think the removal of Sponsored Stories will affect your advertising activity come April 9?