Facebook Puts Unsolicited Ads Into Users’ News Feeds In Effort To Impress Investors
August 16, 2012

Facebook Puts Unsolicited Ads Into Users’ News Feeds In Effort To Impress Investors

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Social networking giant Facebook is beginning to test new ways for aggressive advertisers to reach users by placing promotional messages in users´ News Feeds regardless if the brand or product has been subscribed to or not.

Previously, ads could only reach people who weren´t fans through ads in the web sidebar or through Sponsored Stories noting their friends had interacted with the page. But under the new program, companies will be allowed to place ads in the users´ main feeds even if those members or their friends haven´t “Liked” the advertiser, according to Annie Ta, a spokeswoman for Facebook.

The non-fan news feed ads will let Pages push their best content across the network. The new program basically makes the Like feature in regards to advertising obsolete. Many businesses who have spent years earning Likes from users will now likely ask: “What was the point?”

Some brands have spent hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars amassing fan bases because that was the only way to push their marketing messages out at scale. Now, a Page with no fans could buy their way into millions of news feeds, forcing their brand on users rather than letting the user come to them.

Facebook is slowly getting its users accustomed to ads by making small changes here and there, allowing users to get used to seeing them before bumping up to the next level of advertising. The feature is currently only in test mode and only a handful of businesses and users will be party to the test.

Facebook made a commitment not to overload the news feed with ads. “We want to be thoughtful about how we introduce ads in news feed, so we have limits in place to ensure that people´s news feeds are not filled with advertising, but we don´t have specific numbers to share,” a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch.

According to TechCrunch, the tests are part of Facebook´s aggressive Web and mobile feed ad unit geared toward impressing investors. It is not clear if and when the new ads will roll out to more users and become available to more advertisers.

It is also unclear how people on the social network will react to posts from Pages that they haven´t subscribed to. Ads mixed in with family messages and photos and stories from friends, could quickly become a thorn. Some people have purposefully avoided Liking Pages to keep their feed as free as possible.

The news feed ad campaign, first reported on by Inside Facebook, was launched in January, dropping in unsolicited ads from users´ fan pages and labeling them “featured.” Since then, Facebook has been developing other types of ad testing -- particularly in the mobile sector, where earning revenue is seen as more important. In June, Facebook began working on a mobile ad product that uses real-time data based on users' locations.