Facebook Sponsored Stories: Beacon, Again? Not Quite
In the early morning hours of January 25th, Facebook unveiled Sponsored Stories, a new ad unit based on users’ Likes and check-ins. Although the move was reminiscent of of Facebook’s Beacon offering in November of 2007, Sponsored Stories has not raised as many privacy concerns among users.
As Peter Kafka of All Things Digital points out, "There are some very big differences between Facebook’s ill-fated Beacon and Sponsored Stories. Most important, The ads are replicas of the updates your friends are already seeing in their Facebook newsfeeds (sic)."
Put simply, the new ad unit allows companies to place a call-out on the right side of your friends pages when you Like or comment on their page, or check in at their place. The ad looks just like a news feed update with the company logo and small comment and Like buttons.
Put simply, the new ad unit allows companies to place a call-out on the right side of your friends pages when you Like or comment on their page, or check in at their place.
Unlike Beacon, Sponsored Stories only tracks activity you would normally post on Facebook instead of activity on third-party, partner sites. Many think this is why users have not raised any privacy concerns like they did in 2007. Others feel that users have become more comfortable sharing information over the last three and a half years.
Jackie Cohen, of All Facebook, points out that "In beta tests of the new ad format, the sponsored stories increased so-called brand lift, ad recall and viewers’ likeliness of recommending the marketed product to other friends," which may make them very attractive to marketers.
Sponsored Stories could enhance pharma marketing initiatives that are already utilizing Facebook pages, places or the Like button. However, the ad unit is still new. And until we know exactly what information will be displayed as part of the ad, I would urge pharma marketers to use extreme caution when considering Sponsored Stories.
But like Facebook users, I could easily get used to this new type of sharing-based ad once we’ve confirmed it is safe for pharma use.