Last week, Facebook took the next step in social advertising when they introduced their Sponsored Stories as an integral part of every user’s homepage. Every time one of your friend’s “likes” a page, posts on a fan page, checks-in or shares an app, companies can “buy” this action and promote it prominently on your wall.
Even though the ads are reflecting the user’s “like” behavior and are less annoying then random ads, I’m not sure, if it’s the right move. To open a social platform for paid advertising is a risky step especially with Google+ waiting to take over frustrated Facebook advocates. But on the other hand, do we really care, if some more ads pop up in our already quite cluttered Facebook interface with the new ticker, chat window, people you may know and other information blocks? As long as the ads remain on the right hand panel and will not be integrated into the news stream, Facebook might have found another great opportunity to please its investors waiting for the company’s IPO.
With a 46% click-thru, a 20% lower cost-per-click and a 18% lower cost per fan rate, sponsored stories are definitely much more interesting for campaign marketing than regular ads and will cause Google’s AdWord team some headaches in the future. And with Twitter introducing sponsored tweets already this summer without the expected user riot, social advertising will be another piece to integrate into an advertising mix for marketers.