2012 is a year about Facebook, the world’s largest and the most popular social network in the world. One of the primary reasons for this is the IPO. This also meant that Facebook would have to think of unique ways of making money from its social network. Facebook is not only concentrating on new ways to introduce Facebook ads but it is also trying to be non-intrusive. After introducing sponsored ads on the timeline, Facebook introduced separate ad slots for mobile. Mobile has been a pain point for Facebook in terms of introducing ads and it has already accepted that it is going to be a challenge. However, that hasn’t stopped Facebook from experimenting with newer ways of creating ads and driving clicks for the brands on the web. Earlier, Facebook had announced that it is testing ads on the log out screen, yesterday it was announced that it is introducing Facebook Exchange for brands to target their fans better and according to a latest report by Mashable, Facebook is also testing Shareable Ad Units. These developments clearly indicate how intensely Facebook is brainstorming to derive better ways of advertisement so that marketers are bullish about it.

The 3 new advertising strategies announced by Facebook

1. Facebook Exchange: Yesterday, TechCrunch posted on it’s blog that Facebook is testing and is soon going to launch Facebook Exchange. Facebook Exchange is a real time bidding ad system where visitors to a third-party website are marked with a cookie and can then be shown real time bid ads related to their web browsing by Facebook. In other words, Facebook will show you targeted ads about a brand that you had recently visited on an external website. For example, if you have recently visited an ecommerce store that has tied up with Facebook for this program and you leave the store without buying the product that you had intended to, the next time when you visit your Facebook you would see an ad related to the store you had visited and maybe with a discount on the product that you had intended to buy.

Currently, Facebook is testing this real time advertising with eight advertising demand side platforms and plans to make it available in the coming weeks for the Facebook sidebar ads that would be charged at cost per thousand impressions. Some of the platforms that Facebook is testing on are TellApart, Turn, AdRoll, etc. With Facebook Exchange, Facebook will now provide you with real time targeted ads along with the ads of the brands your friends have liked. Besides this, Facebook Exchange which can power time-sensitive advertising can direct users to a live sporting event or a currently airing TV show as reported by Bloomberg. Definitely, Facebook can grab a bigger pie of the online advertising revenue by tracking consumer behavior online.

2. Facebook Shareable Ad Units: According to Mashable, Facebook is also testing a new feature that will allow users to share offsite ads on Facebook. In other words, this will allow marketers to bring in their advertisements that are not present on Facebook via the Facebook Open Graph. Mashable discovered that BuzzFeed.com was having a Facebook Share button on one of its “Featured Partner” post as shown below:

BuzzFeed-facebook-ad-unit

On click of the Facebook Share button, a dialog box appears with content that you could post on your wall. The shared post looks like any other shared piece of Facebook content but since it comes from an app it lacks the reshare button. So the post will have a like and a comment option. If someone wants to share then he or she will have to click on the link that will take him or her to the main site and share it again. Though it helps to drive Facebook traffic to the advertisement but we will have to watch and see how many of us take the pains to do it without an incentive.

3. Facebook ads on logout screen: Facebook has confirmed that 37 million people logout of Facebook daily and if you put an ad on it on a CPM basis with $4 CPM then Facebook could make an additional $54 million, says Search Engine Watch. Facebook, which is also testing this new way, is displaying ads on the logout page. Recently, Subway tried it out with these ads on June 1 that featured athletes such as Olympian Michael Phleps who was throwing around avocados and urging Facebook users to add it to their sandwiches.

SubwayMichaelPhelpsFacebookLogoutAd

Will these new advertising strategies help marketers?

Facebook has been criticized by brands for not being allowed to target their fans well. The side panel ads have not got much appreciation from brands so it went on to introduce Sponsored Stories after Beacon had failed.  So if we observe the new set of moves, it will definitely bolster Facebook’s advertising revenue and provide respite to its investors. Facebook Exchange or the retargeting of a user will only be successful if you have a bigger base and no one can challenge Facebook on that. Besides, Facebook is already the leader in US for display ads with 14% share in 2011. Though it has a major issue – fans can’t opt out from being targeted!

Besides that, Facebook Shareable ad unit is a good way to bring offsite ads on Facebook and it will help business. However, Facebook ads on logout screen is going to be a challenge and it has also been criticized of being insanely expensive.

The recent set of developments that Facebook has done in it’s ads section is not that unique and it seems to be following the footsteps of Google. Last year Google had introduced retargeting and had also placed the plus one symbol on external ad sites. But then Facebook is placed well to try all these with its massive user base and it is trying to build a sweet network amongst the users and marketers without disturbing the social platform.

As a marketer, are you excited with these announcements?

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Blogger at Lighthouse Insights.

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