Facebook launched “Sponsored Stories” today. This is a new ad format that basically takes user actions and converts it into promoted content.
Jim Squires, Facebook Product Marketing Lead told Mashable, Sponsored Stories is “a way for marketers to sponsor activities that happen throughout the News Feed.” This will allow marketers to create Facebook ads from the following user actions: likes, checkins, Facebook application activity, and Page posts. These ads will be displayed in the right column of the Facebook page, where ads typically appear.
For example, Starbucks could pay to capitalize on a user’s actions. User content isn’t shown directly, but a user’s actions are the nuts and bolts of Sponsored Stories. Using this Starbucks example, someone on “Jessica’s” friends list could see that she checked in to a Starbucks location. Advertisers are hoping that user’s seeing their friends engaged with their brand will build trust and increase brand awareness.
Squires goes on to say, “The advertiser is not controlling the message; it’s about actions,”
The following is an example of how a checkin could be featured as a Sponsored Story:
And here’s what it might look like to one of Jessica’s friends as a Sponsored Story:
Facebook has several launch partners including major brands and non-profits, but anyone can take advantage of this new advertising feature by bidding on Sponsored Story spots.
Sponsored Stories can be compared to Twitter Promoted Tweets. The main difference is that the user defines the advertised content in Sponsored Stories. Promoted Tweets can be blanketed to users at large.
The bottom line is that users can’t opt out of being featured in Sponsored Stories. I suppose the logic here is that your actions are being displayed to your friends only, and they already have access to this information. Facebook is simply putting it in a more prominent location, so they can increase ad revenue.
If you want more information, check out the video Facebook created to explain it in depth.