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This article was published on March 21, 2012

Facebook launches a tool showing you what sponsored stories look like in your news feed

Facebook launches a tool showing you what sponsored stories look like in your news feed

As Facebook has started to drop sponsored stories into news feeds, it has also recetly launched a new beta tool which advertisers can use to see exactly how their ads are going to look in the wild, Simply Zesty reports.

The Facebook Demo Tool gives advertisers the chance to view both sponsored and premium ads as they would look in the news feed, allowing them to add a profile image, a cover photo and more.

We’re already familiar with premium ads, but the app shows users exactly how they will appear on the Web on the right hand side of the news feed.

Sponsored stories, on the other hand, which some of us have yet to see, are slightly different. These paid ads will appear in the midst of the news feed, both on the mobile and Web interfaces. They will aso appear on the right hand side of the news feed for fans of that page. If any of your friends have ‘liked’ that page, their image will also show up in the sidebar.

As Simply Zesty notes, the ads with images certainly take up a lot of space in your news feed, making them hard to miss. The example we had seen in the past, featuring a Ben & Jerry’s sponsored ad shows just how large, and intrusive, these ‘stories’ can be.

The demo tool will help advertisers could be a way for advertisers to make sure that their choice of ad doesn’t come across as potentially intrusive.

When the feature was introduced at the end of February, Mike Hoefflinger, Director of Global Business Marketing of Facebook said, “We found that fans are twice as valuable as the general population based on purchase behavior. These aren’t just customers, these are the best customers.”

Facebook’s Reach Generator guarantees that 75% of a brand’s fans will see their content, and in the Ben & Jerry example shown above, the results included a doubling in its total Facebook engagement and an increase in sales.

The new advertising feature treads a fine line, and the average Internet users’ complete resistance to advertising in what they feel is an intensely personal space is no doubt going to cause some ripples.

It is also Facebook’s first attempt to introduce advertising to its mobile platform. In December, Facebook’s mobile users reached the 300 million mark, and is said to have almost reached half a billion today.

As far as advertising is concerned, it’s a completely untapped market, but one which also brings with it further risks of wrath. Can the use of sponsored stories displayed based on friends’ recommendations help stave off the criticism? It has yet to be seen.

Facebook’s track record with advertising has been far from stable, but it’s hard to see sponsored stories in the news feed being received by users in a different light.

In fact, Facebook has already shown how far its willing to go with its sponsored stories, as Nick Bergus learned, the hard way. His humourous post linking to an Amazon listing for 55 gallons worth of personal lubricant wound up appearing as a sponsored story on Facebook.

What do you think of Facebook’s sponsored stories? Let us know in the comments.