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This article was published on October 3, 2011

Facebook’s New Marketing Tools for Ads and Insights

Facebook’s New Marketing Tools for Ads and Insights

With the recent changes announced at Facebook, it wasn’t going to be long until it started to introduce changes for brands, with new targeting options. And now it’s started to do just that, as it’s announced a new ad format that is focused on driving more engagement for brands, attracting ever more ad dollars to the site.

The announcement was made today  in conjunction with New York’s annual Advertising Week. The ad format is called a ‘Premium’ ad and it functions similarly to sponsored stories, which are generated when someone takes an action on your Page. The ‘story’ itself is what’s shown in the ad, as opposed to any ad text or images that you decide.

With a Premium ad, if a brand shares a particular piece of content on their Page, such as a video, an ad containing that content will be served to fans’ friends, expanding to show the content and which of the friends have Liked it:

In line with the changes to the new Facebook profiles, this is all about driving more content to people’s profiles, with increasingly new ways to discover that content. The only issue is that it doesn’t really look like an ad at all. Which is great for marketers of course, but perhaps not so great for users, who will find it increasingly difficult to distinguish between paid and organic content.

Unfortunately this ad unit isn’t currently available on the self-serve ad platform on Facebook, so it won’t be accessible to many brands who have a smaller budget. For those that can afford to run these ads, it puts the onus on the Page owner to share increasingly relevant multimedia content, as opposed to flat text updates. At the moment brands are getting swallowed up by the sheer volume of content that’s now generated in the newsfeed, so they will need to work harder to attract people to the Page, turning it almost into an entertainment hub that simply a place to converse with a brand.

Up next – new Page insights

Given Google’s announcement of new real-time analytics last week, it’s perhaps not surprising that Facebook is introducing changes to its own Insights product. It’s just launched a feature called ‘people talking about’ that essentially allows you to see the total conversation about your brand, outside of the immediate fans you’re reaching. It combines all the stories generated about your brand across Facebook, including Likes, comments, checkins, tags in posts and RSVPs. It will also take into account impressions through ads. Interestingly, it’s not given as a percentage of your fans, but is presented to brands as a raw number. This screenshot was sent by Facebook to show the new insights in action:

The end of the Like obsession?

Interestingly, or perhaps worryingly for some brands, this number is not going to be private. It will be presented to anyone visiting your Page, directly underneath the Like count. This is likely to end an obsession with the Like number on Pages – as brands race against each other to get an arbitrary number of ‘fans’. It will instead start a new, more meaningful race : how engaged are people with your brand across Facebook? Now brands will be judged not just by how many Likes they have, but through their talkability. Are they generating content in any way that is spreading across Facebook? That is shareable, and interesting. It’s a new challenge for brands that have previously focused on Likes as the sole aim, but it’s certainly a welcome one.

Insights API

Another new announcement by Facebook for brands, is that it’s opening up the Insights API for developers so that they can experiment with the information provided by Facebook in Insights and develop new products that present alternative solutions to those provided by Facebook. This will likely largely be used across larger brands, although it could see some new consumer-facing products developed, that will better serve all brand Pages.

This is just the start of what we’re likely to see from Facebook over the next couple of weeks, as everyone continues to wait for the expected upcoming change to brand Pages. But for now, we’ll make do with this.

Featured image: Shutterstock/Viachaslau Kraskouski