ADOTAS – I was intrigued when Facebook launched it Sponsored Stories ad unit, which allows brands to highlight relevant activity from a user’s newsfeed. If Jonny just checked into the Main St. store of a certain coffee chain, said brand could port the post to the righthand ad column to serve to his friends. I suggested this non-invasive ad format (technically the data is already in your news feed) was the beginning of paid social.
One could argue that your friend is endorsing the brand and Facebook is getting paid by the brand for his or her endorsement — however, as I’ve said before, Facebook is a service that you pay for with your data, including posts.
Now social marketing and technology firm TBG Digital has studied results from several active campaigns that covered 2 billion impressions over a 10-day period. Sponsored Stories registered a 46% higher click-through rate than standard Facebook display units.
Well, that sounds decent, but the average click-through rate for Facebook ads is supposedly half of that of web display ads — 0.05% vs. 0.1%. A 46% increase would bring that average to 0.073%, still lower than regular old display ads.
At least Sponsored Stories lowered cost per click by 20% while driving an 18% improvement in cost per fan versus standard Facebook ads. In addition, the performance of Sponsored Stories actually improved over time, according to TBG, which is quite the opposite from display units on the network.
It has to be noted that Facebook advertising all about targeting — I’m still amazed at how a wedding photographer turned $1,700 ad buy into $110,000 in sales — so it’s hard to judge the effectiveness of these display units based on average CTR; poor targeters are bound to drive it down. So give Sponsored Stories some time to catch on — paid social definitely has potential.