OPINION: Facebooks’ new news feed a dream come true

Nick Gill
By Nick Gill | 8 March 2013

We all “like’ Facebook, in fact ComScore, the social media behemoth, ranked Facebook as the top destination on the internet in December 2012, edging out Google. So advertising pay attention as Facebook has announced changes to its news feed that will make ads more targeted and therefore, more effective.
 
Facebook in the last year or so has avoided the stigma that the social site isn’t ideal for performance marketing. Advertising on Facebook leans towards branding and it isn’t quite the performance marketing nirvana like search is on Google or Yahoo, Marin’s data suggests the Facebook's potential. In fact, in Q4 of last year, we saw US Facebook advertising take on search-like performance characteristics.

Last week Zuckerberg and company revealed a new news feed. Pictures and videos will now not only be displayed more prominently, but rather than a single news feed, users will be able to filter their news feed by friends, music, photos, games and other topics. It’s all in an effort to provide users “more choice and more control.” As a result, targeting and ad visibility on Facebook has taken a step closer to the performance marketing utopia. There are three critical changes that advertisers should be aware of:

1) Bigger, more visual oriented ads in the news feed. Gone will be the bit of text and squished image underneath. Instead, it will be big and prominent. More real-estate equals better performance.
2) More targeting according to different news feeds. Imagine instead of targeting an ad for a new album in the general news feed, which would compete with every other ad, you’ll now be able to serve your ad for a new album to your target audience on a feed dedicated to music. Relevancy just went up and people prefer relevant ads.
3) More ads! Facebook users will now not only see ads in their news feed of choice, but upon navigating to a different feed, they'll be shown additional ads. These ad impressions would be incremental for advertisers. As long as it’s not too disruptive, more ad impressions tend to be a good thing.
 
These changes mean Facebook users should get more relevant newsfeed results and certainly the redesigned experience on mobile devices will be better. Tablets in particular are fast becoming an e-commerce powerhouse and Facebook wants to make sure it’s in on that action. If you use search as a barometer, the rise of tablets is quite apparent. Marin’s research shows the click-through rates for search ads on tablets were 37% higher than ads placed on desktop searches and that by the end of 2013, tablets’ will account for 20% of Google’s paid-search ads clicks. Facebook wants to make sure it is optimising for tablets and this is a step in that direction.

Nick Gill
Managing Director
Marin Software

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