Posted June 7, 2013 4:55 pm by with 3 comments

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Facebook just announced that they’re going to simplify their ad process by cutting down the number of options from 27 to less than half of that in addition to making the ads more uniform.

I got stuck on the number 27. I don’t do a lot of Facebook advertising so I was surprised to see there were that many options. As a consumer, there are two kinds of Facebook ads, the irrelevant ones in the sidebar and the irrelevant ones in my news feed. What’s worse is that the sidebar ads always look like something from a beginner – tiny, lousy photos, uninspired text, and no formatting whatsoever.

Behold the new Facebook ads!

Screenshot 4


These are pretty. If only there were going to keep those lovely blue borders. . . . alas, I suspect that’s just for show. Across the board, the ads are going to look better, the brand name is more prominent and there will be more uniformity. All good things.

Let’s talk social. Here’s Facebook to tell you about the next step:

Previously, to get the best social context available, advertisers had to purchase sponsored stories in addition to ads. In the future, for example, when you create a Page post photo ad, we will automatically add social context to boost performance and eliminate the extra step of creating sponsored stories. We know social enhances ad resonance; people are influenced by this type of word-of-mouth marketing. Research from Nielsen, comScore, and Datalogix shows that social context can drive awareness and return on ad spend, so we want to make it easier to add it to our ads. These changes will happen in the fall.

So the top social network is going to make sure there’s social context in all ads. Seriously? They’re just coming to this now?

Where I’m confused is the area of “Sponsored Stories” – those ads that make it look like you’re actually recommending a product. Facebook was sued last year for using these tenuous endorsements without giving people a way to stop them.

Many outlets covering this story say that these ads are going away but looking at these new ads, they seem just as connected to the Facebook users, if not more.

AdAge went straight to the source and got this quote:

“Sponsored stories as an idea doesn’t go away. Sponsored stories as a product goes away,” said Brian Boland, Facebook’s product marketing director.

What that tells me is they’ve simply changed the label to keep people from making a fuss. Going forward, social is going to be an even bigger part of Facebook ads. To do that, they have to link ads to profiles and then show those ads to relevant followers. Call it what you want, it’s still going to look like I’m endorsing a brand of laundry detergent when all I wanted to do was get the $1 off coupon to try it.

What do you think? Is Facebook making great strides in the area of social advertising or is this all smoke and mirrors?