Facebook’s announcement that the site is testing ads that will go beyond pages’ fan bases set off a flurry of reaction across the Internet. Many criticized the social network, as previously, only content from pages specifically liked by the user or their friends ended up in their news feeds. Some feel that the ads are OK, since Facebook is a free service. A Facebook spokesperson told AllFacebook that this is a test, and users are able to hide these posts, similar to the process of hiding any other news feed content.
Here’s some of the reaction to Facebook’s new ad testing from around the Internet:
Beyond Facebook’s bottom line, the question is how people will react to posts from pages they haven’t subscribed to being mixed in with family photos and thoughts from friends. Some people have purposefully abstained from liking pages to keep their feed aa billboard-free as possible. They could get quite miffed at these new non-fan ads.
Honestly, this seems a little desperate on Facebook’s part. Until today, the Facebook news feed only displayed stories about friends, public figures you subscribed to, or pages you liked and, therefore, opted into receiving marketing messages from.
Citing a positive, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that sponsored stories in news feeds — then Facebook’s only mobile ad product — were bringing in roughly $1 million per day, about one-half from mobile. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called them the “cornerstone” of Facebook’s monetization strategy. Early research also suggested that ads in mobile news feeds had higher click-through rates than the same units on desktops.
Whether users will find the news feed ads lacking social context any more disruptive than their forerunners depends partly on how truly organic they found the socially driven news-feed ads. Does an ad from Walmart feel less like an ad because your friend from high school liked it?
Oh, please. We know what’s going to happen: Users will hate it, and Facebook will roll it out anyway, because that’s what Facebook does. If this sounds desperate, that’s because it is. Common stockholders have very little control over Facebook directly, but they can do one thing to make Zuckerberg listen: Sell.
While Facebook may indeed set limits to how often you see these ads, just one will be too many for many users’ liking. News feeds have become barely manageable with too much clutter — from annoying game posts to pictures of your friends’ babies.
Should Facebook decide to roll out this new ad to all users’ news feeds, it needs to do so carefully. Patience with Facebook is already running out.
Of course, this is just a test, and Facebook runs hundreds of tests every month. But something tells me this one will stick. It’s a clever way for Facebook to expand ad revenue and an improved way for businesses to expand their reach on the network.
But of course, it’s also Facebook getting one step closer to selling straight-up advertising on the site.
Facebook and Twitter are both pushing users to the limit of what’s deemed socially acceptable — for one obvious reason: Each incremental incursion into your privacy represents a potentially lucrative new income stream.
What’s interesting is that they are doing this under the radar. Even large, unwieldy corporates learn from their mistakes.
The crazy thing is, every free service runs ads. It’s how they raise the money to keep the lights on. Watch TV, listen to the radio, even Hulu’s paid service runs ads in the middle of the program. That’s intrusive. That’s keeping me from enjoying my media, but a skippable ad on my news feed — no big deal. It’s the price you pay for keeping Facebook free, people.
On the other hand, we have the outcry from businesses who see this as a slap in the face. Say you’re a brand who has spent considerable time and energy to build up a fan following. You’ve even paid for ads that show up in the fan streams. Now, Facebook comes along and lets your competitor send ads to your followers. No sweat equity, just cash up front and the space is yours.
Readers: Now that you’ve had some time to think about this, do you feel that Facebook should go through with ads for non-fans?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.