Facebook has long been experimenting with e-commerce and advertising — long before the Open Graph and Timeline were even a thing. While social networking has brought a whole new audience and ways to reach them to brands and businesses, it’s been an effort based on trial and error.
Today Facebook unveiled not only Timeline pages for brands and businesses but its new advertising model. The crux of it is that marketers need to be able to interact with consumers via Facebook to the same degree that your average users do. Essentially, brands will have the ability to use Facebook to talk to its audience like your family and friends talk to you on the site. Facebook harped on the idea that this is better for everyone: a connection is a connection, and businesses should be able to get friendlier, more communicative, more personal with customers (and potential customers).
And Timeline for brands is part of this. Not only do they look and largely function like the average user’s page, they include the rich, visual storytelling medium. It gives a company an identity beyond being all business. But Facebook revealed much more to the changes in marketing structure today. Here are a few of the updates that will most affect the user experience.
That’s not all Facebook is doing for marketers, however. Facebook also introduced Premium Offers and Ads, which function similarly to Promoted Tweets. Marketers can pay to get their ads or Sponsored Stories some better real estate on Facebook. You’ll notice that also includes mobile ad placement.
The Reach Generator
The social network also has a new tool called the Reach Generator. The Reach Generator allows advertisers to pay Facebook on an ongoing basis to sponser one page post a day – and Facebook guarantees a 75-percent reach of a brand’s page over the course of a month. “We found that fans are twice as valuable as the general population based on purchase behavior,” Facebook director of global business marketing Mike Hoefflinger says. “These aren’t just customers, these are the best customers.”
All of this is going to affect users: marketers are getting new engagement tools and a better ability to reach you. To Facebook and brands, this is good – they want to connect in meaningful ways, not annoying ones. Of course this is subjective, so be forewarned that ads are about to become a bigger part of using Facebook. We all knew it was inevitable.
But the biggest change to user experience might be logout ads. Now, when you logout of Facebook, you will see ads. Facebook calls this the “logout experience,” and it’s essentially a hit and run. You used to be directed to the sign-in page, and now you’ll be greeted by an ad below the login portal instead. 37 million people log-out of Facebook every day, and now Facebook can leverage those exiting eyes.
Creating some harmony
The take-away here is that Facebook wants ads to act like all other content on Facebook. Instead of a big spotlight that says “Hey! This is an ad! This is trying to sell you something!” the site is trying to give marketers and advertisers the tools to make these look and act like activity between you and your contacts.
The hope is that users like this, that we prefer this subtle, less interruptive form of advertising. Then everybody wins. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the platform is curtailing to marketers’ needs to a whole new degree.
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