Since the launch of Stories, Ads, Brand Pages with timeline, and Premium Ads features back in March 2012, Facebook has become a real treat for marketers, agencies and brands, as they received a powerful tool that gives them an insight into what people think, like and talk about on the social network in any given time.
This was a subject to a lot of criticism by some experts, and a cause of dissatisfaction among users, as they were presented with unwanted ads, and had become involuntary sources of information for large companies which browsed through their activities searching for valuable marketing data.
Now, Facebook is rolling out a new ad format that will feature posts from brands’ pages in users’ news feeds, even if they are NOT fans of the pages concerned! The new posts/ads will look the same as regular ones, with the only difference of being labeled as sponsored, and will be featured on both desktop and mobile devices.
The difference between the current sponsored stories format and the new feature is that the old format had a constraint where the ads could be served only to fans that liked the page and their friends. Now, literally anybody can be a target of advertisers, besides the fact that the new sponsored stories will appear directly in the central news feed, not just in the small News Ticker on the right hand side of the screen.
Luke Brynley-Jones, Our Social Times consultancy founder, considers this as another risky step by Facebook:
“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.”
A lot of people (companies) have invested heavily into Facebook, and now they expect their money back. Under the pressure, Facebook is forced to come up with different ways of fulfilling expectations very fast, and unfortunately, I think it’s becoming more of a money making machine for the people that invested, than a user friendly experience. It’s just the matter of time when they are going to take a step too far concerning users’ privacy, which may present the end of the road for the company.