Facebook launched a slew of new advertising products today, giving marketers more ways to reach consumers and giving Facebook more ways to make money.
The new products could give Facebook a potential in revenue as it prepares for its IPO this year. The company is developing its payments business but advertising is still the vast majority of its revenue.
The new products, announced at an event in New York City, include new brand pages that are based on the Timeline profiles that the Facebook rolled out recently. Also included are mobile ads, a new Groupon-like Offers product, and new large ads on Facebook’s log-out screen. Brands such as American Express, Kia, Wal-Mart, Aegis Media and 1-800-Flowers are using some of these new Facebook products.
The big change for marketers is that Facebook is turning Facebook pages into Timeline pages, which are basically constantly changing multi-media histories. In the new formate brands can also “pin” content at the top of the Timeline for up to seven days. What that means is that brands will no longer just be posting on a tab or a page. Instead they’ll be creating more of a story-telling format. In other words brands have to think of a deeper story for their company and how to illustrate it for consumers with compelling content, beyond just posting updates once in a while. “We’re really moving away from tabs ,which are very static, to a world where it’s all about what’s fresh and what’s new,” says Clara Shih, CEO ofHearsay Social, a social marketing startup that is a launch partner with Facebook today.
But are brands ready to become story-tellers? Some may be and some may not be yet.”They know it’ll take work to understand this new paradigm,” Shih says. “Not everybody loves change. That’s the thing I find so compelling (about Facebook) which is they’re able to stay relevant by constantly pushing the envelope.” Over time, Shih says, marketers will come around as they have with previous Facebook products.
Other new products: a “Reach Generator” which enables brands to pay more to ensure that their posts get on 75% their fans’ News Feeds. More generally there’s also a new Premium ad system that gives marketers the chance to post ads on new places such as the home page, News Feed and the log-out screen.
Facebook also announced mobile ads that can be placed in users’ News Feeds on mobile devices. The inclusion of ads into the main feed may raise some eyebrows especially if the ads are seen as intrusive. However, with more and more users moving to mobile devices, Facebook needs to develop the monetization piece on mobile. This is likely just the start there. Twitter also just announced promoted Tweets on mobile.
Maybe overlooked in all the discussion over the new advertising formats is theOffers product. Facebook originally released an offers product last year, then dropped it. The new Offers enables companies to share discounts from their Facebook Pages. The Offers can be sent out to consumers on the News Feed or as Sponsored Stories. I think this product will be developed much more in the future. That means new competition for the likes of Groupon and Yelp, which is about to price its IPO this week.