My buddy over at Nanigans broke some news to me this morning -- Facebook has announced it's getting rid of Sponsored Stories. To be honest, it's hard for me to remember how Sponsored Stories differ from the 26 other ad products Facebook has.
That's right, Facebook has 27 different ad products -- and they're coming to realize that's too much. So Sponsored Stories, along with about half of Facebook's other ad products, will be getting the kibash over the next 6 months in an effort to pare down their product offerings to advertisers.
What's Going Away
If you're an avid user of Facebook's ad products, here's a sampling of some (not all) of what will be bidding you adieu starting in July.
1) Sponsored Stories (Duh)
I remembered what they are. They're these things:
They're posts generated in someone's News Feed because a friend of theirs interacted with something you're promoting. So that story above would appear in your News Feed if your friend Jane Doe Liked HubSpot's Facebook page.
2) Questions for Pages
Facebook found this unnecessary because marketers can simply ask a question in a post, and get answers through the comments.
Marketers found this less useful than simply using a Page post link ad.
Since Facebook said it's removing about half of its ad products, I'd expect to see many other products (that you might not have even known about to begin with) disappear.
What's Being Added or Adjusted
Facebook is also modifying its current product offerings, in addition to paring them down. Here's what you might see changing from what remains of their ad products.
1) Social Context
You might be used to purchasing both ads and Sponsored Stories together to get the social proof boost you were looking for. Facebook will be automatically adding social context to ads now to help streamline ad creation and improve performance. This will happen in the fall.
2) A More Consistent Look and Feel for Ads
Starting in late June, ad units will have a more consistent visual display to help reduce the number of ad formats marketers have to select from. It should help make it easier to run multiple ad formats and test which creative performs best. This should also help optimize campaigns for desktop and mobile. Facebook hopes this creates a better experience for the end user as well, which I assume can only help conversions.
Good News for Facebook Advertisers and Users
These are all good moves if you ask me. Facebook needs to focus on getting a few core ad products working really, really well for advertisers -- and making those ad formats work for users, too, in my opinion. "As the services we provide to marketers have grown, so have our new products; while each product may be good on its own, we realized that many of them accomplish the same goals," Facebook reported in its blog post. "When we work with a marketer, we always start with their business goals ... our vision is that over time, an advertiser can come to Facebook and tell us what they are trying to achieve, and our ads tools will automatically suggest the right combination of products to help them achieve it."
What this sounds like to me is a symptom of a couple things:
- A reality check. Most marketers don't know how to efficiently manage paid campaigns, social or otherwise, and end up wasting money.
- And that's if they even get there in the first place. Any budget-conscious marketer or advertiser new to paid Facebook ads would realistically log into their ad platform and be too overwhelmed to even get started.
- Productive ad platforms need to concern themselves with the end user. Making Facebook ad products better for marketers and advertisers will benefit Facebook users who have been mighty loud about their distaste for the ads. Having a complicated ad product -- much of that complication stemming from too many options -- means marketers and advertisers are likely choosing the wrong ad products to serve the wrong purposes. The result? Users getting annoyed at poorly constructed, poorly targeted ads that create a poor Facebook user experience.
Facebook said it made these changes based on feedback from marketers about its ad products, stating simplification was one of the loudest points of feedback. These changes should help marketers be more specific about what they want to do with their Facebook ads -- get more in-store sales, generate more conversions, get more app installs -- and they actually, you know, do that.
Will the simplification of Facebook's ad products entice you to start using Facebook ads more frequently?