It's happening. Facebook Exchange is bringing display ads into the feed. Facebook's most heavily used real estate will soon be opening its doors to the cost per impression community. Say goodbye to the ambiguity of Promoted Posts, and the familiarity of pay-per-click. This is a serious move that, for better or worse, is going to change the way that marketing works on Facebook. What does it mean? Let's dive in.
Impressions, Not Clicks
Now we see the real reason that Facebook was pushing the idea that impressions create more sales than clicks do. (That, in fact, 99 percent of sales result from Facebook impressions, not Facebook clicks. Click here to learn how to attribute sales to impressions.)
Currently in beta, Facebook Exchange ads are being opened up to the news feeds for select brands. Once it goes public, this change is going to seriously shift the spending balance in Facebook marketing. The sidebar ads will lose value as brands topple over each other for a position in the most coveted space on the internet: the Facebook News Feed.
Will the shift to the feed make a dramatic difference? The evidence is preliminary, but it's hard to imagine how it wouldn't. Every Facebook user spends the vast majority of their time looking at the feed, and the ads will be displayed in the exact same format as Facebook posts:
I have absolutely no doubt that this will create a boost in the click-through rate and, as a result, the cost and value of the ads.
I do question, however, whether it's a positive move for Facebook. Google Panda was released, in part, to remove ads disguised as content from the search landscape. They did so to satisfy their end users. Can Facebook alienate its users badly enough to hurt their bottom line? Certainly not in the short term. Maybe not in the long term. Only time will tell.
Is it Avoidable?
If you're spending any serious money on Facebook ads...not really.
Yes, of course the Facebook Marketplace will still be available, but these ads are going to lose a lot of value, or at least start looking a hell of a lot less valuable in comparison. Why? Let's start with the figures for Facebook Exchange before they introduced the News Feed feature.
According to Business Insider, the changes in click-through rate are virtually nonexistent in comparison with pay-per-click ads. It's completely unnecessary to win the top spot in order to see great results. Less than 10 percent of cookie pools overlap, so you won't be running up against your competitors.
Facebook exchange doesn't use Facebook's native data; it uses the cookie browsing data of third parties. This actually opens up the amount of information available regarding user interests, since people browse far more than they share on Facebook. The targeting of the ads will be more relevant as a result.
For search marketers who haven't heard the news, Chango is a Facebook Exchange partner. That means you can target Facebook users by their search habits. That's right, search data used to target Facebook users right in the News Feed.
All of this will certainly raise privacy concerns, arguably for good reasons, but this is Facebook we're talking about.
Image credit: Mixy Lorenzo