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Ads Coming to Facebook News Feed in 2012

December 20, 2011

Facebook on Tuesday confirmed that, starting next year, advertisements will start popping up in users' news feeds.

The ads, known as Sponsored Stories, will be displayed "gradually."

"The goal is to do this thoughtfully and slowly," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. "Facebook hopes to show people no more than one Sponsored Story in their News Feeds per day and the story will be clearly labeled."

A screen shot provided by Facebook (below), for example, showed a sponsored story for Ben & Jerry's. It appears exactly like a friend's status update or post might be displayed—with a note from the brand and a photo of a waffle cone. But there is a "Sponsored" link on the bottom right. Mouse over it and a note will say: "This was already shared with you. A sponsor paid to feature it here."

Facebook's Sponsored Stories were introduced earlier this year, but they only appeared in the sidebar. If you checked into Starbucks, for example, Starbucks could display that check-in to your friends. Late last month, Facebook started rolling out ads in the ticker, the real-time menu located at the top right of your news feed.

Facebook news feed sponsored story

"We wanted to give a way for application developers, page owners, place owners to be able to promote their content that's as core to the user experience as the news feed, and I think with Sponsored Stories we've created that," Facebook said at the time.

In September, Twitter also expanded its ad platform, known as Promoted Tweets, injecting sponsored tweets into a person's timeline even if they don't follow that brand.

Twitter first announced its Promoted Tweets ad platform in April 2010. At the time, it partnered with several specific advertisers, including Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America. If you happened to search for those brands on Twitter, the top search result would be an ad from those sponsors. At launch, Promoted Tweets were only included in search results, but Twitter said it would eventually expand the program. By June, it added those Promoted Tweets to its trending topics bar.

In October, Twitter officially unveiled its Promoted Accounts program, which added advertisers to Twitter's "Who to Follow" suggestions list. It also announced a "promoted products" option that allowed third-party apps to display promoted tweets and trends. More recently, Twitter said Promoted Tweets would start showing up in the stream of tweets from people you follow.




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