February 29, 2012, 3:52 PM

Facebook ads go mobile

Facebook will begin presenting Sponsored Stories ads in its mobile app.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Facebook Inc. is adding more ways for marketers to reach consumers.

The social network today announced that it is adding its Sponsored Stories ad format to Facebook’s mobile application and also adding those types of ads to the Facebook log-out screen. Sponsored Stories enable advertisers to highlight posts or actions, such as when a consumer’s Facebook friend Likes a product, checks into a store, plays a game or uses a Facebook application. The move marks the first time mobile users will see ads on the social network.

Today, consumers on Facebook see only about 16% of the content that their connections post on the social network, said Mike Hoefflinger, the social network’s director of brand product marketing, at the Facebook Marketing Conference in New York. Using the new ad formats can boost that percentage to 50% of a brand’s fan base per post and roughly 75% of fans in the span of a month, he said.

The broader reach will be available to marketers who buy a Facebook Premium package via Facebook’s sales team, which uses a new service called Reach Generator, an algorithmic tool that determines the placement of the ads. It provides a way to expand the distribution of marketer posts by placing ads on the right-hand side of the Facebook news feed, whether on a desktop or mobile device. An advertiser pays a fixed fee for the service; the fee is based on a brand’s number of fans. Facebook declined to disclose the exact price structure.

Central to the new ad push is Facebook’s new page format for brands, which are the “richest, most interesting marketing canvas we’ve ever built," said Hoefflinger. The new pages have timelines that highlight a brand’s history and a Friend Activity section that shows what consumers are saying about a brand or retailer. “This is your opportunity to express your [brand’s] identity on Facebook and most certainly is the launch pad for the stories you will tell,” he said. That’s because the new ad formats rely on content generated by brands and their fans.

Among the new types of content marketers can leverage is Facebook’s free Offers program, which enables merchants to offer discounts via their Facebook pages.  

Consumers will initially see about one Sponsored Story a day, Facebook says. “We want to make sure that over time the marketing messages are as good as the content that you see from your friends and family,” said Caroline Everson, vice president, global marketing solutions.

Facebook also announced that throughout the next few weeks it will revamp its Insights analytics tools so that page operators can get real-time data on impressions, reach, negative feedback, people talking about this and other user demographics. Insights previously had at least a two-day lag.

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