Sponsored stories are Facebook's most buzzed-about ad product
and carry the promise of high rates because they have the built-in
endorsement of a friend. They were introduced in January 2011 and
currently appear on the right-hand column of Facebook pages,
surfacing actions taken by Facebook friends around a brand's
content, including likes, posts, check-ins and app shares, all of
which would be eligible to appear in a news feed anyway, according
to Facebook spokeswoman Annie Ta.
Sponsored stories in the news feed will be the same size as
other items appearing in the stream and will be identifiable by a
link that reads "Sponsored" below the post. Users who mouse over
the link will see the following text: "This was already shared with
you. A sponsor paid to feature it here."
Ms. Ta said that a small group of advertisers was selected to
participate in the rollout and that users will see, at most, one
sponsored story daily in their news feed during the launch.
Mobile users won't see any sponsored stories during the rollout,
but Bloomberg reported that Facebook is planning its first foray
into mobile advertising
by late March. Sponsored stories in news feeds were cited as a
possible route for Facebook to generate revenue from its 350
million active mobile users.
Sponsored stories in the Facebook news feed have been
anticipated for some time, and it's an obvious step for the company
in terms of ultimately delivering advertising to its enormous
Dave Williams, CEO of social-engagement advertising firm Blinq
Media, doesn't think Facebook will stop there, however. He expects
it to ultimately deliver sponsored story-like ads on third-party
sites and even on TV shows streamed online.
"We really see Facebook becoming the operating system of the
internet for ad delivery in the future," Mr. Williams said.