Facebook will shortly begin testing a new potential salve for its mobile problem: ads in your news feed that aren't based on social context but can be targeted to users using the slate of criteria available for more traditional ad inventory, such as age, gender, likes and interests.
The test , which will appear on both desktop computers and mobile platforms, represents a change in Facebook's proposition to consumers pitching news-feed ads as hardly like advertising at all. When desktop news-feed ads were introduced in January, for example, Facebook emphasized that they were based on friends' engagements with branded content -- and thus eligible to appear in news feeds organically, just like friends' comments could. But the new ads will let marketers into news feeds without that level of connection.
That's also a departure from Facebook's usual pitch to marketers centering on the value of ads with social context and "word-of -mouth marketing at scale." But the option to target news-feed ads to a broader range of consumers seems likely to at least intrigue advertisers. And a new, effective ad unit for mobile platforms would be more than welcome at Facebook.