Facebook’s New Sponsored Stories: Brilliant Advertising Tactic or Just Plain Foolishness?

This article was originally published on Smedio.

Even as the public outrage over the newly introduced ‘frictionless’ sharing refuses to die down, Facebook is introducing another major change – the world’s leading social network is now listing sponsored stories in their recently introduced News Ticker. While it may be a blessing in disguise for advertisers, Facebook users have every reason to be worried if this be the first step towards having Sponsored Stories show up in the main news feed?

On its part, Facebook says Sponsored Stories are an extension of News Feed, so it’s natural that they appear in Ticker. Unfortunately, the majority of 700 million plus Facebook user community would beg to differ.

There’s no doubt that Facebook currently rules the roost in social media advertising and this move is aimed at expanding its impressive ad portfolio, however it must throw caution to the wind as too many changes too fast are likely to irk most users.


The concept of Sponsored Stories isn’t entirely new. In fact, these can be regarded as regular News Feed stories that are displayed in the right column of Facebook to gain users’ attention. In September, I noticed the test version of the ads started appearing intermittently on my ticker. And now it seems Facebook plans to show such promotional activity in ticker based on keywords of the posts surrounding it.

It is believed that Facebook will offer seven different variations on the ads, more and more sponsored likes are being seen of the ticker whereby the ad says that their friends like a particular page or a brand. The company claims that users with more activity in their tickers will see the advertisements for less time.


Surely, there’s got to be a good reason why Facebook is risking annoying users with sponsored stories in their ticker. That’s because there’s good money to be made with this model – it’s believed that sponsored stories fetch nearly 46% higher click through rate as compared to regular advertisements.


In my opinion, Facebook’s game plan is simple – watch out for the initial user reaction to Sponsored Stories, increase the frequency over a period of time, optimize it to boost revenues and keep any widespread discontent in check. After all, the world’s largest IPO might soon be on offer.


Though Facebook claims users haven’t complained about this experimental feature till date, I believe that it’s a matter of time before the backlash begins. As things stand, Facebook is already being criticized for an overdose of sharing and the alleged overdose of advertising is the last thing it needs at this point of time.

What do you think of Facebook’s newly launched Sponsored Stories feature? Is it a good move to attract more advertisers? Or is it another annoying change that Facebook users will be forced to live with? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment.