The axing of Facebook’s Sponsored Stories on April 9 will be greeted happily by users but brands may have just lost one of their “most powerful” social ad products.
The expiration of Sponsored Stories, which turns users’ interactions with brands into social endorsement ads, will cause a major strategy change for brands, according to one social expert.
“At Thinktank Social, we see this type of ad outperform other ad types across the board with our clientele,” Sam Mutimer, director of social media at Thinktank Social, told B&T.
“Brands will need to be smarter, more creative, and work harder for their ad cut-through for now.”
The move will please Facebook users but will not please brands, according to Mutimer who added: “We expect they’ll take a minor hit initially as brands may pull back on ad spend while they plan and test new ad strategies.”
Sponsored Stories may be disappearing from Facebook’s marketing dialect but the idea behind them, social context, is not.
In the blog announcing Sponsored Stories death Facebook said: “Marketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, social context –stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant – is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.”
The axing of Sponsored Stories comes after Facebook was forced to pay $20m to settle a class-action lawsuit which ended in August.
The lawsuit was brought against the social giant by privacy advocates who argued Sponsored Stories violated privacy rights by publishing ‘likes’ and profile pictures without consent.
Google has not been deterred by the problems Facebook has encountered and has launched its own social endorsement style ads, Shared Endorsements.
The changes to Google’s terms of service, which occurred in November, allow the web giant to use account details in ads.
For example, if a user posts something positive about a brand or restaurant visit it could appear with their name and photo in an ad.
The new advertising feature has automatically opted-in users to Shared Endorsements.
More recently Google came under fire for changes to its Google+ feature which has enabled Google+ users to send emails to all Gmail users, unless they have opted out.