FBX aside, there’s little doubt that Facebook prefers to see your ads in its newsfeed. It’s the premier real estate on Facebook, but don’t take my word for it: the social network itself reports seeing “over eight times the engagement for ads in the news feed versus the right-hand side.” Plus, there’s the little matter of Facebook wanting to monetize its high-growth mobile properties, on which the newsfeed is the sole placement for advertising (revenue).

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when Facebook announced that Page Like ads would begin appearing in the newsfeed (initially only on mobile devices, but shortly followed by desktop) last month. This ad unit, geared exclusively towards fan acquisition, hails from the pre-sponsored story days where standard domain, event, and page like ads on the right-hand side were effectively the only paid media options on the platform.

Compare the right-hand side ad with the newsfeed ad:

page like ad

Page like ad, right-side placement

page like ad in newsfeed

Page Like ad, newsfeed placement, featuring a more prominent Like button

Three tips on the revamped Page Like Ads

1. By default, Page Like ads will be served to both the right-hand side as well as the newsfeed. While it’s possible to select only the mobile newsfeed or the desktop newsfeed placement, advertisers can’t select a (desktop) right-hand-side-only option. If you prefer to send traffic to page tabs rather than the page timeline, take this into consideration because most tabs are unsupported on mobile devices.

If you opt to specify desktop-only, your best bet for evaluating the distribution of ad placement and the differences in engagement between the right-hand side and the desktop newsfeed is the “News Feed” report in the Ads Manager. Use this to understand the share of newsfeed impressions, clicks, and click-through rates for a given ad.

2. Ads (and sponsored stories) in the newsfeed are now prohibited from including images comprised of more than 20% text. This applies to Page Like ads, so choose your graphics carefully in order to avoid the experience of seeing your ad get disapproved. While “product shots” are notably excluded from this requirement, Facebook is going to great lengths to “make advertising blend in with organic content…and feel less obtrusive to users,” even if it even if it throws some curve balls at your creative department!

3. Until this week, an individual ad or story used to only be inserted into a given user’s newsfeed once (regardless of whether it was paid or unpaid). However, Facebook is now increasing the frequency with which a given sponsored story, Page Post ad, or Page Like ad is inserted in the newsfeed. The frequency is subject to: a user’s perceived interest level in the content, the advertiser’s bid, and time elapsed between insertions of identical advertised content.

It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds, both from the perspective of users and advertisers. Keep in mind that you can still circumvent any potential frequency constraints, despite Facebook’s recent policy change, by creating new ads when using the Page Like ad type, though. This will not only increase the cumulative frequency with which your ads surface in your target audience’s newsfeeds, but it should also allow marketers to test different combinations of copy and images in the newsfeed in order to identify and optimize for the highest-performance creatives.

The newsfeed and Mobile’s outlook

Facebook only began permitting mobile advertising one year ago; by the fourth quarter, 23% of its total advertising revenue came from mobile ads – all of which are placed in users’ newsfeeds.

Facebook usage continues to shift from desktop to mobile devices (mobile users now surpass desktop users), so sustaining the growth of its mobile advertising products, which accounted for just 14% of total ad revenue in the third quarter, is critical. As BTIG Research observed, “Facebook clearly gunned the ad load in the news feed during Q4, [benefiting] from a seasonal tailwind, an unknown amount of political advertising, the introduction of sponsored posts…and the launch of app install ads.”

If Facebook can survive this sea change while improving results for marketers, even better – expect demand (and potentially pricing) to increase, as advertisers continue to follow users and gravitate to newsfeed and mobile placement.

While expanding the placement options of Page Like ads to the newsfeed can hardly be considered unearthing a new frontier (mobile app install ads are the most innovative development to date), it’s an incremental adjustment to continue to keep Facebook’s ad products aligned with its transformation to a mobile-first company. And should newsfeed performance trends hold, advertisers stand to benefit.

– Kushal Kadakia

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Kushal Kadakia
Kushal Kadakia is media analyst at Ampush, a technology-driven online marketing agency in San Francisco. Ampush drives billions of social ad impressions per month for large-scale brand marketers and agency partners across a range of verticals including technology, financial services, gaming, retail, travel, and consumer packaged goods. Follow Kushal and his colleagues on the Ampush blog at http://ampush.com/blog/.