Let me tell you, Facebook marketers – marketplace Facebook ads are going away. Those right-rail wonders that have sustained us for so long are going away for many obvious reasons, and once you start to think about it, it makes perfect sense – call it survival of the fittest.

Let’s look at the signals.

First of all, they should be gone by now if you look at historical signs from Facebook’s roadmap and images from the newest stuff coming out of Facebook. They aren’t engaging and they have a low CTR. They sit over there all lonely in the right rail and very few people click on them. When I say very few, I should be clear: they still get clicks, but it is becoming tougher to gather clicks there when all this great engagement is happening in the Newsfeed.  Overall, a good CTR on those babies is .045 – I mean, not hot numbers, let’s be honest.  We can do better for our clients.

facebook graph search

Second, Facebook’s newest favorite thing to do is constantly talk about how the Newsfeed is the “most engaging place on the web.” This is actually pretty true in my opinion, and the studies that show that people spend tons of their time on Facebook don’t hurt the argument. This furthers the point that Facebook is going to eliminate those ads – users and engineers love the Newsfeed. The right rail clutters things up in their user interface, and honestly, if you look at the screenshots for Graph Search from a TechCrunch post, it’s super cleaned-up.

Third, yeah, just look at Graph Search (image above) – ads are already being show in there as examples! This all but proves that marketplace ads are going away.

Fourth, how about those recent changes to FBX ads allowing things outside of the right-rail ads? Last week, as many of us know, Facebook came out two weeks ago and said they’d be allowing FBX to hit the Newsfeed next. ( I wonder, as a side note, how much of the right rail is already dedicated to FBX from an inventory perspective.)

What does this mean for you, Facebook marketer?

It’s all good; if I’m reading the signs right, Facebook is moving towards a better user experience for all of us. It means cleaner, faster, and better looking social networking for all users, which leads to better ads that have great contextual targeting and gather worthwhile clicks for products and services people are actually interested in.

– Andrew Foxwell

1 Comment

  1. Chris Zaharias April 18th, 2013

    Hey Andrew, two comments:

    To the extent users continue to visit Facebook from their desktops, there will always be a place for the right-hand side ads. As a counter to your argument, I’d point out that the right side ads and newsfeed ads are no more mutually exclusive than AdWords top & right side ads.
    Moreover, FBX ads on the right side, when done dynamically & using all the data advertisers have at their disposal, can & do sustain *multiples* of the CTR you cite.

    Second, having been involved first-hand in Yahoo’s transition to offering dynamic ads front & center on its home page (their equivalent of FB’s newsfeed), it’s important to note that it’ll be much, much more challenging for FBX partners to
    a) scale to handle newsfeed volume;
    b) deliver larger, richer dynamic ads in the newsfeed (so far we’ve only seen a handful of FBX partners able to do dynamic ads on the right-hand side, and newsfeed ain’t gonna be easier)
    c) deal with the intersection of Page Post Ads and FBX. Some have engineering departments dexterous enough to handle this, but most don’t, and that’ll show in the coming months.

    Overall, though, I agree with you that FBX Newsfeed ads will become FB’s dominant ad format, as is the case with Google Adwords’ top of SERP ads. CTRs and conversion rates should be great for advertisers, and the larger format will allow a wider variety of advertisers to succeed.

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Andrew Foxwell
Andrew Foxwell grew up on a farm in western Wisconsin, where his Macintosh Quadra 610 with its lightning fast 28.8K dial-up connection first sparked his interest in digital marketing. After graduating from St. Olaf College, Andrew went to work as a digital director for a U.S. Congressional campaign, which led him to Washington, DC to work as a press secretary/new media director for a U.S. Congressman. Recognizing an opportunity for improved digital communications between members of Congress and their constituents, Andrew founded and managed the social media marketing agency within iConstituent, the leading online communications firm working with Congress. Andrew worked with members and staffs from both sides of the aisle to deepen much needed Congressional dialogue, improve constituent services, and create a more effective 21st century democracy. Andrew then took his diverse skillset to Silicon Valley where he directed the social media division of 3Q Digital, a full-service online marketing firm. There he tripled the agency’s social media client base, managed a team of account managers and production professionals, and oversaw an average monthly revenue growth of more than 20% while working with companies like Square, Fitbit, Eventbrite, 23andMe, Citrus Lane and more. Andrew is the CEO and Co-Founder of Foxwell Digital, a digital creative agency that works with clients as diverse as small-town cafes to multi-million dollar start-ups. Find him @andrewfoxwell and foxwelldigital.com.