Facebook Morphs Sponsored Stories, Kills Online Part of ‘Offers’

Social giant cutting ad unit roster dramatically

Facebook is reshuffling the deck when it comes to its 27 different ad units, and six months from now, fewer than half the cards will be in play.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company revealed today it plans to dramatically slash and reshape its bevy of paid promotional products. Among the more noteworthy moves: Facebook Offers, at least in the e-commerce sense, are being phased out while Sponsored Stories will soon no longer exist as stand alone units—though the social-context ads will be integrated into several different ad units.

So in essence, Facebook is consolidating its ad roster to theoretically give brands fewer-but-better options. With Facebook Offers, retailers can still utilize the promos but only for in-store applications. Evidently, the social giant decided that e-commerce offers were driving traffic away from its property at an uneasy clip. Facebook is also removing its two-year-old Questions product from business pages.

The developments are meant to minimize ad unit redundancies while fostering more consistency to the benefit of Web and mobile campaigns, per the social site.

More specifically, Facebook product manager Fidji Simo, in the previously mentioned blog, described how Sponsored Stories will be implemented into future ads: "When you create a Page post photo ad, we will automatically add social context and eliminate that extra step of creating Sponsored Stories. We believe social enhances ad resonance; people are influenced by this type of word-of-mouth marketing. These changes will happen in the fall."

Expect some of the other changes to begin appearing late this month, which coincides with the end of Facebook's Q2. Per eMarketer, CEO Mark Zuckerberg's firm should grow ad revenues to $5.6 billion this year with about $1.5 billion coming via mobile.

Meanwhile, Laura O'Shaughnessy CEO at SocialCode, one of Facebook's preferred marketing developers, applauded the moves.

"Campaign data shows that our own clients have already gravitated towards ad units that achieve larger business goals, including conversions or actions that result in quantifiable ROI," she explained via email. "These goals are attainable through Facebook campaigns; brands are looking for a streamlined and efficient approach to reach them. Facebook is a step ahead in recognizing this need and in placing a heavier focus on only those advertising solutions that deliver preferred results."