Some Facebook users are seeing ads in the desktop and mobile feed with the label “suggested post” when there is no connection between the user and the advertiser who has paid for the content to be there.
In August, Facebook began testing a News Feed version of its page post ad format to allow advertisers to reach a broader audience than their own fans and friends of fans. Sponsored Stories, which were the first type of ad introduced to the feed, are only shown to users who already Liked a page or whose friends had Liked a page. Page post ads, along with mobile app install ads, are the first “non-social” ads to be shown in the mobile feed.
The new “suggested post” label is likely being tested to understand how users feel about this type of paid content being mixed with posts from friends and pages they chose to connect to. The label is more noticeable than the small “sponsored” note on other News Feed units. Although it might help users notice the ad and be more likely to engage, it might also lead more users to mark it as spam if they don’t find it relevant.
Relevance is key for News Feed ads to be successful. It is much easier for users to tune out bad ads in the sidebar, but if ads interrupt the core experience of browsing News Feed, it could hurt overall engagement. Although Sponsored Stories about what friends are interested in seem like they would be the most relevant ads because of social context, there are actually times when well-targeted page post ads might be better. For instance, a user might not have any friends that like the Babble Home page, as in the mobile ad above, but if the user enjoys cooking, an ad linking to recipes might be interesting. On the other hand, a Sponsored Story about three friends Liking the Petco page is irrelevant if the user doesn’t have a pet.
Facebook page post ads are similar to Twitter’s Sponsored Tweets, which appear within the mobile and desktop stream even if a user does not follow the advertiser or follow another user who does.