Sponsored Stories Now Available in the Facebook Self-Serve Ad Tool

Facebook’s self-serve performance ad tool now allows Page, Place and application admins to create Sponsored Stories ads. The recently launched ad unit allows admins to pay for additional distribution of Page stories as well as user updates that mention them in Facebook’s ad space. Until now, these ads could only be bought through a Facebook managed brand advertising representative.

Sponsored Stories complement other types of advertising and marketing on Facebook, allowing businesses and brands to approach users in multiple ways at once. Sponsored Stories will likely become a component of many ad campaigns on Facebook.

If admins select a Page, Place or application as an ad’s destination in the ad creator, a Sponsored Stories option is revealed. If a Page is the destination, admins can choose to create a Like Story, which “promotes News Feed stories about the viewer’s friends liking your Page”. This type of ad is most effective when it can tell users that multiple friends have Liked your Page, and is therefore best paired with standard Facebook ads, promotions, or tab applications that simultaneously drive Likes, seeding the Sponsored Story.

The other option for Page admins is to create a Page Post Story, which “promotes News Feed stories about your Facebook Page updates.” This can help Pages drive extra clicks to an outbound link, such as to vote in a poll, sign a petition, visit a ecommerce store or get more people to follow another call to action. If the post includes a photo or video, users can click through to see the photo, or watch the video inline.

Application admins have the option to create an App Story, which “Promotes News Feed stories about the viewer’s friends using your App.” Since only users who have the advertised app installed, App Stories are good for re-engaging existing users, but not acquiring new user. Admins of claimed Places should also be able to create check-in stories to promote Places check-ins. This type of Sponsored Story could be used to call attention to a grand opening or sale.

Sponsored Stories ad prices seem to be the same as their traditional counterparts when targeted to the same audience. Metrics about Sponsored Stories appear to be lumped into the social context field in Page Insights. If the advertising community finds that Sponsored Stories perform well, they may shift spend away from traditional Facebook ads to this more complicated, but more persuasive ad unit.

[Thanks to Brittany Darwell for this and all her other valuable tips]