Facebook now displays up to 10 ads on a single page

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By Brittany Darwell

Facebook is testing a way to show users up to 10 display ads on a single page — up from the former maximum of seven per page.

We’ve seen 10 ads appear on permalink pages for posts that have a large number of comments. Click-through rates might be lower for ads that have to compete with nine others at a time, though users are somewhat likely to see these ads as they scroll down to see more comments. In the past we’ve seen Facebook testing up to seven ads at a time, all below the fold on pages where users are less likely to scroll.

Interestingly, 10 ads are more likely to appear next to a page post if a user navigates to the page after clicking an ad as opposed to getting there from News Feed, Timeline or a direct link.

Facebook’s Help Center has not been updated to reflect the additional ad units some users are seeing. It still says up to six ads may show at one time on any given page, though we first saw the social network displaying seven ads at a time in January.

The social network earns the majority of its revenue from advertising so optimizing the frequency and positioning of ads is important. Facebook seems to have enough inventory to increase the number of ads it shows on each page, but it must balance that with maintaining quality user experience and a level of performance that will keep advertisers coming back to the platform.

Facebook brought in $872 million in advertising revenue in the first three months of 2012. That figure is a 37 percent increase compared to the same period in 2011, which Facebook attributes to an increase in the number of ads delivered. The social network says the increase in ads was driven primarily by user growth, not mentioning changes to how many ads it shows at a time. Overall, Facebook says the average price per ad for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011 stayed the same because even though the average price per ad in the United States and Canada went up, that was offset by an increased percentage of its worldwide ads being delivered in Asia and other countries where the average price per ad is lower. The average price per ad was also affected by a decline in the average price per ad in Europe in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. Facebook suggested that this could be due to poor economic conditions in the region.

The company will report its Q2 earnings on July 26.

Thanks to Dan Carter for the tip and the screenshot.