Facebook tests 7 ads on single page

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By Brittany Darwell Comment

Facebook now shows some users up to seven ads on one page — an increase from the former maximum six.

Adding more ads to the same page could reduce clickthrough rates because it increases competition and pushes ads down to parts of the page that users might not see, but it could increase revenue for the social network. Advertisers might be concerned that as Facebook increases the amount of information it includes on fan pages, fewer ads can be seen without scrolling. When some fan pages are viewed in smaller browser windows, none of Facebook’s display ads are visible at all.

Timeline pages typically have fewer ads. We’ve seen one to two ads at a time on the new profile, which might be why the company is testing more ads on other pages. [Update 1/27/12 1:26 p.m.: Some users tell us they have seen up to four ads on Timeline.] Facebook is also testing the orientation of ads on Timeline. Ads have alternated between horizontal and vertical formats in the past week. The size of a user’s browser can affect the way ads are shown.

The social network earns the majority of its revenue from advertising so optimizing the frequency and positioning of ads is important. Facebook clearly has 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 began displaying six ads at once in November. At that time the Help Center said up to five ads would show on a given page. The Help Center has since been updated to say up to six ads may be shown, but we have seen instances of seven ads at a time.