The Pros And Cons Of Facebook’s Domain Sponsored Stories

By Justin Lafferty 

More companies are catching on to a Facebook ad product that used to be mainly used by Amazon: domain sponsored stories. For instance, if you share a link from Amazon, the company can then share that link again on friends’ news feeds at a later date. Facebook marketing expert Jon Loomer wrote in-depth about how a page administrator can create a domain sponsored story and gain successful click-through rates on those ads, but Inside Facebook noted that they can often be confusing for users.

Loomer wrote that domain sponsored stories can prove beneficial, but only for the right kinds of companies. If a brand has a new or lightly visited website, it won’t really see many returns from domain sponsored stories, as there won’t really be many people sharing links from the site on Facebook, Loomer wrote:

Before I get to the steps involved, let me be clear that this isn’t for everyone. If you have a new or little trafficked blog, you’re going to create ads that generate no activity.

You need to leverage the traction you already have. The goal is to have someone with a significant following share your content so that Facebook can promote that for you. If very few people share your content — or if those who do have a small following — there are fewer opportunities to generate ads.

PageLever told Loomer that it saw CTRs as high as 10 percent on one link (granted, it was one shared by former Facebook president Sean Parker). Loomer said that his own domain sponsored stories generally yield between 1 percent and 2 percent CTRs.

In a blog post on his website, Loomer wrote up a thorough walkthrough of creating a domain sponsored story.

However, domain sponsored stories can be a bit confusing for users. Unlike other types of news feed ads, which are more easily identifiable as ads, the main change that is made in a domain sponsored story is just the word “sponsored” in the time stamp.

Inside Facebook’s Brittany Darwell notes that for someone whose eyes don’t go right to “sponsored,” the domain sponsored story can be confusing. It’s unclear whether or not the ad is coming from their friend or from the page, in this case LivingSocial:

This could have been promoted by the user as a way to get more friends to join her in the event. It could have been sponsored by LivingSocial as a way to get more people to check out the deal. Or it could have been paid for by Tough Mudder, the event organizer. When users see the “sponsored” label, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the details of Facebook advertising, they might have different assumptions about who’s paying for it, which could affect their perceptions of the ad or the user involved.

One solution Darwell raised was to have the name of the advertiser evident when someone mouses over “Sponsored.” That might help the confusion.

Readers: How often do you notice domain sponsored stories?

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock. Domain sponsored story image courtesy of Inside Facebook.