Facebook begins testing new mobile Sponsored Story design

Facebook is trying out another new look for its mobile page-Like Sponsored Story ads, according to TechCrunch. The latest design features larger images to catch users’ eyes and more context to encourage users to convert directly from the mobile feed.

The design is similar to what Facebook introduced for mobile app install ads last month, with a horizontal image across the top, a longer description and more social context. Images and copy are pulled from a page’s cover photo, profile picture and about section, so advertisers should consider how well their cover photo works when scaled down to fit mobile and when a portion is blocked by their profile image.

Facebook product manager Jeff Kanter told TechCrunch this layout is an alternative to the current “Pages You May Like” module, which typically shows two or three Sponsored Stories at a time and includes a lot of gray that users might have been likely to scroll past quickly. Now, Facebook will show one Sponsored Story with more context and a clearer call to action. This could increase clickthrough rates and result in more page Likes directly from the unit.

With ads now appearing in the feed, Facebook has to make sponsored content just as engaging as organic content in order to keep users coming back. The company has experimented with a number of designs for the mobile and desktop feed in the past several months, whereas sidebar ads have stayed relatively static over the years because they aren’t as likely to disrupt the user experience. By making ads more core to the product, Facebook seems to be doing more to optimize their appearance and performance, which could make its ads more effective than ever. Many advertisers are already seeing ads in the feed with clickthrough rates above 1 percent, which is mostly unheard of for Facebook’s sidebar ads.

TechCrunch did not say whether this latest design will include a way for users to hide or mark the story as spam, which we pointed out earlier this week is an issue for many of Facebook’s existing mobile ad units.