Facebook promotes user education with new icon above ads

Facebook has added a small icon linking to an “About Facebook Advertising” page next to the word “Sponsored” above ad units on the site.

This gives users a quick way to learn more about how Facebook ads work and why users see the ads they see. Rather than burying this info page in the Help Center, the social network is including a link to it above every group of ads on the site. As the company introduces new types of ads and makes headlines for its evolving advertising model, user education is crucial to avoiding misunderstanding and backlash.

Facebook seems to be tracking which ad campaign was running at the top of a group of ads when users click the icon, which could deliver insights about which type of ads users might be concerned about.

The new icon uses the megaphone symbol Facebook uses to denote its ad product. It is different from the small “F” logo on Zynga.com, where Facebook is testing off-site ads for the first time. In the short term, the ads icon next to “Sponsored” could help draw users’ eyes to the right-hand sidebar because it is new. This might temporarily help advertisers get noticed, but if users click on the icon, they are taken to a new page so they might be able to see or take action on an ad. Either way, users are likely become quickly accustomed to seeing the icon so any of these effects won’t be lasting. This change seems more aimed at user education than affecting ad clickthrough rates.

In December, Facebook promoted the “About Facebook Advertising” page at the top of some users’ News Feeds. The page positions ads as a way to keep the social network free for users. It emphasizes that ads are shown without personally identifying users, and reminds people that they can choose not to see certain ads by clicking the X in the corner.