Facebook to experiment with social ads?

Ad publication MediaWeek recently ran an article proclaiming that Facebook users’ ad clicking behavior would soon show up in their News feed for all of their friends to see. Quoting the article,

The new placement, dubbed Sponsored Stories, appears within Facebook’s News Feed platform. News Feed, which Facebook launched earlier this month to a storm of controversy, provides users with a constantly updating list of “news items” on their personal profile pages. Those news items appear whenever members of individual Facebook users’ network make changes to their own profiles, such as uploading pictures or posting comments.

The new Sponsored Stories ad unit will initially be placed in the third position within each user’s News Feed – as either a small banner-like placements or potentially a video clip. When users elect to click on these ads and then join that advertiser’s ‘group,’ their entire network of friends will be automatically alerted and then given the chance to interact with that particular marketer’s group.

Facebook’s marketing director has hence stated that the article got it wrong. Instead she told TechCrunch,

Only users who have elected to join a sponsored group will be notified when friends in that group click one of the group’s ads…

No one will ever be notified of your ad clicks and the ads will either be for sponsored groups or link directly to an advertiser’s page.

So, it sounds like MediaWeek got some important details wrong. But the fact remains that Facebook is taking small steps toward new forms of social advertising–notifying friends of interaction with a sponsored group is ultimately not that different from notifying friends of interaction with an ad.

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