Facebook’s New “Sampling Engagement Ads” Now Available for Brands

A few brands have already been testing out a new, direct-marketing unit of engagement advertising on Facebook, but today it is available for anyone who buys Facebook home page ads.

Basically, a company can offer free samples, as Texas Pete has for its hot sauce, via a link at the bottom of the home page engagement ad. Click the link and a pop-out window asks you to enter your address so the company can send you the sample. Home page ad campaigns typically cost at least $50,000. Other brands we’ve spotted using the unit include fast-food chain Chik-fil-A, back in August, and Bear Naked granola earlier this week. It will be interesting to see what other types of subscription-oriented companies make use of it. We expect to see more CPG brands using it as well.

The new unit was officially announced on Tuesday in New York, as part of Facebook’s larger push to promote its services to advertising world. Then, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that Texas Pete had given away 5,000 samples of its sauce in just two days, much more than it had been able to before.

The ad unit is not currently available for the company’s self-serve ad system, although one could see it being quite useful for smaller, more local or specialized businesses.

In the ad, Facebook also asks users if they want to use the address they entered to update their contact information — a convenient way for Facebook to gather more accurate data. It also asks them if they want to share the order with their friends. In the ad, however, the company says it will only share your address with the advertiser for the purpose of sending the sample (but not for additional snail-mail marketing, apparently).

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