Open Graph Sponsored Stories: Laser-Focused Ad-Targeting For Facebook Apps, Content

Mobile application install ads and domain sponsored stories are currently the most widely used ways for advertising apps or content-heavy websites on Facebook. These types of ads make it possible to promote likes, shares, and app installations in an efficient manner, but is this really all?

Mobile application install ads and domain sponsored stories are currently the most widely used ways for advertising apps or content-heavy websites on Facebook. These types of ads make it possible to promote likes, shares, and app installations in an efficient manner, but is this really all?

Since the introduction of Open Graph in 2012, user interactions on apps or websites have been displayed on Facebook with much more variety than ever before, and Open Graph sponsored stories are a valuable tool for promoting these interactions.

What can be advertised? Based on Open Graph actions (called “stories” in the new Open Graph dashboard) published via Facebook apps, Open Graph sponsored stories are expanding these actions’ reach among friends of users who have published them.

Since sponsored stories always include links to the respective Open Graph content objects, they always advertise the app itself. This means that Open Graph sponsored stories are aimed primarily at accelerating user growth of certain apps.

Open Graph sponsored stories may also be employed to advertise content-heavy websites by displaying interactions between users and content as Open Graph actions. For this purpose, individual custom actions for apps are just as useful as the well-known common actions (“read,” “watch,” etc.).

What are the requirements? In order to use Open Graph sponsored stories, an existing application or website integrated with Open Graph is required, with a significant number of actions published by a large user base (in our example, actions with just a few hundred unique publishers were not sufficient to create a sponsored stories campaign).

The type of the app is of secondary importance — be it a tab app, a canvas app, a mobile app, or a self-contained Web app — the only thing that really matters are the actions published via Open Graph. As a consequence, the advantage goes to businesses and brands that have already started to incorporate Open Graph into their Facebook strategies.

In the following examples, Open Graph sponsored stories will be illustrated by means of our own Open Graph reference app, Last.fm Scrobbler for Facebook. The app is used to connect music service Last.fm to users’ Facebook Timelines in a similar way to how Spotify does it — music that users listen to is automatically posted to their profiles using the action “scrobble” (instead of ”listen”). Due to the huge numbers of actions published, scrobble is the perfect choice for Open Graph sponsored stories.

Following are a few examples of how to promote Last.fm Scrobbler with Open Graph sponsored stories:

  • Advertise the app to all users whose friends have published any action via it.
  • Advertise Kanye West to all users whose friends have listened to a track by this artist.
  • Advertise the song “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk to all users whose friends have already listened to this track via our app and who are interested in Daft Punk but do not yet use our app themselves.

Open Graph sponsored stories are mostly unknown. They are not even mentioned in the official Facebook media kit. This may be simply because it is not yet possible to implement this type of ad via Facebook’s own tools (Ads Manager and Power Editor). Instead, third-party tools must be used in order to distribute these ads.

In this blog post, we’ll use Qwaya to publish Open Graph sponsored stories. Qwaya offers a 30-day free trial, while the premium version is still moderately priced at $39 per month for 20 ads per day or $149 for unlimited ads.

Other tools supporting Open Graph sponsored stories include Pulse by AdParlor, Glow, Nanigans, Social Moov, and adSage.Social.