Facebook’s social ads are no longer a test for Facebook — a majority of Facebook page views display a social or Sponsored Story ad, said Gokul Rajaram, Facebook’s Product Director of Ads at today’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference. He also notes that including social information in Facebook ads leads to a 68% increase in ad recall and a four times higher likelihood of buying a product compared to traditional Facebook display ads.
Rajaram explains that “no one wants to receive a message from a brand” — instead, social ads let users “view a brand message through the prism of their friends”. In this way, users become customers not just because of a brand’s ads, but because people they trust support those brands.
Rajaram also discussed how brands advertising for their Facebook Pages earn additional conversions on top of those they directly pay for thanks to the news feed. When users see an ad for a Page and Like it, it publishes a news feed story that their friends see. These friends take the story as an implicit social recommendation and go on to Like the Page themselves. He cited a brand that gained tens of thousands of unpaid Likes as a result of a paid campaign.
Social ads are a core advantage of Facebook over other ad-supported websites. By leveraging the connections and actions of its users, it is able to provide advertisers a way of amplifying the word of mouth known to convince consumers. Without a dense social graph to build on, ads on other websites are less compelling. If Facebook brought this social ad experience out of the site’s chrome and let publishers embed it on their website through an Open Graph ad unit, it could create a significant new revenue stream.