Facebook recently mentioned here on their road map that Sponsored Stories will be sunsetted as of April 9th, 2014. The writing was on the walls in June when Facebook mentioned they would be focusing on Social Context for all Facebook ads in the coming months and that would make the popular Sponsored Stories redundant. A recent class action lawsuit probably didn’t help keep the Sponsored Stories from sailing off into Caribbean sunset. That is how I imagine Sponsored Stories, on a little boat sailing off into the sunset to the island of misfit ad programs.
Facebook provided the following statement to Mashable regarding the phasing out of Sponsored Stories.
“As announced in June of last year, we’re bringing the best of sponsored stories — social context — to all ads. Since this update makes sponsored stories redundant, we will no longer offer them as a stand-alone ad unit for marketers. Social context will continue to appear with all ads where eligible. Our social advertising honors the audience that people choose, so nobody will see information in social context for an ad that they couldn’t already see”
What Does This Mean?
- Domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be allowed to be created. Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will cease to have delivery after April 9th.
- Sponsored Stories will be rolled into other Ads – For example after April, a Sponsored Story highlighting a page like will turn into a page liked ads.
- Targeting Changes
- Segments – Facebook provides this example regarding new segmenting “Historically, if you selected “Parents” “Photography” “Photo uploader” within interests, the audience constructed was People who are Parents OR interested in Photography OR people who upload [many] Photos. However, the intended audience was: “Parents, who are interested in photography and upload pictures.” Now, the specific audience will be targeted as intended.”
- Interests – Facebook precise interests such as keyword, #topic & broad interest targeting will be consolidated. For example, targeting keywords “Baseball”, #Baseball will be consolidated into one target interest. The focus will be less on keywords and more on interests.
- Geographic – You will now be able to target just “California” compared to before where you would need to target “US” and “California”
- Test Other Facebook Ad Formats – With sponsored stories out, there should be less clutter and allow for better performance but it will be important to test what format works better for you.
- Social Context is Key – The social aspect of sponsored stories will now be rolled out across all ads on Facebook. Facebook provides this example “stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.“
- Engagement will be more important than ever. With social context added to every ad, it will important to focus on increasing overall engagement with your page to help increase likes and expand your reach.
What Else Can You Do?
- Google+ Shared Endorsements
- Facebook Custom Audiences
- Facebook Lookalike Audiences
- Facebook Category/Interest Ad Targeting
- Facebook Newsfeed Retargeting
Shared Endorsements is Google +’s version of sponsored stories. If Facebook Sponsored Stories performed well for your account, Shared Endorsements might be another opportunity for your program on a smaller scale. We’ve also seen great success with Facebook Newsfeed Retargeting. In one account, we saw 79% lower Cost Per Conversions for Facebook Newsfeed retargeting compared to AdWords. We saw almost identical performance with a Facebook Category & Interest Targeting campaigns. As Social Context is added to all ad formats moving forward, we would expect performance to improve but only time will tell!