So, I was busy scrolling through my newsfeed when I saw that The Onion Fanpage shared a link with me:

A facebook post from the Onion showing a man singing kareoke

And it worked. I smiled and clicked to read the rest of the satirical story. But then I wondered, how is The Onion making money off this? How does the economics of this move shake out? After all The Onion doesn’t have native advertising in the same way that BuzzFeed does?

But it didn’t take me long to find out:

A news story on The Onion website

The advertised story was a video, and the video featued a pre-roll ad for Porsche. Boom, suddenly it made a lot of sense for The Onion to advertise their story in my newsfeed, knowing I’m a fan of theirs, and doing it for a cheap flat rate in order to take advantage of their naturally high CTR. They get a lot more traffic which more than pays for the ads when that traffic views pre-rolls on their site. Genius.

So what’s the point?

There’s something odd about advertising to people in order to get those same people to look at someone else’s ads, if you think about it in those terms. You’d almost think that such an arrangement would be hard to make work.

And what makes it work is the Fan-Like relationship between The Onion and its readers on Facebook. It’s a lot cheaper for The Onion to reach out to drive traffic by advertising to and communicating with their identified readers on Facebook, than it is for Porsche to pay for a pre-roll ad on The Onion’s premium content.

So while Page Post ads might now be all the rage, because they allow advertisers to advertise to Non-Fans, keep in mind that Social Media ads still tend to deliver the best results when there’s an actual “social” connection between the advertiser and the audience.