Facebook Testing New Ad Format?

    April 2, 2009
    Chris Crum

Update: I contacted Facebook asking for more details on the testing, and I was given only the following official statement from the company:

Facebook recently began testing a module that appears periodically in the right-side ad space that show relevant content in addition to the ads that would normally appear there.  This content includes Facebook Pages of which a user’s friends have become a fan, Events that a user’s friends are attending, and people who are friends of a user’s friends. While the advertisements are paid placements, the content is not, and is part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to surface relevant content and friend information in more places on the site. As with all tests, Facebook will evaluate user responses and make ongoing modifications to the features of the module.

Original Article: AllFacebook’s Nick O’Neill received a screenshot of what is supposedly a new advertising layout Facebook is testing that shows 5 ads instead of 3 and has a wider layout.

When I browse Facebook, I see combinations of ads ranging from one at at time to five at a time, but they don’t look quite like what AllFacebook received. Here are the two side by side. Allfacebook’s screenshot is on the left, and what I see is on the right.

-New Advertisement Layout Screenshot-New Facebook Ad Format?

Perhaps more interesting from what O’Neill has to say is that advertisers are telling him they "are seeing much higher conversion rates despite lower click through rates" compared to Google ads. "The result is that advertisers keep coming back and continue increasing their ad expenditure," he says.

I said before that perhaps Facebook should be considered Google’s greatest threat as far as where advertisers spend their money. The gap continues to narrow between the two in terms of unique visitors:

It is not my opinion that Facebook ads will kill AdWords. I think they can put a dent in Google’s ad revenue, but the two are too different for them not to co-exist. Google ads target what searchers are looking for. Facebook ads target users who don’t know they’re looking for anything until they realize they see something cool being served to them. That has a lot of potential given that they’re tailored to users’ specific interests.