A few weeks ago, Facebook launched their Sponsored Stories initiative to allow advertisers to promote specific posts within users' news feed. The sponsored stories are not newly generated ads, but already-existing posts that companies can pay to promote after the fact. You can identify a Sponsored Stories by the
impossible to see slightly visible gray text near the timestamp on posts.
Now, Facebook is allowing the "action" posts - reading, watching, listening - to be turned into ads and given prominence on both your ticker and your news feed.
According to Josh Constine at Tech Crunch, Facebook is allowing this a small pilot program for the time being, but it could definitely turn into a situation where any and every advertiser could promote any Open Graph action.
The Open Graph actions, of course, are part of Facebook's big push toward "frictionless sharing." You know the types of posts - "John Grant listened to Kanye West on Spotify" or "Jessica Smith read 'Obama's Economy' on The Washington Post." These are the stories that appear in your ticker and oftentimes in your news feed that show activities in which your friends are participating.
The "frictionless" part comes from the automatic sharing of the activity once you've authorized it's connection with Facebook.
This change would mean that instead of Spotify being the only entity that could sponsor and promote a post about someone listening to a song, now a record company or a band itself could promote these types of stories.
As Constine points out, the Open Graph is the key to the future of advertising on Facebook. It provides for more targeted ads based on user's own activities and that of their friends.
Facebook's sponsored stories have gone through a slight name change, with the company referring to them as "featured stories" now. One report says that these featured/sponsored stories are going to be coming to your mobile devices within the next few weeks.