If you have been thinking, “What I would really like to see on Facebook is more obvious advertising,” your wish is about to be granted. Rumors have been swirling that Facebook is on the verge of rolling out big changes in its advertising system. Reports suggest the changes will be implemented on February 29, but there are signs that the new advertising features may appear sooner than anyone expected.

The Evolving Facebook Ad

Last week, Twitter officially released its self-service advertising platform. The initial release is limited to 10,000 small and medium businesses that use and accept American Express. The new advertising platform is projected to almost double the projected US$ 139.5 million in ad revenue the company generated last year. This week, it’s Facebook’s turn to take its advertising features up a notch.

Although Facebook earned US$ 3.2 billion in advertising revenue last year, according to research firm eMarketer Inc., Facebook has been almost constantly revamping its ad offering and system. Facebook joined the daily deals craze last summer and ended the program only four months later. In October 2011, the company added a new ad format, Page Post Ads, which allowed advertisers to turn any post into a Facebook ad and display it to any Facebook user, even if the user wasn’t a fan of the page. Facebook also made additional changes in October; it introduced metrics for marketers to analyze ad performance and adds new features to premium ads. Now, more changes are coming.

New Premium Ads, Better Deals

This morning when I logged into Facebook, instead of mundane details of my friends’ morning routines and reposts of the latest Internet meme, I saw:

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The ad was embedded directly in my stream. According to a Facebook representative, the company is conducting a limited test of the new format, which I assume can only be Facebook Deals, the Sequel. Selecting “Get Offer” displays:

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However, this isn’t all Facebook has in store. Leaked documents on Scribd detail Facebook’s new premium ad strategy. The updated ad platform will take advantage of the Page Post enhancements made in October, and embed six new ad types directly in content. The changes will eliminate four existing ad types -- premium like, premium event, video comment and premium poll. The new system will allow advertisers to make a page post (status update, photo, video, link, question or event) and promote it as an ad. The ad can be targeted at anyone, including users who are not fans. 

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The changes will only affect premium ads, not self-service ads or Marketplace ads. According to the leaked presentation, the enhanced ads perform better than classic in several ways:

  • 40% increase engagement
  • 80% more likely to be remembered
  • 16% increase fans

A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the changes.