Last year Facebook tested out and then launched Facebook Exchange ads in its right-hand column, a way for advertisers to market themselves to users based on those users’ online browsing habits, using a cookie-based real-time bidding platform. Those ads have proven to be some of Facebook’s strongest performing ad units, so now it’s taking them a step further, with an alpha test to extend FBX ads into the desktop News Feed, the place where users spend most of their time on the social network.
It’s important to note that this move will not increase the number of ads that Facebook shows in the News Feed; but it will make them based on where else you have been online. That could be useful, or it could be creepy. Facebook itself believes that more relevant means more useful. “Allowing advertisers to reach people in News Feed is important because people spend more time in News Feed than any other part of Facebook,” Facebook writes. “We also believe that ads delivered through FBX will create more relevant ads for people. Introducing Facebook Exchange in Desktop News Feed will not change the number of ads people see in their News Feeds.”
For now, the alpha test is desktop-only and does not cover mobile platforms. “Right now we’re focused on desktop,” a spokesperson tells TechCrunch. “Desktop is more in line with what FBX has been doing effectively in the right hand side. And we also find that desktop is the place where more people convert from seeing direct-response ads.”
The move will mean that advertisers will be able to offer links to specific landing pages.
It comes on the heels of Facebook upgrading its News Feed earlier this month with bigger pictures and separate feeds for music, pictures and more — a move that gives users a nicer experience, but now also makes some sense in the context of enhanced advertising, too.
And the expanded role for FBX comes also as Facebook is increasing the number of data sources that it uses to gather information about online browsing habits, which will serve to make those retargeted ads more relevant.
“We wanted to give advertisers and agencies the opportunity to deliver highly relevant ads in News Feed, the most engaging place on the web,” Facebook writes in its blog post.
That will prove to be a potent combination when combined with FBX. Early results show that FBX ads gave a 16-time return on investment to advertisers using the platform, according to AdRoll, one of Facebook’s early DSP partners for the initial roll out.
Demand-side platform partners for the alpha test in the News Feed are TellApart, MediaMath, and Nanigans. Facebook says that it plans to expand that to more DSPs and advertisers in the coming weeks.