Facebook Starts Turning Listen, Read, and Watch Stories Into Ads

When you listen, read, or watch through a Facebook Open Graph app, a few of your friends hear about through the news feed, Ticker, or Timeline. Starting this week, Facebook is allowing advertisers to pay for more exposure of listen, read, or watch stories that mention them by turning the stories into a new form of Sponsored Story social ads.

Open Graph action Sponsored Stories could further Facebook’s goal of turn all ads social, and boost revenue by filling the new inventory from Facebook now permitting Sponsored Stories ads in the news feed.

Facebook tells me that for now this is a small pilot program being tested with just a few advertisers, but it could blossom into the ability for advertisers to sponsor any Open Graph action. Above you’ll see a mockup of what the ads could look like in the news feed.

Previously, advertisers could only turn actions taken by users on their own Pages, apps, and local business Places into Sponsored Stories. This excluded plenty of advertisers whose content was being interacted with through apps owned by others. For example, a record label could Sponsor Likes of their artists’ Pages, but not listens of those artists through Spotify.

Now, a band could sponsor listens of their songs, and TV studios could sponsor watches of their episodes on Hulu or Netflix. Catering to a wider range of advertisers, anyone featured in a news article could pay to expose a link to it to the friends of those who’ve already read it. These action Sponsored Story ads complement Open Graph activity ad targeting that lets advertisers reach users who’ve taken a selected action with traditional ads.

Facebook sees Open Graph applications as the soul of its future ads business. Rather than letting advertisers bombard users with irrelevant pitches based on general biographical data, ads show the actions of friends and are targeted by a user’s own behavior. This creates a win trifecta — more relevant ads for users, better – and conversion rates for advertisers, and more money for Facebook and its future investors.