Facebook Ad Partner Experian Launches New Platform For Timeline, Sponsored Stories

As we approach the date for Facebook’s meet-up with brands and marketers in New York, here’s another development in the world of Facebook that points to growing sophistication around social advertising.

Techlightenment, a division of Experian and Facebook’s first partner when it launched APIs for ads in 2010, has now upgraded its Alchemy platform to work more closely with Facebook’s Timeline and Sponsored Stories features, a move that also puts the platform in position for any future advertising developments that Facebook has in store.

Alchemy’s MD, Will Ashton, tells us that it has already migrated all of its current clients — around 200 major brands and agencies internationally — to the new platform, and today it is opening it up for business to newcomers.

The platform has been designed to work with the newer advertising features that Facebook has been adding to the network, and, by many expectations, will be expanding even further — potentially into areas like mobile — possibly as soon as the end of this month.

Social media marketing is a still-nascent area of digital advertising, but it is one that is growing quickly, not least because of Facebook. According to figures from Econsultancy, 70 percent of marketers say they plan to increase their budgets for social media in 2012.

But that number could be dented by the fact that at the moment 40 percent of those investing in social advertising have not been able to measure the effect of that ad spend well enough.

That is where Alchemy “2” comes in: the company says that some of the features include the ability to create “thousands” of customized Facebook ads in 30 minutes, with real-time feedback on how the campaign is performing with users; and the ability to be flexible with budgets based on how that campaign is performing in new features like the Timeline.

The killer statistic for signing on to advertise in the new formats, though, seems to be this: Ashton claims that brands that have launched campaigns through Sponsored Stories have seen twice as much engagement (that is, more click-throughs) from users than ads that “run on the right side of the screen.”

It helps that they are in your line of sight, of course, but equally important, says Ashton, is that the rise of Sponsored Stories has made marketers more aware of what they should be doing to get users to respond. “It’s about harmonizing ad strategies with content,” he says.

Ashton acknowledges that as a partner to Facebook, his company may know a little more about what the social network might do next, but he would not be drawn out on what that might be. However, he’s firmly of the belief that if mobile is a part, brands will come running:

“Within Facebook’s user base, a lot are using mobile,” he pointed out. Facebook itself noted in the S-1 that around 425 million of its 845 million monthly users are accessing on mobile. “Advertisers are naturally interested in what will happen there.”