Facebook To Simplify Ad-Buying Process By Eliminating Half Of Its 27 Ad Units

Facebook is wrapping up a press session at its Menlo Park headquarters where it talked about the progress that it’s making with advertisers and announced it will be eliminating and consolidating a number of ad units.

The big vision, according to Product Manager Fidji Simo, is to simplify the general process of running ads on Facebook. She said that when Facebook looked at its 27 different ad products, it found that “every single product is really good on its own,” but “the whole is less than the sum of its parts.” The process is too complicated right now, she said (which could potentially scare businesses away or mean that they run less effective campaigns). Ultimately, advertisers should just tell Facebook “who you are, what your message is, and what your objective is,” then they should be able to run the kind of campaign that works for them without any “guesswork.”

Somewhat confusingly, given that vision, it sounds like Facebook actually isn’t announcing changes to the ad-buying workflow. When one of the reporters asked about this, Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth said that the bidding process isn’t changing at all. Simo said the announced changes fall into three different categories — streamlining the number of ad formats, “really bringing the best of Sponsored Stories to all ads,” and increasing the consistency in how ads are displayed. Basically, it sounds like Facebook is eliminating and consolidating of a number of different ad products. Simo argued that this gets Facebook closer to its vision “by reducing the possibility of choosing the wrong thing.”

For example, Facebook is eliminating the Questions product and instead adding the ability to ask Questions within a regular Page Post. It’s also eliminating the product for online offers, because advertisers are just promote a link that points users to an offers on their website. (It’s keeping the product to promote in-store offers.) And it’s also eliminating Sponsored Story units and instead integrating Sponsored Story into a number of other ad units — instead of allowing advertisers to buy a Sponsored Story, Facebook will automatically add “social context” to an ad whenever such context exists. (You can see an example of an ad with social context below.)

facebook sponsored story

Most of these changes won’t happen until the third or fourth quarter of this year, Simo said, although some of them may come sooner.

There are more details in a just-published Facebook blog post. The company says, “In the next six months, we plan to streamline the number of ad units from 27 to fewer than half of that while mapping all of our ads to the business objectives marketers care about — be it in-store sales, online conversions, app installs, etc.”