No More Sponsored Stories On Facebook

Scott Lambert

The social media giant has announced that sponsored stories are to disappear from Facebook effective April 9th. Due to their high potential for conversion, sponsored stories had been very popular with marketers; however, some users disliked them enough to leave the site altogether and others took Facebook to court. Just as Facebook decides they have had enough, however, Google has announced that they have plans to implement a similar feature on their own ads.

What is the problem with sponsored stories? It all boils down to two things: privacy and consent. Many users felt that their privacy was violated when Facebook let others know what brands or organizations they had "liked". Others argued that because Facebook never gave them the chance to opt out of this feature, and helped itself to their names and images for use in sponsored stories, it was actually in breach of the law. Last August Facebook settled a class action lawsuit pertaining to the matter for $20m, just under one-sixth of the money they had made from sponsored stories but enough to make them nervous.

In introducing their own "shared endorsements" feature, Google appears to be taking note of Facebook’s troubles and adopting a rather more cautious approach, allowing users to opt out. “Don't worry, your account’s privacy settings are not affected,” they noted in a statement. “You get to decide whether you want your name and photo included in shared endorsements that appear in ads through the Shared Endorsements setting. And for users under 18, their actions won’t appear in Shared Endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.”

Is Google attempting to cash in on Facebook’s woes? Perhaps. Marketing schemes of this sort have a lot of potential because people’s purchasing decisions are often most strongly influenced by their peers; therefore, seeing that a friend has previously purchased a product or service is likely to make it seem appealing. Facebook, however, does not seem to have given up the game just yet. In dropping the sponsored stories format, they have announced that “instead, social context – stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant – is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.” Adverts will still be able to incorporate "likes" provided that they are not the ad’s main focus. It remains to be seen how users will react to the change.

Scott Lambert

Written by Scott Lambert

For 35 years, Scott has been at the forefront of digital transformation and how it is effectively applied in businesses and organizations to market, sell, and support customers and members more successfully and cost effectively. Scott is President and Co-Founder of Xcellimark, an award-winning digital marketing agency serving clients throughout the U.S., Canada, Central America, and Germany. Xcellimark helps businesses succeed through the implementation of its unique digital marketing and sales approach specifically designed to meet their specific goals and objectives. Scott’s marketing, sales, and operations experience have included key management positions at industry leaders including AT&T, iXL (now SapientRazorfish), eSchool Solutions (now TalentED), and BellSouth, where he led the product development, marketing efforts, and market launch of, the second public ISP developed in the U.S. Scott is the author of articles highlighted on leading online publishers such as LinkedIn, Business 2 Community, and he was recently featured by LinkedIn in the Entrepreneur magazine article on “No Time for Marketing? Hire a Freelancer.” His engaging personality and wealth of real-world and business experience make Scott a frequently requested speaker. Some of his engagements include being the featured speaker in a series of Orlando Business Journal seminars on Digital Marketing, speaking at the WSI London conference, and at international conferences in Belize. Scott has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Mississippi and a Master’s of Science in the Management of Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Scott has been active in global mission efforts and is a board member of Global Teams, a Christian outreach organization. He lives in Winter Springs, FL with his wife Nancy and dog Sadie.

Topics: Social Media

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