Facebook has confirmed that it’s testing a new ad unit that puts non-social ads in the News Feed. Currently, standard ad units, or Marketplace ads, are displayed in the right-hand sidebar of the social network. Generally these ads include a thumbnail image and ad copy promoting a Page or a website.
Now Page-Like ads, which feature a Like button and your Page’s fan count, are appearing within News Feeds under the label “Page You May Like.” The News Feed is typically reserved for Sponsored Stories, which are ads triggered by the actions of fans and their friends.
The ad unit being tested doesn’t require a fan to have a friend connected to the Page, indicating that Facebook is warming up to the idea of promoting non-social content in the News Feed. It’s likely that a change-up will rub some members the wrong way, but well-targeted ads could be successful.
Inside Facebook shared a great example: “… a user might not have any friends that like the ‘Start-Ups: Silicon Valley’ page…but if the user likes other reality TV, the show might be interesting to them. On the other hand, a Sponsored Story about three friends Liking the Gerber page is irrelevant if the user doesn’t have a baby.”
What it will come down to is how members react to non-social News Feed ads. Facebook has previously noted that it’s monitoring engagement and sentiment around them to determine which units are most effective without disrupting the overall user experience. At this time, it’s unclear whether any ads leading to external websites (off-Facebook) will be eligible.