Facebook has been experimenting with new advertising formats in hopes to encourage more interaction between consumers and brands. It appears the company has moved past the planning stages as Sponsored Stories have begun to show up in users’ News Feeds.

Last month the social network announced that it will soon start placing Sponsored Stories – an organic way to work brand mentions onto Facebook’s homepage – into the News Feed. The ads already appear on the side of the homepage as well as in the Ticker.

Facebook received a lot of criticism for the integration, but a spokesperson assures users that the ads will be used “sparingly,” and that at most users will see one ad per day inside the News Feed. What’s confusing about this is that these ads are being labeled as “Featured” instead of “Sponsored.” As TechCrunch noted, this could mislead some users into thinking that these ads are important stories about friends or Pages that they’ve Liked.

An advertising spokesperson for Facebook revealed that the terminology choice was made to differentiate these ads from the rest of the ads visible on the site. “Since people can see marketing messages from both Pages they have and have not Liked elsewhere on Facebook, we want to make it clear that marketers can only pay for stories to be featured in your News Feed if you have explicitly Liked the Page.”

A Page or App owner can pay to make stories more visible within the News Feed. Eligible stories include when a Page a user Likes posts something, when a friend Likes a Page or Page post, and when a friend checks in to a business or uses a third-party app. Users can avoid these ads by hiding them individually, adjusting the volume controls for the specific friend that’s generating them, or by unliking the Page buying the ads.

Facebook is slowly introducing Sponsored Stories to the feed to avoid major backlash. For now, users will only see one ad in the News Feed per day. These ads aren’t visible on mobile devices yet.

[Via: TechCrunch, Image credit: Jase Curtis]