Facebook has got a pretty well formed method of advertising to their billions of active users. For a while now, there has been a separation between social advertising and the traditional marketplace ads on Facebook that has been working quite effectively. The separation between the two ad types has always been very evident, which is part of the reason it has worked so successfully. Now, Facebook is apparently testing these traditional marketplace ads in the News Feed setting, alongside the social ads, or suggested and recommended posts, that already reside there. They come up in the News Feed under the title of “Pages You May Like.”

If you have been on Facebook in the past week or so, you have probably seen them. These marketplace ads or “Pages You May Like,” traditionally appeared in the right-hand side bar of a user’s main Facebook page, beside their News Feed.

The “Pages You May Like,” module has existed for some time now on the mobile version of the network, but there have been some major changes. Originally, these ads could only reach friends of fans, similar to recommended pages. They show the page, a few lines of text, friends that like the page, and then the total number of likes the page has. Now, though, the “Pages You May Like,” ads do not have to have any particular connection to a user in order for them to appear in their News Feed.

This is what Facebook said:

“We are currently running a small test that makes other ad units eligible to appear in News Feed. This is just a test; we have no further details to share at this time.”

So, why is the company bothering with essentially moving Sponsored Stories from the sidebar into the social area of the page? You would think that the social ads that exist in the News Feed already would be the ones that work best in a social setting, but InsideFacebook writes;

Although Sponsored Stories about what friends are interested in seem like they would be the most relevant ads because of social context, there are actually times when well-targeted marketplace or page post ads might be better.

This may be true, but these “well-targeted marketplace or page post ads,” were already doing quite well when placed on the right-hand side of page. Moving these to the News Feed where many ads already appear could potentially have some big effects. Already people are beginning to notice the significant growth in number of ads that appear alongside their friends’ statuses and photos in the News Feed, and adding more to the equation may clutter things. Of course, these “Pages You May Like,” will quite possibly see a lot more engagement when placed alongside social content, but people may start getting annoyed by the constant advertisements that are appearing. Currently, with Sponsored Stories on the side, Facebook has a pretty level balance of advertising and social content, and it will be interesting to see how straying from that will result.

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