Facebook is bringing ads to your news feed. You may not see these ads yet, as Facebook is rolling this feature out slowly, but don’t worry: they’ll be here soon enough. Disguised as regular news items, these ads will blend effortlessly into your feed. The only difference will be a small line of text reading “Featured,” which will differentiate these paid ads from other items on your News Feed.
Yet again, Facebook is reminding us that we’re not a consumer of Facebook, but part of the product. For most Facebook users, the addition of ads to the News Feed won’t even be noticed. If you like a company’s Facebook page, you’re probably already seeing their updates in your feed. After all, this is the entire point of Facebook Pages: to allow users to interact with brands and companies they like.
Instead, these new Facebook News Feed ads are simply another way for Facebook to make money off of advertising companies. It’s yet another place to feature an ad and another opportunity to sell advertising packages. Will News Feed ads further increase users interaction with companies? Probably not. Will this ad space be an easy sell to companies? Absolutely.
I’ve actually been impressed with Facebook’s last few tactical moves. The most recent site redesign, which received numerous criticisms, has dramatically increased the site’s usability and the ease of access to information, in my opinion. The personalized learning feed has also helped narrow down the onslaught of extraneous information (as long as people took the time to set it up a little, rather than just complaining about it).
Yet, these changes aren’t the key to Facebook’s success. Users don’t pay a single cent to Facebook. Rather, the entire website, every aspect of the design, feed, and pages, is designed for companies. Companies who want to serve you ads. Allowing companies to serve ads in your News Feed was the obvious next step for Facebook. Not because Facebook hates you, but because it’s a way to take more money from the companies who pay for Facebook ads. And companies want a new way to infiltrate themselves further into your life.
So, say hello to News Feed ads. And every time you scroll past one, remember that someone bet money on the fact that you’d actually spend your hard earned cash as a result of seeing this ad in your News Feed rather than the numerous other places Facebook serves ads.