Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyles confirmed that advertisements and Sponsored Stories will be coming to the Ticker, the real time news feed that scrolls out, Twitter style, a stream of updates about activities of friends.
Facebook’s launch of its Ticker earlier this year was met with a loud chorus of complaints by many who said it provided too much information, too fast, and was distracting, but users have not had much to say about it recently so have either been numbed into silence or, as so often happens in the internet age, simply blocked it out. This may be the right time then, for Facebook to add even more information in the form of sponsored ads. Mr. Noyles said:
Or, in Noyle’s FacebookSpeak: “With these changes, people may see a varying number of ads or Sponsored Stories, alongside organic content. In testing, we’ve found this leads to more engagement with both paid and organic content.”
I use Facebook every day and count myself among the many members who enjoy and appreciate this free service, but can’t help but notice that while there is no Ticker feature here in Thailand yet, the number of sponsored stories in the right hand column, running alongside my list of friends, has increased dramatically over the past three months, from 2 to 3 at the most, to, more often than not, 6 advertisements. This high number of ads has become the rule, not the exception.
Facebook is not alone in its move to blend advertisements (“sponsored stories”) in with its genuine and original content (“organic”) – this is a growing trend among websites, in an effort to bring in more revenue and benefit from the website’s popularity. Twitter provides sponsored Tweets, and promoted Trends, which otherwise appear only if they are popular enough. StumbleUpon, a website that helps surfers discover interesting websites, and Digg, a website that helps surface the best stories, also incorporate sponsored ads in their content.