Facebook announces long-awaited ad strategy

FacebookFacebook has unveiled a new advertising system that will enable marketers to be “part of the conversation”. Facebook Ads will allow brands to create their own pages which users can then recommend to friends.

Announcing the social network’s long-awaited advertising strategy in New York yesterday (Tuesday), founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said peer recommendation was the “Holy Grail of advertising”.

He added: “For the last 100 years, media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be part of the conversation. Nothing influences people more than the recommendation of a trusted friend.”

The new ad system is launching with 100,000 company profile pages. These pages will replace the “sponsored groups” Facebook previously sold to brands.

The company pages are similar to user profile pages, containing applications, information, videos and other content. Users can choose to be “fans” of the pages, allowing brands to send them messages.

Facebook users can also share their interaction through a programme dubbed “Beacon”. They will be able to alert friends when they post an item for sale on eBay, for example.

Facebook Ads is based around the concept of communication moving not from the brand to the consumer but from the consumer to his or her friends. Facebook will then allow brands to attach adverts to notifications.

Twelve of the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola and Sony, have signed up as launch advertisers on Facebook Ads.

Coca-Cola’s vice-president of global interactive marketing Carol Kruse says: “With Facebook Ads, our brands can become a part of the way users communicate and interact on Facebook.”

Rival MySpace is launching an advertising platform that will allow brands to target users based on the interests listed on their profile pages. More than 50 companies, including Ford and Procter & Gamble, have signed up to the system, which is being dubbed “HyperTargeting”.

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