Facebook Announces Group and Messenger Ads

Facebook just released it’s 4th quarter earnings for 2016 and it’s a blowout. Earnings per share of $1.41 and 1.86 billion daily active users. And get this: 84% of it’s revenue is from ads. It’s no wonder why Facebook has decided to explore new options for expanding that ad revenue. While that might not sound exciting as a user, as an agency who depends on Facebook ads for achieving incredible results for it’s clients that is an intriguing notion. What, specifically, are they considering pray tell? So far it’s looking like some new tools involving placing ads in Groups and in Messages, two territories thus far not touched by ads.

Last October, Facebook began testing ads in some select groups in smaller markets. “We have started to test delivering ads to people in Facebook Groups, and will be evaluating the response before determining how we will move forward,” Facebook told TechCrunch in a statement. They will look essentially the same as standard newsfeed ads and have targeting criteria that utilize both standard targeting features as well as group interest-based targeting. Facebook confirmed that mobile and desktop versions of Groups in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand are part of the trial.

Interestingly, this might be a good thing for both publishers and users alike. While users may be initially dismayed by additional ad placements, this could lead to a reduction in ad load in other parts of the platform. A reduction in load will not only bring the cost down for publishers (meaning that smaller businesses might be able to compete for more newsfeed ad placements), it will also mean that more relevant ads can be displayed to individuals through a reduction in competition for fewer spots. Everything that Facebook does is in the interest of increasing the user experience so this could be an interesting step in that direction.

In addition to the group ad testing, Facebook recently confirmed that it is testing “a “very small test” in Australia and Thailand, which will allow businesses to place an ad on the Messenger home screen.” The ads will allow publishers to place ads on the home screen of the app that will appear as small cards with thumbnail images. Facebook has been quick to point out that the ads will not be placed inside of messages as some outlets previously speculated.

“Businesses have long been telling us that they are very excited about the potential of the Messenger platform to reach their customers and help them to drive sales, build brand awareness and increase customer satisfaction,” writes Facebook Product Manager Eddie Zhang, in an announcement detailing the new ads.

Keep an eye out for larger roll outs of these two new targeting placements in the coming months as the tests wind down and they analyze the results.