….however, conflict between user experience and driving more ad dollars looms large….
Facebook formally unveiled the re-design of its News Feed, keen to stress that these changes were implemented “to clean up the page, de-clutter it, make it simpler, more modern and easier for people to use.” The update also means adverts on Facebook will be far more visible to users as they will now take up more screen space, although the social network was quick to deny this was another objective behind the update.
According to Andreas Pouros, COO at London-based digital marketing agency, Greenlight, whilst Facebook’s latest move is shrewd in that it is has re-designed its News Feed to mirror that on mobile where it has proved successful from an advertising perspective, the conflict between user experience and driving more ad dollars looms large.
The re-design is a welcome development as Facebook was beginning to look a little dated.The screenshots show some big aesthetic changes. Instead of a single feed when a user logs in, the change will see multiple feeds dividing content by several categories including music and photos. All in all, this will likely encourage users to stay on the site longer, notes Pouros.
The re-design has also allocated more space to games, music and advertising.
Facebook has claimed nothing has changed when it comes to ads, but has conceded they will take up more space as a result of the redesign.The Redesign mirrors Facebook’s successful format of advertising in newsfeeds on mobile.
In January, Facebook revealed its mobile ad sales had more than doubled on the previous quarter to total $306m, accounting for 23% of the social network’s overall ad revenues. Pouros commented then that the challenge Facebook faced was in how it could increase monetisable engagement between users and advertisers whilst maintaining quality in terms of both targeting and user experience.
“Facebook has taken the success of advertising in peoples’ newsfeeds on mobile and based its News Feed re-design on mirroring that format (or close to it) on all devices – this should boost revenue.” Pouros also noted back in January that Graph Search, Facebook’s smart search engine which it had just launched, was capable of doing this at the local business level, but pointed out that getting increasingly more from the big brands was the big challenge.
The conflict between user experience and driving more ad dollars looms large. “In the last earnings call, Zuckerberg stated Facebook had not seen any evidence that its increased advertising had a negative impact on people,” says Pouros. “The challenge now is to ‘reinvent’ advertising so people don’t feel they are being bombarded by ads. Facebook is now championing ‘high quality advertising’ in an attempt to do that.”
However, research from Greenlight also indicates that Facebook may need to pace itself a little less aggressively when it comes to cashing in on its advertising sweet spot. Findings from the agency’s “Search & Social Survey (2012-2013)”* suggest 15% of users would pay Facebook to see no ads at all (which may of course be an opportunity in of itself), whilst close to 70% say they ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ click on advertisements or sponsored listings in Facebook, so this apathy is very real.
“Notwithstanding, a small minority of users think that Facebook has gone far enough with ads already (using tools like Facebook Purity to strip them out entirely). Only time will tell if Facebook has. And if it has not, when is it too much?
The conflict between user experience and driving more ad dollars looms large. It did with AltaVista historically, who were then unseated in the search engine wars with a new upstart (Google), with a cleaner interface and better user experience.”