Facebook Picks the Pocket: Ads Coming to Smartphones

Facebook Picks the Pocket: Ads Coming to Smartphones

You turn on your PC, peek at your Facebook page and what do you see in your news feed? Your co-worker checked in at Red Lobster, your brother thinks basketball phenom Jeremy Lin is overrated and now might be a good time to reach for a refreshing Coke? What?

That’s what your personal news feed may look like soon when ads begin appearing in the soupy mix of comments, “likes,” invitations and other incoming cyber buzz from your Facebook friends. These new ads will not only make their way to your PC’s Web browser–they will also start appearing where you’ve been able to avoid Facebook ads up to now: On your smartphone.

For Facebook users, the ads in the middle of their personal news streams could be viewed as anything from minor distractions to welcomed interruptions. For advertisers, however, the new Facebook services offer new ways to reach out and interact with Facebook’s 845 million worldwide users, especially those who have already shown an interest in their product or brand pages by clicking the “like” button.

At a special marketing conference in New York Wednesday, Facebook unveiled a new business page template which resembles the Timeline pages now rolling out to all Facebook users and announced new Premium on Facebook services which make it possible for advertisers to squeeze ads into users’ news feeds and onto their smartphones. This new ad push comes as Facebook knits up the last pieces of its upcoming initial public stock offering–an IPO which may rewrite Wall Street history.

For example, if you “like” the Facebook page for Kia Motors, which already uses the new template, and the car maker has signed up for Premium on Facebook, you may start seeing Kia ads in your news feed when accessed on your PC or phone. Those who haven’t clicked “like” may see the ads on the extreme right side of their PC’s web browsers–if at all–but wouldn’t receive its phone ads or see the ads in their news feeds.

The new Timeline-styled business pages have room for a large cover photo and a company logo and a small area is set aside for basic information like phone numbers, web sites and addresses. Part of the page can be used for apps and important posts can be “pinned” so that they remain near the top. A new “Offers” page allows users to redeem special discounts via e-mail or on their mobile devices.

A new administration utility provides a single page from which business page owners can monitor posts and “likes” from users, view a graph measuring the public reach of the page and get tips from Facebook on how to better manage the page. Included on this new administration page is a brand-new private messaging feature which lets users communicate directly with the page manager instead of posting questions, complaints or other personal input into public posts.

“We think this is great for customer service,” said Facebook Product Manager Jeff Kanter during the marketing event at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. “We heard from a lot of folks that this was something that was needed.”

Many major brands have already switched to the Timeline design, but all Facebook business pages, including the Black Enterprise page, will automatically switch to the new design on March 30.