Facebook has launched an ad system that enables advertisers, including Coca-Cola and The New York Times, to set up their own profile page as well as place ads into users' news feeds.
Facebook Ads allows businesses to build custom-designed pages on the site, which include photos, videos, music, and applications, such a booking system or ticket purchasing.
Users can then become "fans" of a business and act as a trusted referral by sharing information about the company through its Facebook page. They can add reviews, write on the business's wall or upload photos, depending on what features the company ads to its page.
These actions could then appear in the users' mini-feed and news feed, which their friends will see.
Several major brands, including the Coca-Cola Company, Blockbuster, CBS, Chase, Sony Pictures Television, Verizon, CondeNet, Dove Cream Oils, Herbal Essences and The New York Times, have already committed to using Facebook Ads.
Yesterday, more than 100,000 pages created by large brands, local businesses, organisations and bands were launched with the new system.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive, said: "The core of every user's experience on Facebook is their page and that's where businesses are going to start as well... The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see."
The Facebook Ads system also includes what the company calls "social ads" that can appear either within a user's news feed as sponsored content or in the ad space along the left side of the site.
The social ads combine social actions from a user's friend, such as a purchase of a product or review of a restaurant, with an advertiser's message. This enables advertisers to deliver more targeted, relevant ads to users.
In an attempt to maintain privacy, Facebook said users will only see social ads to the extent their friends are sharing information with them.
Zuckerberg said: "Social actions are powerful because they act as trusted referrals and reinforce the fact that people influence people.
"It's no longer just about messages that are broadcasted out by companies, but increasingly about information that is shared between friends. So we set out to use these social actions to build a new kind of ad system."
Another feature of the new system is the ability of businesses to track their presence and promotion on Facebook through a service that collects data on activity, fan demographics and ad performance.
There is also a feature called 'Beacon', which will track purchases that Facebook users make on outside websites, then report those purchases to users' friends on Facebook, if they choose to share this information.
A total of 44 websites have signed up to use Beacon, including eBay.com. By early next year, eBay plans to use Beacon to allow eBay.com sellers to include their eBay listings in their Facebook news feeds.
Zuckerberg said: "Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online. For the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation. And they're going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do."Return to marketing news headlines
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