Facebook's contextual ads, Sponsored Stories, are seeing higher CTRs than standard ads, and content marketers should take this as a sign that relevancy is vital to catching clicks. A TBG Digital report relayed by New Media Age indicates that Sponsored Stories see 46 percent higher click-through rates than other advertisements on the social site.
Sponsored Stories turn friends' activity into ads. The ad unit was released at the beginning of 2011, and it seems to be paying off for early adopters – a sign that social recommendations carry weight on the web.
TBG Digital studied 2 billion ad impressions over the course of 10 days. It found that the social context of Sponsored Stories resulted in 46 percent higher CTRs than other ads, driving costs-per-click down 20 percent.
The source quotes Simon Mansell, CEO of TBG Digital, as saying, “Clearly, seeing your friend's profile or picture next to an ad has a benefit for brands.”
Notably, Facebook has recently provided marketers with new ways to use Sponsored Stories to connect with social users. The company expanded its Sponsored Stories to generate ads related to users' Likes for posts on brands' Pages, app usage and Like activity on third-party sites.
The popularity of these ads speaks to the rise of social recommendations, which are now part of the search experience, as well. With the rise of Bing Like data and Google +1-enhanced results, marketers must create optimized content that will act as Like-bait to catch organic clicks.