Facebook will bring advertising to a new level in January: Sponsored stories will go right in everyone’s News Feed.
Sponsored stories were launched earlier this year, giving advertisers the option to highlight users’ natural brand engagements in the right column of Facebook pages, where other advertisements also reside.
Say a friend of yours checked-in at Starbucks. The coffeehouse chain has an option to let you know, thus associating your friend with its own brand. These are seen as less of an advertisement, since brands aren’t allowed to pen any marketing gimmicks on top of your friend’s comments.
So sponsored stories in the News Feed shouldn’t be as intrusive as it sounds. You may not even notice, since they’re marked as “Sponsored” at the bottom of the item, next to the time stamp. Also, Facebook promises to feature only one sponsored story per day.
There isn’t any official way to opt out of these stories, but you can hide them individually, like you can a friend’s status update. Chances are there will be third party userscripts or browser plugins to hide them, but I personally don’t see the need for them.
Here’s a screen shot of a sponsored story in a News Feed, via TechCrunch: