Why is Facebook advertising in your news feed?

If you’ve scrolled through your news feed recently, you may have done a double take when in the midst of pictures of your friends’ breakfasts and rants about Monday morning traffic you noticed an ad that looked something like this:

Photo from The Facebook Page
Photo from The Facebook Page


Oh, hey there, Facebook, I didn’t know you were one of my Facebook friends. So what’s the deal? Why is Facebook posting seemingly random, nostalgic, somewhat cheesy status updates to all of our news feeds?

Clicking on the ads directs you to the Facebook Facebook page (yes, you read that right), which has 147 million likes. The page’s About sections reads: “The Facebook Page celebrates how our friends inspire us, support us, and help us discover the world when we connect.”

Okay… That’s pretty ambiguous, Facebook. But yes, we get that it’s about connecting with our friends. But why do we need a page to remind us of that?

Well, because Facebook is home to over 1 billion active users, it doesn’t make sense for the company to advertise to entice new users. Even if they were going to do that, they wouldn’t be posting those ads on the news feeds of existing users. So obviously that’s not the point. According to Aaron Sankin of The Daily Dot, the point of this ad campaign is to increase the engagement of folks who are already using Facebook, particularly its myriad services and apps that aren’t necessarily all that popular.

“Getting us to think of Facebook as more than just a place to stalk former romantic partners and watch retirees get into ill-informed political flame wars is crucial to the company’s new strategy. Facebook desperately wants to break up its monolithic mobile experience into a constellation of integrated single-use applications—such as Paper for News Feeds, Messenger for sending messages, Camera for taking pictures, and Poke for ripping off Snapchat.” Aaron Sankin, The Daily Dot

It’s also about helping people figure out Facebook. It might seem like second nature to most of us, but some people just don’t get it.

Photo from Buzzfeed
Photo from Buzzfeed

While some of the ads are simply reminders of how users should be taking advantage of Facebook features, others are simply there to explain features to users who might be unaware of all that Facebook has to offer. For instance, this ad points out the trending news feature in news feed:

facebook ad 1

So there you have it. The ad campaign is a combination of trying to boost engagement of existing users and trying to help people figure out what in the world they’re doing once they create an account.

Still think it’s kind of weird and ambiguous? Join the club.