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The Updated News Feed – and Why It Matters for Advertisers

Published: August 7, 2013

Author: Molly McCarty

It’s been said on the FBPPC blog numerous times, but let me say it again: the Facebook News Feed is arguably the most popular page on the internet. Face it, the News Feed is where you want to be! Constantly striving to improve their product, Facebook has once again made a fundamental change to the algorithm that will more than mildly improve the user experience. Before we get into the implications for advertisers, let’s discuss, in more detail, what is happening.
posts in the newsfeedWhen someone logs into their Facebook page, they are flooded with updates from friends, family, co-workers, etc., all of whom are posting about different content. Although it may seem like a simple process (Facebook simply posts updates in a chronological order with no regard to likelihood that the user will actually care about the content), it is, in fact, a complex process that users and advertisers alike are just beginning to get a feel for. According to Facebook, the average user has approximately 1,500 stories available when he/she logs into his/her page.
Facebook is the first to admit that their “ranking isn’t perfect”, but studies show that they are doing a good job at tailoring the content to the user’s interests.   There are many ways that Facebook determines which posts should be pushed on the News Feed. A few of the key components include: amount of interaction the user has with a particular page or fellow user, the number of social context the post has received overall (likes, comments, etc), the likelihood that the user will interact with the post based on previous interactions, and whether or not the post has been hidden or reported multiple times by other users.
All of this leads to a News Feed tailored just to you, the user! This makes sense. If you think through what is typically found on your News Feed, you may notice that it is updates from people you interact with or major events (these tend to generate the most social context).
Today, however, Facebook announced a change to the algorithm that will make it even more user-friendly!
No longer will the News Feed necessarily be chronological in nature. Instead, posts that

updated news feed
Credit: Facebook

people have not previously seen because they did not scroll down far enough will reappear higher in the feed.  According to Facebook, early data shows an “increase of 5% in the number of likes, comments, and shares on the organic stories people saw from friends and an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories they saw from Pages.”
Other tests show that, “people read 57% of the stories in their News Feeds, on average. They did not scroll far enough down to see the other 43%. When the unread stories were resurfaced, the fraction of stories read increased to 70%.”

Advertising implications

For advertisers, this will only help increase the value in advertising on the News Feeds. Users spending more time on the News Feed are more likely to scroll down further and see sponsored stories in the mix.
Advertisers should note that this change doesn’t affect paid content (for now!), but with relevance becoming more and more rewarded in the algorithm, it may be only a matter of time before heavily engaged ads are feeling the benefits as well. (So get that content sharpened!)
As always, only time will tell how this will truly affect advertising on the News Feed, but I think it is safe to say, this is a step in the right direction!

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