Facebook ‘Year in Review’ includes key feature advertisers may envy

Facebook this week launched a Year in Review page for users to see their memorable posts and events from 2012. It’s a fun experience for users, but one aspect of the project might be especially interesting for marketers and advertisers.

When users share their Year in Review with friends, their post appears in News Feed with a prominent image and short description of the feature. The difference with this post and others on the social network is that the image links directly to another page. This new format is something businesses would benefit from if brought to their page posts in the future. Currently they have to make trade-offs when posting images and links.

For instance, with other photo posts on Facebook, clicking on the image brings up a larger version of the photo within a lightbox view. If a person or page wants to post a full-size photo, but also send viewers to a particular destination, they can include a hyperlink within the photo caption. However, users are less likely to notice and click on this small line of text.

If getting users to another site or area of Facebook is a priority, pages will often make a link post. Photos are only thumbnail size, but users can click the image or anywhere on the link’s details to navigate to the destination.

This structure forces page owners and advertisers to make trade-offs. Do they want to catch users’ eyes with a large photo but risk having a link buried in the caption, or do they want to optimize for link clicks, even though the post’s visuals won’t be as compelling?

For Facebook’s Year in Review app, it didn’t have to choose. The image was big enough to tell a compelling story and get attention in the feed, while also serving as larger target for clickthroughs to the desired page. It ends up functioning more like a traditional banner unit, and advertisers would be happy to see this format applied to their own posts and ads in the feed so they could drive more traffic to their page, app or website.

As Facebook seeks opportunities to make its platform more valuable for advertisers, while also improving user experience, it is likely looking at new page post formats. For instance, there was the Collections test in October, and we’ve seen the company testing a version of Facebook Questions that lets page owners attach images to a poll. Offers were a new post type introduced this year. That option now requires page owners to spend a minimum of $5 per offer, and we can imagine Facebook charging a premium for future post types that may be more interactive.

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