Facebook ads use your face for free

Facebook is rolling out a new type of ad that uses your Likes in ads for Starbucks, Levi's, and Coke. Don't "Like" it? Too bad.

Want to work for Facebook? Seeking fame (if not fortune) in the exciting world of online advertising? You may have already won. 

Yesterday, Facebook introduced a handful of new ad units that combine your “Likes,” Facebook Places check ins, and your use of certain apps with advertisements for things like Starbucks, Coke, Levi’s jeans and Budweiser.

[ See also: What the frak is Quora? ]

In other words, if you happen to click “Like” on the Starbucks page, check into your local faux Italian coffee bar, or use your Starbucks Greek iPhone app, your Facebook avatar could appear in an ad paid for by Starbucks and appearing on your friends’ pages.

Facebook sponsored ads (Inside Facebook)

  (Screenshot via Inside Facebook blog.)

According to the deliciously named Irina Slutsky of AdAge:

…if Starbucks buys a "sponsored story" ad, the status of a user's friends who check into or "like" Starbucks will run twice: once in the user's news feed, and again as a paid ad for Starbucks. Though clearly marked with the words "sponsored story," the ad -- which will includes a user's name, just like the news feed -- is not optional for Facebook users.

Your pay for lending your mugshot and endorsement in the service of mass marketing? Exactly bupkis. Want to opt out? Sorry, no can do. Your only choice is to studiously avoid clicking “Like” or checking into any place that has a six- or seven-figure ad budget.

The good news? The Facebook Places ads will also pick up any text you enter along with your check-in. So if you say “Just checked into the Starbucks around the corner and this doppio mocha latte tastes like goat urine” – that would appear in the ad.

Advertisers can get around that by buying only ads attached to Likes or app use, sans the extra editorial commentary. Still, the temptation to mess with this is almost overwhelming.

Facebook’s marketing team has produced a vague yet strangely soothing video starring attractive Facebook employees explaining how sponsored stories increased “brand lift,” “ad recall,” and the “likeliness to recommend” factor.

(Just swallow the blue pill with the lowercase f on it and everything will be just fine. There, there. That’s better, isn’t it?)

If you were Kim Kardashian or 50 Cent, you could be paid tens of thousands just for tweeting something inane about a product. But if you’re an ordinary Joe or Jane on Facebook, you get nothing for the use of your face. Yet more proof that all those cool features Facebook provides for free, really aren’t.

ITworld TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan’s face has never appeared on any ad, Facebook or otherwise, and that’s a good thing. Experience his juvenile sense of humor at eSarcasm (Geek Humor Gone Wild) or follow him on Twitter:@tynan_on_tech.

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