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Facebook amps up features for advertisers

At first-ever Facebook marketing conference, the social network announces three features--Offers, Reach Generator, and Premium on Facebook--to help marketers better connect their brands with customers.

Blake Robinson
Blake Robinson got his start in tech as a semi-professional gamer. He was the first Managing Editor of CrunchGear, the former gadgets and electronics arm of TechCrunch. His writings on new and emerging technologies have been featured in ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, TechCrunch, Silicon Alley Insider, paidContent, Uncrate, Conde Nast and Ziff Davis. Blake splits his time between San Francisco and New York.
Blake Robinson
2 min read
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg takes the stage today at the first-ever fMC (Facebook Marketing Conference) at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Blake Robinson/CNET

NEW YORK--Facebook is on a tear ahead of its IPO. Today here at fMC, its first-ever marketing conference, it announced a number of features to help brands better engage with their audiences.

The social network hopes to drive advertisers away from broadcasting static messages, instead encouraging them to build dynamic conversational marketing pieces. While conversational media isn't exactly a new concept (companies like Federated Media have been doing it for years), the scale and personality that Facebook adds is unprecedented.

The goal as planned is for brands to be perceived as people who engage in meaningful dialogs. While many companies have developed active social media channels in recent years, few have managed to re-create the feel of a friendly neighborhood shop.

For Facebook, this all starts with a new type post called Offers, that's specific to brands' Pages with Timeline. Like events on a personal Facebook Timeline, Offers will allow brands to drum up attention behind the products they sell.

Users clicking through an Offer could prove to be a strong source of monetization for companies. Facebook won't charge for Offers at the outset, and it will be free to all brands that put it to use.

Brands wishing to elevate content beyond their pages can utilize two new advertising features called "Premium on Facebook" and "Reach Generator." The premium functionality, rumored last week, aims to lift brands through a number of new ad placements. One of the biggest new ad spaces will be the Facebook log-out page, which, according to Mike Hoefflinger, director of global business marketing at Facebook, sees 37 million unique log-outs daily.

Reach Generator potentially has the most far-reaching implications of anything announced today. Brands will be able to use it to scale distribution and engagement of its content across Facebook. This means that if you like a brand on Facebook, you're likely to soon start seeing more of its content in both your desktop and mobile news feeds.

Facebook was quick to point out that all content in user news feeds will remain organic, so only brands with which you engage will have an opportunity to appear. If you haven't engaged, however, those brands will still have the opportunity to draw your eyes with traditional ad units.

That said, it does seem that Facebook is trying carefully to preserve the personal experiences that made it the world's largest social network. But as Facebook moves toward its IPO and beyond, it will be looking to streamline all earnings initiatives. As it nears 1 billion users, creating meaningful connections between brands and people is the most logical place for it to focus monetization efforts.

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg put it, "Even dogs can now have real identities on the Internet." And where there are attentive eyes, there are attentive marketers.