Facebook to Simplify and Consolidate Its Ad Options

Facebook's new plans for advertising, Twitter's Vine app for Android, the value of geo-targeted tweets and more social-media news.

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By Brian Patrick Eha

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This week's need-to-know social-media news.

Facebook is dramatically scaling back the number of advertising options it offers to marketers. The social network plans to cut more than half of the 27 ad formats it currently offers and to combine the various types of sponsored stories -- ads that appear in a user's News Feed and resemble normal posts -- into a single kind of ad.

Facebook is also doing away with the ecommerce aspect of Facebook Offers, a means for businesses to share discounts and other special deals with customers. In the future, businesses will only be able to advertise in-store deals, not promotions that would lead users away from Facebook to an online store.

These changes will be rolling out over the next six months, Facebook says. Once they do, advertisers will first be asked what purpose they want their ad to serve, rather than being confronted with a bewildering array of ad formats. "You are going to pick an objective. Based on that, we will show you a range of formats," said Fidji Simo, Facebook's product manager for ads. The goal, Facebook says, is to eliminate redundancies among its ad options and to make it easier for small- and medium-size businesses to advertise on its platform. -- The New York Times

Twitter releases Vine for Android.
Since Vine was created in January, the six-second looping video tool has only been available to iOS users. Starting this week, Android users can also download the popular app, which includes features such as a zoom function that isn't available in the iOS version. Twitter plans to continue updating the app with new features, such as a front-facing camera option and the ability to post Vines to Facebook. The company also has "exciting plans" for features that will be unique to the Android platform, Sara Haider, an Android engineer at Twitter, wrote in the announcement. -- SocialTimes

Geo-targeted tweets may be better than search at driving sales.
When it comes to customers discovering your brand, at least one company thinks Twitter can be more useful than search engines. Andy Murray, a search marketing manager for tech giant Lenovo, says geo-targeted Twitter ads "can outperform search" when it comes to getting customers. A new Twitter case study details how Lenovo U.K. used two Twitter ad types -- Promoted Accounts, to gain more followers, and Promoted Tweets, to increase visibility -- to drive engagement and sales during a large consumer trade show. The strategy led to $27,000 in revenue from tweets, 2,576 new followers for @lenovo_uk and an almost 700 percent increase in mentions of the Lenovo brand. As Twitter continues to supercharge its ad efforts, Murray's ringing endorsement is a sign of just how competitive Twitter might be. -- VentureBeat

Pinterest adds search to pinboards.
Pinterest has added a long-overdue feature: the ability for users to search their own pinboards. Previously, a user had to scroll through what might be hundreds of pins to find, say, that one pair of pants he or she had bookmarked for purchase. Now users can do keyword searches to find them without scanning an entire pinboard. The feature is now available on the web app and will be coming to the mobile version soon. -- AllThingsD

With 'mayor vs. bear' tweets, a Connecticut mayor scores a viral hit.
Mayor Mark Boughton spotted a black bear in a tree in his town of Danbury, Conn., and decided to live tweet what happened. His series of pun-filled tweets -- "Please 'bear' with us as we work on the situation," read one -- went viral. Boughton is known locally for his odd, casual Twitter style. "Hey peeps, water main break on Well Ave," he began a recent public service announcement. Business owners could take a lesson from Boughton's Twitter personality to learn how to be more relatable -- and funny -- on social media. -- 10,000 Words

Brian Patrick Eha

Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Entrepreneur.com. He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.

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