Facebook, the world’s largest social media website, is testing a new feature that offers you popular pages in your area. The feature was first reported in Search Engine Watch. According to the article the new feature will sit in the right hand column of the desktop version of Facebook, just under trending topics. At the moment most people have a Recommended Pages section in this area.
It would appear that the choice of pages offered is based on total number of likes for a page and also whether your friends have also liked or checked in with the page. SO what would be the purpose of introducing this feature? There are probably two possible reasons to introduce this. The first one would be to eventually sell advertising in these slots. The ads would be for local businesses and could use a variety of targeting methods to trigger the ad such as location, interests and even topics that you have posted about.
However, I think that it is more likely that this is a feature that Facebook is adding to people’s desktop experience to act as a new data point. Every time we like something on Facebook then Facebook learns a little bit more about us and the more they know about us the more targeted the advertising that they can push towards us.
Being able to offer targeted advertising is key to Facebook survival. Lots of people complain about ads on Facebook but one of the reasons that people complain is that they are receiving ads that are of no relevance to them. This is no good for users, Facebook or advertisers. Advertisers are looking for the most qualified leads so the more data that Facebook can hold the more qualified those leads are likely to be. Further it should also be noted that if Facebook advertising can be shown to have increasing click through rates (CTR) then this means that the cost per click (CPC) is likely to be higher, leading to increased revenues and profits for Facebook.
The reason I think that this feature will not turn into advertising is because of the position on the page that the local ads would have. They would be higher up the page than the main body of ads and consequently are likely to be clicked on more than those lower down the page. National advertisers are likely to be in a position where they can pay more than local advertisers so it would make more sense to for such a prime advertising slot not to be aimed at local advertisers.
It is not known if Popular Pages in Your Area is just a test or is being rolled out to everybody. Keep an eye out for them on your desktop version of Facebook.