Facebook Tests New Layout – Fixed Position Ads & Navigation

It’s been more than 16 months since Facebook’s last interface overhaul, but we could certainly see an update sooner than later. Facebook is currently testing a new design that organizes content for the user – the biggest change being a real-time feed called “Most Recent”, which is located in the right sidebar where Upcoming Events is presently displayed. The interesting part is that ads will be fixed positioned in the sidebar.

From Facebook’s perspective, this design change will be used to keep people on Facebook longer, as well as drawing in users that may have logged in simply to check notifications, having their page updated with fresh content appearing above the fold.

The Facebook Design Breakdown

Facebook Scrollable News Feed - Marketaire.com

For those who may not be familiar with fixed positioning, when you scroll down a webpage but some element, whether it’s a picture, widget, or whatever else stays in place – that’s fixed positioning. This is what Facebook is testing with their side and top bars.

The idea is to organize content in a way where things are easily accessible. You’ll be able to scroll down your news feed, but things like navigation, applications, and, of course, ads will always be visible.

Facebook is not only testing the fixed positioning elements of the site, but they’re also testing what was previously known as “Happening Now”, currently being tested under the title “Most Recent.” Most Recent is a news stream similar to the existing stream we all know and love, but the new stream is focused on real-time activities, such as friends Liking new content or Pages, friends adding new friends, and so on.

Facebook - Happening Now News Stream Feed - Marketaire.com

New Facebook Design Impact

Advertising: Given the fixed column positioning, ads will be displayed longer per impression, ultimately adding CPM value. You will get much more brand exposure and can estimate the CTR to improve, as well. The downside will be the competitive nature for placement – you will pay more due to an increase in competition. It will be interesting to see if Facebook assigns a scoring system equivalent to Google’s Quality Score to ads. Or if they can further segment users so big brands don’t control the market.

Business Pages: Because the Most Recent feed displays user actions, if someone Likes your page you will have extended exposure due to the Most Recent stream shown above the fold. This will drastically improve the chances of others catching a glimpse of your Page and potentially checking it out for themselves. As statistics have shown, Pages with over one million fans only receive 2.79 daily unique impressions to their news feed per 100 fans. We could see a drastic improvement here.

Users: Navigation and bookmarks will be easily accessible; however ads will be displayed continually. On the brightside, you will have your ‘actions’ feed (Most Recent) and your ‘conversation’ feed, which will display a mixture of results based on chronology and popularity, as it does presently.

Benefits for Facebook

The impressions of ads will remain roughly the same; however the click-through-rate is likely to increase, adding much more value to ad positions. Of course, as CPM bidding increases, CPC bidders will spend more. Sure, Facebook users seem to hate change, but very few can remember what the old layout was even like, or how far Facebook has come. Watching The Social Network doesn’t count.

Facebook - Zuckerberg Profile 2004 - Social Network - Marketaire.com

Don’t be afraid, this new test version is only available to a very small sample of the Facebook population. As far as progression goes, the new layout looks like a fantastic improvement to the existing interface. From a business perspective, this should drastically improve ad click-through rates, increase ad spending and therefore improve Facebook’s revenues overall.

With benefits across the board, a scrollable news feed could be the big change that Facebook needs to ascend to the next level in its social advertising evolution.

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