Facebook tests ads in Marketplace, its Craigslist-like shopping section

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Newspapers reaped a lot of revenue from their classified sections. Then Craigslist killed that business. Then Facebook cloned Craigslist. Now the company is ready to see if it can reap some revenue from its classified section.

Facebook will start testing ads within the Craigslist-like Marketplace section it introduced last year, the company announced on Friday.

“We are starting a small test that shows ads to a small percentage of people using Marketplace in the US and will evaluate the response before determining how we move forward,” Facebook product marketing manager Michelle Bonner Techel said in an emailed statement.

During the test, Facebook will take the retail variety of its dynamic ads that brands use to retarget online shoppers and slot them among the items that are listed for sale by regular people on Facebook, like clothes, toys, sports equipment, apartments and jobs. In May, people in the US posted 18 million items for sale within Marketplace, according to a Facebook spokesperson.

These ads will look similar to Marketplace’s square-shaped organic listings. They will feature the image of a single product pulled from the product catalogs that participating advertisers have uploaded to Facebook and will carry the advertiser’s name and a “Sponsored” label, according to the spokesperson.

Facebook will only show the ads after people scroll down on the main Marketplace feed (“below the fold” in newspaper parlance) and will not show ads on any of the category-specific feeds within Marketplace, the spokesperson said. Clicking on the ad will open the corresponding product page on the advertiser’s site.

During the test, Facebook is working with a small number of brands that have large product catalogs and will not charge the brands when their ads are placed within Marketplace, the spokesperson said. The ads will be targeted the same way as when they’re placed in the normal Facebook news feed or run on Instagram.

In other words, the test is simply an extension of advertisers’ campaigns to a new space and serves as the latest example of how Facebook is addressing the ad load pressure in people’s Facebook feeds.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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