The social network says it will slash its ad formats.

Facebook Inc. has 27 different types of ads. And it says that its wide-ranging ad formats have confused marketers. The social network plans to simplify its advertising formats by eliminating ad types that overlap in how they look and how advertisers use them, as well as removing underperforming ad units.  The social network says it will complete the process by the fall.

“Over the past year, we have been gathering feedback from marketers about our ads products,” wrote Fidji Simo, Facebook product marketing manager, in a blog post. “One point we heard loud and clear is that we need to simplify our product offerings. As the services we provide to marketers have grown, so have our new products; while each product may be good on its own, we realized that many of them accomplish the same goals.”

For instance, Facebook will eliminate its Questions ad unit—it enabled an advertiser to pose a question to users—because marketers can ask a question in a Facebook post and get answers in comments.

It is also combining what it calls the “best of” Sponsored Stories in all its ad formats. Sponsored Stories are messages originally posted from a consumer’s friends about their interactions with a retailer’s page, Facebook application or event that a marketer can pay to promote. The social network says that it will add social context—which shows a user how his friends have interacted with a brand—in various ad formats, such as Page Post Photo Ads, which are ads a marketer can buy to ensure a certain percentage of consumers see a photo a brand posted to its Facebook page. Facebook wants to boost engagement with the ads and eliminate the need to buy multiple ads to ensure consumers see both the promoted photo and which of their friends are connected to the brand, wrote Simo.

Facebook says it is also eliminating its Offers product, which enabled marketers to offer users discounts that users could claim with a click. The social network says that marketers have found that using a Page Post Link Ad—it lets a marketer pay to ensure a percentage of consumers see a link it posted on its page in their news feeds—is a more effective way to drive people to deals on their web sites. That change will take effect by July, Facebook says.


The moves will make Facebook advertising more precise, said Mike Fox, Facebook director of global vertical marketing, today at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition’s post-conference Social Commerce Workshop in Chicago. “My parents won’t be hit by ads for PlayStation when it releases new system, but heavy gamers will,” he said.