Facebook launches eighth ad unit, designed by Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett Worldwide has created an interactive ad unit for Facebook that will allow brands to initiate conversations with consumers by posting photos, videos, links and status updates onto the social network.

Consumer responses to each post will be displayed as “Sponsored Stories” ads on the right-hand side of the walls of users’ friends.

Leo Burnett submitted the unit to Facebook during the social network’s 2010 Ad Expo about a year ago, said Elisabeth Diana, manager of corporate communications at Facebook. The assignment Facebook gave to participating agencies was to create an ad unit that is inherently social, she said, adding that firms submitted more than 100 ideas. Diana declined to reveal the other agencies involved in the competition.

The “comment” ad unit is the eighth unit available on Facebook. Others involve actions on the social network, such as “likes” and video.

“We’re moving to ad units that generate more stories and spark conversations,” said Diana. “We liked ‘comment’ because it allowed an advertiser to spark a conversation among consumers and link to page posts that an advertiser posts on its page.”

Although she said the unit will not likely enable data collection, she believes it can serve as a digital focus group or a way for fans to provide product feedback.

Leo Burnett clients will have 60 days of exclusive use of the unit. Agency clients using the feature include Allstate Insurance Co., Buick, Hallmark Cards, Samsung and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The ad unit was unveiled June 22 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity during a Facebook seminar.

Diana said the collaboration with Leo Burnett is a reflection of Facebook’s “on-going collaboration with agencies.”

“They’re close to their clients and know what their clients’ needs are,” she said. “We help agencies understand the platform and they come up with innovations.”

Facebook launched its Studio platform in April. It gives agencies a place to display Facebook campaign creative and monitor how competitors and agencies are using fan pages and apps to reach audiences.  

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