In a first, celebrity gossip magazine US Weekly has accepted a sponsorship to their Facebook Fan Page. State Farm can now be seen as the official sponsor to US Weekly's presence on Facebook. It's a powerful message to the rest of the industry: social network advertising is ready for prime time.
The State Farm presence is rather small, in the form of a banner on the Fan Page, hinting at a cautious entrance into the Facebook advertising arena. Furthermore, the links clicked on the Fan Page take you to the US Weekly site, where there is no State Farm advertising to be found. However, the most important part is covered - the status updates. When a user gets an update from US Weekly, the link leads to Facebook-framed page, with a banner linked to more US Weekly content, prominently branded by State Farm.
The key here is that the banner leads to more content sponsored by State Farm, not just the State Farm website. This is important to Facebook users. The content they receive (in this case, a video) is a reward for being a fan. It appears that State Farm has managed to break that elusive barrier of advertising within a social network without intruding.
Of course, the success of the campaign for State Farm will rely on the success of the Page. To that end, US Weekly has customized content - tabs for video, Twitter updates, news updates and more -- again, adding value for the user.
It's important to note that US Weekly is not receiving direct compensation for this sponsorship. They already have an advertising deal with State Farm, and the Facebook Page is an added bonus. But the willingness of a major company to advertise on another company's Facebook Page is an encouraging sign. Expect others to follow suit, while paying for the advertisements.
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