Facebook: Is it an Ad or News from Friend
Facebook isn't a news source, it is a social networking tool and it is debatable on how differentiated advertisements need to be from the user generated content. Facebook is a multimedia tool with video and music but the majority of its content is text. If the company employed journalistic Editors there would be a big wall separating the business side from the editorial side. The business side would push for anything that made the ad more effective and the editorial side would push back to insure editorial integrity by completely differentiating advertising from content. Most Editors take this very seriously and don't want there to be a hint of conflict of interest.
Above is a screen shot of the news feed I receive from my friends on my Facebook account. The Army ad I circled is troublesome. It does not look different at all from the messages that I get from my friends which is accented by the fact that its from a very controversial advertiser. Should social web sites be held to editorial standards? Advertisers and media are still searching for the holy grail of online advertising aside from the crack cocaine of paid search text links. I wonder how effective this type of integrated advertising is and whether it costs more than a straight banner buy. To be fair there is a small, light grey "sponsored" tag adjacent to the header but my eyes passed right over it.
While philosophically the Army is an emotionally charged advertiser, it's also one with deep pockets and good agencies that make great ads. Advertising agency creative departments want to create good content to develop an intimate relationship with the consumer. The above ad has a video which is ultimately much more interesting than a banner ad so while I think its probably an effective sponsorship opportunity, I wonder if it's ethical.