Seeing Stars: Facebook Experiments with Star Ratings for Local Business Ads

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Taking a leaf out of Yelp and Netflix’s (and a ton of other websites’) playbook, Facebook has started employing review stars in business ads. It’s still a rather small-scale experiment, where the stars only pop up in a small percentage of select ads. The social media giant plans to run the test for two months, but advertisers are free to opt-out of it should they choose to.

The Ratings Game

Web marketer Phillip Barnhart received a letter from Facebook regarding the experiment, which he shared online. The letter informed Barnhart that his FB page was among numerous business ads chosen to participate in the beta test for business ratings. The test’s purpose was to determine whether displaying ratings increased conversions from ads.

Scheduled to run from April 24 to June 24, 2017, the rating display along with test reviews will appear below business names in ads across Facebook’s Newsfeed. “Star ratings will only appear when the average star rating is 4 stars or higher and when there are at least 5 reviews,” the letter stated.

The chosen participants can tweak “Star Rating Experiment” settings for the beta test, and it is only available on Facebook’s desktop site.

Wisdom (and Revenue) in Online Reviews

Advertisers (both paid and organic) have long known that star ratings dramatically improve clickthrough rate (CTR). The beta test Facebook is conducting comes as little surprise, especially considering the volume of ads it now displays on its Newsfeed.

Digital marketing blogs agree that this strategy is a logical step for social media sites reliant on ads. In a survey by software company ReviewTrackers, one of the key findings indicated 67% of consumers believed in the importance of online reviews when choosing local businesses.

Many FB users haven’t seen this change implemented widely so far, including targeted ads. Users do presume that the visibility of star ratings will increase as tests detect an increase in CTRs.

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