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Facebook Launches Mobile Ads and ‘Friends’ Marketers with New Tools

Wednesday, 29 Feb 2012 | 2:23 PM ET
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Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
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Despite rain and wind, over a thousand people turned out for Facebook's first event for marketers. Over 1,000 people packed into the theater at the Natural History Museum on Manhattan's Upper West Side to hear COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Representatives from all the major advertising agencies, plus the likes of Unilever and Nissan all turned out to hear about the new tools Facebookis launching for brands to better connect with consumers.

One big headline: for the first time marketing messages will be delivered to mobile users, as part of news feeds. This is a huge step for Facebook to market to the hundreds of millions of users who use the platform on mobile devices, to generate new revenue as it heads to its IPO.

Sandberg kicked off the event by talking about how the company aims to make marketing truly social, rather than just shifting traditional marketing messages online. Sandberg says Facebook wants to help marketers do "less shouting and more engaging," and "less talking at customers and more listening to them."

What that means, is the Facebook is making brands pages more like individual users pages —allowing them to post bigger photos, longer stories, and to engage privately with fans. And perhaps most importantly, the new pages will allow brands to highlight how users friends are interacting with that brand. Social context makes brands more appealing to consumers, which should encourage brands to spend more to direct consumers to their pages.

Mike Hoefflinger, Director of Global Business Marketing called Facebook's redesign of pages"the richest marketing canvas for marketers." Hoefflinger unveiled "offers" — allowing brands to offer "one-click easy" deals to customers from brand pages. Customers can claim offers, and share that news with their friends.

Another new product called "Reach Generator" allows brands to make sure that fans see their stories, aka marketing messages. Now it's allowing brands to put stories right into users' news feed, including *mobile* news feeds. Another new place for ads: the logout page. Facebook says it's found that fans are twice as valuable to brands as the general public, citing the example of Ben & Jerry's, which used this engagement to drive sales. And all these new ads are designed to transition marketers from "ads" to "stories" that users will want to share with their friends.

Facebook is bringing some of its big marketers on stage. Facebook's VP of Advertising David Fisher is hosting a panel with Stephen Quinn, Wal-Mart's Chief Marketing Officer, Chris McCann, President of 1-800-Flowers.com , and CEO of Aegis Media Americas, to discuss using social technology "to drive business results." After a series of breakout sessions the final event of the day is a "fireside chat," with Sandberg and American Express CEO Ken Chenault, about "operating in the social era."

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.