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Preview sponsored stories with the Action Spec Preview Tool

Gokhan Caglar
May 10, 2012

Today we're launching the action spec preview tool to make it easier for you to preview sponsored stories. Sponsored stories are stories that are prominently displayed to fans and their friends on the right-hand-side of any page or in news feed. Sponsored stories are a great way to increase the visibility of news feed stories that relate to your business and to drive engagement. The preview tool will now allow you to use the action spec to see how stories from your page or app will appear when sponsored. The action spec allows you to create sponsored stories, target audiences and measure actions using Graph actions. The action spec preview tool provides a simple way to visualize any story defined by an action spec as a sponsored story.

Two methods to preview sponsored stories with action spec preview tool

Using the drop down menu: Use the drop down menu to preview recent stories from your news feed or Page(s) you manage or like. The preview tool will display how sponsored stories will be seen by users in the news feed and right hand side of any page on Facebook. For Open Graph actions, the tool will also display the various selectors (action type and properties of the object) associated with the action spec to enable you to experiment with different combinations and specify the exact action spec you are interested in using.

Using the action spec: A more powerful method is to enter a specific action spec for any story on the Graph that you would like to preview. In addition to displaying how sponsored stories will be presented and the various selectors associated with the action spec, the tool will also provide the approximate number of actions, actors and actor’s friends within the last week that match the spec.

Discovering and visualizing stories from your timeline

A great way to familiarize yourself with the action spec preview tool is by previewing all recent stories from your timeline. For example, let’s say that you recently listened to Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson on Rdio, and a story was generated on your timeline. Once you select your timeline in the dropdown menu of the preview tool, the tool will display that story as a sponsored story in the right hand side or in the news feed.

Right Hand Side Version

News Feed Version

Experimenting with selectors

The action spec preview tool displays the various selectors (action type and properties of the object) associated with the action spec, which enables you to create different types of stories. Continuing with the example from above, the preview tool displays the various selectors associated with the story about you listening to the song Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson on Rdio, such as album, song.musician or application. To view stories about users listening to songs by Michael Jackson, click on the song.musician link and, the Tool will display the action spec and a sample of real stories that match the spec.

{"action.type":"music.listens","song.musician":"http://www.rdio.com/artist/Michael_Jackson/"}

In addition to the action spec preview tool, we also launched the ad preview API for previewing ads for existing ad groups, ad creatives and creative specifications. You can read more about the ad preview API at viewing ad previews.

In summary, the action spec preview tool helps you discover and visualize stories to sponsor, size the opportunity for a story, and discover alternate action specs all within a simple, visual interface. This visual workflow should help any developer or advertiser understand how to take advantage of available sponsored stories inventory. To start creating your own sponsored stories, go to: https://www.facebook.com/ads/manage/adscreator/. Or if you are a API developer, go to: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/ads-api/creative-specs/#action_specs_Sponsored_stories

Gokhan is a software engineer at Facebook working on Ads API. He will be sponsoring likes of this blog post with the Action Spec:

{action.type: 'like', object: 'https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2012/05/10/preview-sponsored-stories-with-the-action-spec-preview-tool/'}

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