Facebook has confirmed that in early 2012 users will start seeing sponsored stories in the news feed. A Facebook spokesperson tells us that these sponsored stories, which are essentially ads that a company or organization pays to feature, will roll out slowly. It hopes to show users no more than one clearly labeled sponsored story in the news feed per day.

Facebook recently added sponsored stories to its news ticker, the sometimes-useful though mostly annoying constant stream of news in the upper right-hand corner of the user's homepage.

This new type of advertising is 46% more effective than standard Facebook ads. Like most things on the social Web, the "sponsored stories" ad format takes socially focused content and transforms it into a marketing message. Sponsored stories ride the line between content and advertising, and usually do so with rich photos and engaging questions that make it feel less invasive than traditional advertising.

How do you feel about sponsored stories in the news feed?