"We are putting advertising back in the hands of people," said Chamath Palihapitiya, VP-product marketing and operations, Facebook. He said it would create a system for user recommendations "so ads are less like ads and more like information and content."
Advertisers are obviously hoping that this model will give them exposure to member's existing networks. They believe that if I become a fan of their company and Facebook broadcasts this via the news feed, that my friends will become fans as well!
Is this likely to happen? The Ad Age piece goes on to add:
Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction, blogged about the announcement and said it was encouraging concept but also posed a "massive challenge in reputation management and just one more destination to deal with in terms of driving the traffic with messaging that shapes opinion." He cautioned that clutter could become impenetrable, that people who share information about brands with friends might not actually like that being co-opted by advertisers; an easy slip up could, of course, broadcast something like a porn purchase to an entire social network.
There needs to be, he wrote, some "smart thinking about how to harvest the eggs without killing the golden goose."
On the surface, it might seem like a silver bullet for advertisers. An easy way to convert Facebook's millions of members into a cyber-endorsement for their brand.
But is that really what's going to happen?
I think not. I think that what's likely to happen is that there is suddenly going to be a lot more marketing-related content/clutter on Facebook. Already I have seen several mentions in my news feed of some of my friends becoming 'fans' of a particular brand. The news feed is a great way to quickly keep up with what my friends are doing. I am interested in which friends are having a birthday this week. Or in the conferences/events they are attending. Or if their martial status changes, or if they change jobs.
But I don't really care if 3 of my friends are now 'fans' of Google. And I definitely don't want to see an ad attached to content that I didn't care about to begin with.
The question I come back to is, 'Where is the clear benefit to Facebook's members?' Where is our silver bullet in this? I don't see it, in fact I think this will dilute the overall Facebook experience.
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing, Facebook