Monday, November 12, 2007

Facebook's new ad plan and what about the members?

Last week Facebook announced its new ad-plan that would allow members to become 'fans' of companies and brands. If I understand the system correctly, when your friends become 'fans' of a brand, that will show up in your news feed. If they then post a comment or join the brand's page, that would show up in the news feed as well. Advertisers would then have the ability to attach an ad alongside that user notification.

"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:, ,

Email Me


Codec said...

100% agree. I'm a recent graduate from NYU and have been a long time FB user. Once this network launches I'm outta there. Anyway, I just wanted to share a post with you on the over hype of FB new network.


Also here is a follow up post on why I believe OpenSocial's micro-community strategy will work better:


-Seni Thomas

Harry Joiner said...

"Where is the clear benefit to Facebook's members?" There isn't one. People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.


Anonymous said...

Mack, I completely agree with you.

I read the announcement about Facebook’s Social Ads and thought "What are you thinking Mark Z? Did you ask your audience what they think about this? I know you asked your advertisers because they’re desperate to get real value out of the money they’re spending. (Full disclosure: Crimson posts ads on Facebook). I know you asked yourself how you can get more advertising revenue from your asset of 52 million members. But something is missing in this logic, and that’s value to the member."

I’d like to help address the question of: “Why would a member willingly help promote an advertiser?”.

Well, I can think of four reasons, and I recommend that the advertisers who want to take advantage of social ads design their ads around these concepts:

1) Compensate members who forward ads. For example, “Earn Facebook points”,

2) Share the ad to help my friend. For example, “Here’s a job listing I thought you’d like”,

3) Share the ad to entertain. For example, “This is really funny, watch this”,

4) Share the ad to do some social good. For example, “Visit and donate rice to the needy”.

To make this work, you have to provide value to your users. I sincerely hope that is a key part of Facebook's plan.