Facebook Advertising announcement – a few first thoughts…

November 7, 2007 at 11:24 am 5 comments

Where to begin – the idea of Social Ads is a really interesting announcement by Facebook.  I guess Zuckerberg is as big a fan (or bigger) than me of the notion of Word of Mouth as the power tool in driving influence in the marketplace.  It’s been no big secret something significant was in the works to attempt to monetize the network effect and relationships across Facebook.  From a business, social and personal standpoint this is going to be really fascinating to watch.  Will it work?  I think it will, but there is a lot here to consider – here are some random thoughts about this as first impressions:

  • The Social Graph – without re-debating the concept, what is interesting to me about the social graph is researching the meta-data associated with the relationships between people in a network.  Add to that, mapping out a persona model in the network to identify conversation starters, stoppers, branchers, trolls, accelerators, inactives, etc.  Instantiating social ads on top of the network will be a very interesting way to study this meta-data and further develop the concept of social network personas.  From a business and academic standpoint this would greatly enlighten the approach to defining and executing on influencer programs.
  • Influencer effect – If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know I’m a strong advocate of the importance of influencer participation in innovation and brand advocacy.  Next week, I’ll be talking more about this at the WOMMA Summit in Vegas and co-chairing a WOMMA council focused on Influencers.  I’m a strong believer that real influencers are peer users, vs the spokesperson model.  Celebrities and athletes can drive brand awareness, but they don’t necessarily lead to brand purchase.  You see this transformation already taking place in the media.  Apple’s recent man on the street advertising is a great example of this.  And perhaps the mother of big endorsement deal makers, Nike, recently announced changes focused on adding more “authentic” influencers.
  • Privacy – This is the potential deal breaker here.  How much are people willing to share about buying behaviors for use as “food” for social ads.  Do I really want people to know what I’m buying.  Some things I research a lot before I buy and I would feel good about sharing the decision – other things I don’t and wouldn’t want to be seen endorsing.  Take the Travelocity example in the announcement.  Get real, I’m not endorsing Travelocity when I book a trip – I shop the big 3 online services and buy the cheapest.  Worse yet, maybe I don’t want everyone in my network to know I’m traveling!  Hey everyone, my house is empty!!  This will be great someday when I have teenagers and all their friends figure out when I’m out of town – party time!
  • Friend taxonomy – I blogged on this before and it relates heavily to the issue of privacy.  The fact that today all Facebook friends in my network are treated equally by the network is a usability issue I want solved.  The arrival of social ads makes resolving this even more important to me as a user.  I’m less likely to approve of using my data until I have greater control of my network. 
  • Influencer, stalker, voyeur – I couldn’t help but having this thought in a world where so much data is moving around about not just my network, but my patterns and behaviors.  Is this about the influencer effect or enabling digital stalking / voyeurism.  It just felt a little dirty.  That said, I have to admit I am interested in what my network is buying!!  I do want to know and I feel very certain that knowing what my network is buying will drive my buying patters.  Ack – personal conflict – let’s see how this plays out.
  • Personal Brand – As a blogger, tweeter, social bookmarker, facebook-er, linkedin-er user, etc, etc, etc…I can’t help but be a little focused on thinking about managing my personal brand online.  I’m not sure I want to dilute (or disrupt) my personal brand with advertising in this way or create implied affiliations with a brand.  This inherently feels like risk vs reward.

Ok, so there’s a first take.  Now I need to go read what others are saying.



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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Josh Holmes  |  November 7, 2007 at 11:54 am

    I agree with you 100%. The question is going to be how does this shake out in any type of revenue sharing model. If you look at Amazon, they have a great revenue sharing model if you promote them. I’m wondering if that will start to effect who we are friends with and our online activities…

  • 2. Glenn Gow  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Sean, I have a slightly different take on this …

    I’ve read the announcement about Facebook’s Social Ads. 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 http://www.freerice.com 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.

  • 3. Sean ODriscoll  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Great point. #1 scares me as compensation in the model (while fair) eliminates any hope for a system that is merit based vs reward or incentive based. I have to think on this more – my aspiration on this is likely far to polyanna to be realistic given the business motivations of both the platform provider and the advertisers.

    At any rate, you are of course right – as a user, how will this benefit me is a central question to be answered.

    thanks for the comment.

  • 4. Ryan  |  November 7, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    As both a heavy FB user, and as one with 1st hand knowledge of how this thing will work (as Prod. Mgr for the integration with Blockbuster), I don’t see this as being terribly different from the current Newsfeed / Minifeed.

    Example: If I am logged in to Facebook and add a movie to my Blockbuster queue, it will say “Ryan added Top Gun to his Queue on Blockbuster.com.” I can set it up so that FB sometimes, always, or never publishes my events. If the event is published, it may or may not contain a brief call to action after the event. The soft sell is to just link portions of the social event (i.e. blockbuster.com or the movie title). The ad portion would be to sign up for a free trial. The social ads in our case don’t look all that different from newsfeed events which list your friends’ actions (and just think about how much advertising there already is with apps hawking their quizzes and comparisons…).

    Everyone is trying to predict how users will react to this. In our case I don’t see our events straying very far from what people are already seeing on their news feeds. I can’t speak for the other ad partners. But however the reaction plays out over time, the nice thing about the web is the speed with which you can experiment and learn from your successes and failures.

  • 5. Connie Bensen  |  November 9, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    I saw this linked in the Womma newsletter.
    I blogged about Groups vs Pages with some questions too.

    It will be interesting to watch things develop.


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