Today, Facebook unveiled at New York their new ad platform. There is a great fuzz around this and hundreds of blogs are posting about it. That’s why I wont be talking about the actual system. For those interested in knowing how it works, I encourage you to read Owyang’s summary about it. Instead I’m going to try to analyze how, why and what can be done with the new system.
The social ad platform is structured around two ideas, brand awareness and friend’s trust. Some days ago I was discussing with a friend what this announcement really meant to Google. Would Google’s ads revenue be damaged by it? After reading today’s news I understand that Facebook is trying to build a brand awareness machine. This means that the objective for advertising in Facebook would be different from that of Google’s adSense network (based on purchase intentions). Now, the question is, which one will bring more revenues to advertisers? Generally speaking, it’s harder to trace the effectiveness of brand awareness ads than Google ads, so will the investment pay off for marketers?
To solve this itchy problem, they are offering what they call Facebook Insights. Here is where things get funny: “Facebook Insights gives access to data on activity, fan demographics, ad performance and trends that better equip marketers to improve custom content on Facebook and adjust ad targeting“. Ok, let’s analyze each one:
At first I though this was about ad performance, but it seems it’s different. Making a wild guess I can imagine they can track which pages you visit most (friends profiles, brands pages, groups pages, etc.). They might track your actual normal activity within your profile pages (page views, how much time you spend on each page, what sequence of pages you navigate more often, at which hours you are most active, in my case from 11am to 14pm for example, which parts of a page you give more attention to, etc.), so they know which are the best spots/time slots to feed you ads.
Of course, data mining to the rescue. They are going to drill down the users profiles and retrieve all their information, including country, state, city or town, political views, relationship status, etc. Pretty scary isn’t it? This is something I’ve been ranting about for some time now. People aren’t really aware of the value of their personal information or the wealth of information they put on the Internet. But, most people that are screaming right now about this, should read the Facebook’s terms, as they clearly state that the information you pour into Facebook is theirs to use. I’m wondering what more interesting things they can retrieve from your profile. Lets see, which networks are you linked via your friends, which might give you which type of friends you normally interact with. In my case, most of my friends are from Berkeley, so you can infer I get along quite well with people from Berkeley, or I’m interested in Berkeley. My posted items can also be analyzed to see which items are the ones I like most. Of course, the likeness application is a gold mine. They can extract (I suppose with consent from likeness developers) which friends are “more like me” and easily target them, or vice versa. The same can be applied to the Wall application (no consent needed here as it’s from Facebook).
How are they going to track this? I assume they’ll pull all the hits either on a banner or the user’s news feed. Standard procedure here. Interesting to see which one gets a better hit ratio. Intuition tells us that the news feed will be the winner, but intuition isn’t always right. We’ll have to see some numbers. I haven’t seen any indications yet of price differences for banners and news feed ads, I’m assuming here they’ll probably be different.
I speculate they’ll show some nice graphs where you can see how the campaign is going. Brand tracking might fall under this category. Zuckerberg said on the press release you would be able to track your brand through Facebook’s public forums. I wonder if this would extend in a future to personal walls or even inboxes. That’s a scary thought, even though the marketer won’t be able to track which wall or inbox the buzz came from.
All comments are welcomed, I want to know what people think about the future possibilities of the system, or even if they are thinking about using it. New ideas for more data mining on my Facebook profile?
UPDATE: I received the first spam message from Robert Scoble. He created a brand page for himself so you can join and be a fan of Scoble. It’s going to be very interesting to see how all this develops.
Image Credits: Wikipedia.org, Techcrunch.com, Blogpulse.com