Do you ever wonder why in the world you receive the ads you do on Facebook or other online venues? Methinks personalized, targeted advertising still has a long way to go.
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Much has been said recently (here, here and here, for example) about whether Facebook can overtake Google as the market leader in online adversting. I am certainly not an advertising guru, but from the online consumer cheap seats I occupy, some things seem pretty clear to me.
When I visit Google – I am searching for something. I type in a keyword or two and expect results that are relevant to my search. Both the regular search results and the ads presented to me are often helpful – directly in line with what I am seeking. The direct connection between my current frame of mind and ads presented to me is very obvious.
On the other hand, when I visit Facebook, I am seeking to connect with people I know, hoping to see interesting content they have posted and offering content and commentary of my own. Searching for items I may be willing to buy is usually the farthest thing from my mind. Facebook does a terrible job of assessing my current context and interests before presenting ads to me.
Google ads are like various brands of breakfast cereal that are presented to me when I purposely visit the cereal aisle in a grocery store. Because I have an active intent to buy cereal, the Google ads, like cereal choices, are usually very relevant to my search and a natural part of my expected user experience.
Facebook ads, on the other hand, are like the obnoxious array of items stuffed into the long aisle I must endure before reaching a KMart checkout counter. Lots of stuff, mostly terribly irrelevant, screaming “buy me!”
Just like KMart will never get rich from my paltry purchases from their checkout aisles, Facebook will never get rich from me responding to Facebook ads in their current form. Facebook must somehow do a much, much better job of understanding my current frame of mind and presenting relevant ads, or they will wither and die as an advertising medium.
What is more … if Facebook doesn’t fix the irrelevant, obnoxious way they present ads to me, I might just get fed up and quit visiting Facebook, much like I rarely visit KMart any more.
In my humble opinion …
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 18, 2012
Earlier this week, just days before Facebook’s IPO would launch, GM announced that it was pulling its advertising campaigns from Facebook. I was intrigued to learn today that GM is also dropping its Superbowl ads.
I’m not an advertising expert by any means, but I applaud GM for not just following the herd. My post yesterday implied that too many of us, particularly in our use of social media, are just like lemmings, mindlessly following each other off the proverbial cliff. It is refreshing to see a company, particularly one as big and stodgy as GM, defy the herd mentality and chart a separate course.
In my recent post, I made this observation:
[Facebook and Google] are essentially advertising channels, whose real customers are not those of us who visit their sites, but the advertisers who pay them money.
That is where Intent comes in. The most valuable commodity Google and Facebook can sell to their advertising customers is the Intent of the people who visit their sites – the Intent to explore, to examine, and ultimately, to buy. The better either company can be at determining the Intent of their users, the better they are prepared to rake in the bucks from companies who advertise with them.
From that perspective, I have been fascinated by the recent big news that Facebook has settled charges with the FTC over charges the Facebook deceived users about privacy. As reported by the Daily Beast,
… Facebook promises to stop making “deceptive privacy claims” and get users’ permission before changing the way it shares their information. The social-media company must also submit to privacy audits for 20 years. …
Acknowledging this settlement, Mark Zuckerberg posted a lengthy statement on the Facebook blog:
… I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes. In particular, I think that a small number of high profile mistakes, like Beacon four years ago and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done. … But we can also always do better. I’m committed to making Facebook the leader in transparency and control around privacy. …
Not all pundits accepted Zuckerberg’s contrite response. Dan Lyons of the Daily Beast posted a cynical article entitled, “The Truth About Facebook Privacy—if Zuckerberg Got Real.”
The social network just settled privacy charges with the FTC, and its CEO posted a lengthy non-apology on the company blog. But here’s what Mark Zuckerberg might have said if he dared to be brutally honest. …
Let’s skip to the meat of Dan’s article (his view of what an truly candid Zuckerberg would have said:
… The truth is, we have no interest in protecting your privacy, and if you still believe that we do, then you are stupider than we thought, and believe me, we already thought you were pretty stupid. Think about it. The only way our business works is if we can track what you do and sell that information to advertisers. Did you honestly not realize that?
You are not our customer. You are the product that we sell. For us to say we’re going to protect you is like the poultry industry promising to create more humane living conditions for chickens. Sure, they say that. But you know they don’t mean it.
Same with us. We will never, ever stop trying to pry data out of you. How could we? We’re a business. We’re doing this to make money. And our investors would like it very much if we can make absolutely as much money as possible. It’s simply not in our nature to stop. You know the fable about the scorpion and the frog? Yeah. It’s like that. …
Pretty harsh? Yep! But there are glimmers of truth in there. Just remember the next time you visit Facebook (which I have already done several times already today), “You are the product that we sell.”