Facebook Is Revolutionizing Advertising. So Why Are Facebook Ads Still So Lame?

/// Facebook Is Revolutionizing Advertising. So Why Are Facebook Ads Still So Lame?

April 4, 2013  |  Blog

Let’s talk about Facebook, shall we?

According to a gushing new company profile by Vanity Fair’s Kurt Eichenwald, the world’s biggest social network is “a widely misunderstood company that has quietly been pioneering a business model unlike any other in Silicon Valley — or, for that matter, Madison Avenue.”

Unlike any other, you say? How’s that, exactly?

“Facebook has developed new targeting techniques, giving advertisers an unprecedented ability to reach only the potential audiences they want.” So powerful are these techniques, in fact, they “could herald the biggest transformation in American advertising since the advent of television.”

Wow. Pretty impressive stuff. A lot more impressive than, say, the Facebook ad at the top of this post, which I screen-grabbed from my News Feed in the mobile iOS app a couple weeks ago. In case you’re wondering, I’m not a bodybuilder.

Nor do I play video games. Nor was I interested in pledging my support for assault rifles three weeks after the Sandy Hook mass shooting.

Yet these ads are a lot more in keeping with my experience of Facebook advertising over the last few months than Eichenwald’s breathless hosannas, and probably with yours, too. And that’s only scratching the surface of Facebook spam. We might just as easily talk about the new “dark posts” that let brands clutter up users’ feeds with marketing messages so spammy, the brands themselves don’t want them on their pages.

All of this is doing exactly what’s it’s supposed to: driving revenues. According to a new report from eMarketer, Facebook is already hoovering up 30% of the dollars going toward mobile display advertising, and it’s one of only two companies whose mobile revenues will surpass $1 billion in 2014. (Google is the other, with $6.3 billion, more than four times Facebook’s take.)

But let’s not kid ourselves that this is all about targeting. Facebook’s promise to invent a new, organic form of advertising that uses human relationships as a vector for marketing messages which, bearing the imprimatur of friendship, are welcomed by their recipients — that hasn’t materialized. That leaves brute force.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Eichenwald that the introduction of advertising into News Feed depressed user engagement by 2%. Facebook’s solution? Making other tweaks to News Feed that promote usage so that “we are still delivering a much better product on average.”

Still, when Eichenwald claims, “The Facebook of old — well, of a year ago — is almost irrelevant to the company that exists today,” he isn’t totally wrong. The Facebook of today is much spammier.

Link: Facebook Is Revolutionizing Advertising. So Why Are Facebook Ads Still So Lame?

Forbes – Jeff Bercovici

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