Erick Shonfeld at TechCrunch says Facebook is getting into the advertising business in a big way, as he covers Mark Zuckerberg’s remarks during Facebook’s ‘social advertising’ shindig in New York. Specifically,
|Facebook is announcing three things: Social Ads (ads targeted based on member profile data and spread virally), Beacon (a way for Facebook members to declare themselves fans of a brand on other sites and send those endorsements to their feeds), and Insight (marketing data that goes deep into social demographics and pyschographics which Facebook will provide to advertisers in an aggregated, anonymous way). These three things together make up Facebook Ads. Here are the press releases for Facebook Ads, Project Beacon, and its launch partners.|
Here’s a gist from MZ:
|2:48: “the next hundred years will be different for advertising, and it starts today. As marketers pushing our information out is no longer enough. We are announcing anew advertising system, not about broadcasting messages, about getting into the conversations between people. 3 pieces: build pages for advertisers, a new kind of ad system to spread the messages virally, and gain insights.”|
|Advertisers can build their own Facebook pages and design them any way they like: “We have photos, videos, discussion boards, any Flash content you want to bring to your page, plus any application a third party developer has made.”|
|2:46 PM: Messages spread virally. All you need to do is get your friends to engage with it and add it to their profiles. Gives example of how causes are spread across Facebook. Support Breast Cancer, more than 2 million members.|
In Facebook Ads – do they have a cluetrain?, Alan Patrick responds,
|I think Mr Zuckerberg is being uncharacteristically humble as this is even more momentous – it marks the point at which Planet Advertising finally left Planet Earth. (At Ad:tech last month the plenary topic on Day Two was by Virgin’s new Space Tourism business – see here – I wondered about the connection between space and Ads at the time, but know we know!). Even the usually fairly rational Forrester Research has fallen hook, line and spaceship for this one.|
That last link goes to MySpace and Facebook launch new Advertising products, why Hyper Targeting, Social Ads and rise of the “Fan-Sumer” matter to brands, by Jeremiah Owyang. Read his whole thing, his links, and then go back to Alan’s case, which he sums up this way:
|So there it is – because you are my friend on Facebook, I will continue to trust you when you flack something rather than when the brand flacks it themself. And at a higher performance rate and pricing than current to boot, according to….Facebook.|
|Our Call – The Cluetrain has finally left the rails.|
|Planet Advertising desperately wants to believe we will all trust all our “friends” who start spamming us with Ads, but they misunderstand the entire dynamic of trusted networks. We trust friends precisely because they don’t do this sort of thing. Once they start, we stop trusting them – its dynamic, not static – you have to keep on co-operating with me to keep my trust, its not a given.|
|And, as anyone who is familiar with the game theory in behavioural economics will tell you, once we suspect we are being played for a sucker / taken advantage of, we will take revenge – even to our own detriment. The backlash on this, since it has been done so crassly, is going to push Planet Advertising back far further than it need be.|
|(In fact, I rather think the original authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto saw this coming down the tracks, Doc Searls for example is leading the charge in VRM approaches that put the control of the user’s social assets back into the users’ hands)|
As I go back to the TechCrunch piece, however, and listen closely to Mark Zuckerberg, I think he’s getting a few more clues than Alan’s giving him credit for, even if he (MZ) doesn’t know it. I get that Facebook really wants to understand people, and relationships. That’s a plus. So is any plan that gives Google competition in a category it has defined and all but owned completely over the last few years. Facebook is in a transcendantly privileged position here.
But the problem for Mark, for Jeremiah, and for all of us (including yours truly) is that we too easily default to framing our understanding of advertising in its own terms. We regard advertising as an independent variable: something ya gotta have. But in fact advertising is a dependent variable. The independent variable is the individual human being. As Chris Locke put it so perfectly nine years ago, we are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. we are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. deal with it.
What we need is to equip demand with better ways of engaging supply. Not just better ways for supply to create and manipulate demand.
Seems to me Facebook is proposing the latter. But I also think they’re new and willing to experiment and work with the 50 million humans now gathered in their walled garden. Unlike traditional media, Facebook doesn’t seem to be looking at those people as the equivalent of cattle. This is good.
The next step is to move outside the advertising frame. In the long run there’s a lot more money to be made helping demand find supply than in just in helping supply find demand.
And I know some folks who can help with that.