SocialAds: The worst kept secret in marketing

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Forget the Microsoft deal. The real sign of Facebook’s maturity? Its new PR tactics, now featuring announcements of important upcoming announcements and information strategically leaked to highly trafficked blogs.

Such it is that our 23-year-old social overlord’s secret advertising announcement, scheduled for tomorrow in New York, has received more thorough analysis than the federal government’s budget, despite no official confirmation in Zuckerberg’s status.

If even half the speculation proves true, that status might tomorrow read: “Mark is becoming the richest twentysomething in history by helping advertisers know you better than your mom.”
Poking Madison Ave.
We knew something was up in May, when Facebook opened the doors to widget-building with its Facebook developer platform. (Today, I can hardly imagine life without some of these essential widgets, allowing you to throw sheep at friends after turning them into zombies.) Now Facebook is approaching 50 million users and, following the Microsoft deal, is apparently worth nearly $15 billion.
What to do with these friends—making Facebook the number two social site behind MySpace—and a strategic alliance with Microsoft, which desperately chases Google for online ad revenue?
Enter SocialAds, the name that Facebook trademarked in late September, likely for a new advertising service targeting users based on highly personal information such as their age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, relationship status, location and interests.
Mark has sent you a message
Christian rock promoter throwing a singles event in Sarnia? Facebook lets you hit the right masses. Television producer interested in who has your program as a favourite? Facebook gives you a better rating than Nielsen.
Ethics and privacy aside—the subject of future articles, no doubt—Facebook’s move into highly personalized promotion could be no less important than Google’s launch of AdWords about seven years earlier.
Forrester says social marketing will be worth about $10 billion by 2012. So whether you agree with it or not, to reach your target audience, you probably want to add the SocialAds application to your marketing profile.

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3 thoughts on “SocialAds: The worst kept secret in marketing

  1. miro slodki

    No doubt Simon that Social Advertising can be powerful
    but questions remain regarding
    1. participants truthfullnes in what they disclose
    2. how much they disclose
    3. privacy concerns that the chairman of FTC has raised regarding behavior targetting (at last weeks 2 day conference in Washington)
    4. AOL’s recent announcment that it will give its customers the right to opt-in and
    when (not if) will the others follow ( or have it mandated by the Feds
    5. whether and how much adults will embrace social media
    So while it is potentially exciting stuff, don’t be counting your chickens just yet – ethics and privacy are the bedrock.
    without it no one will stay at the party for very long no matter how many sheep throwing zombies you create.
    Cheers –
    Miro

  2. Michael Garrity

    Simon – I’m with you on the impact that social advertising will have on the way that the web works. In essence, Beacon http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/02/ok-heres-at-least-part-of-what-facebook-is-announcing-on-tuesday/#comments is the beginning of a trend already well underway – bringing user generated profile information within a web of related sites such that as a user moves from site to site the information on their identity and activity is shared back and forth. For some, it will seem that the web is getting smarter and more customized, for others it will seem dangerously Orwellian. Advertisers should go into this new field with their eyes open and a strong moral compass to guide their way.

  3. miro slodki

    Michael
    this isn’t a question of having 2 views of cyberspace.
    Cyberspace will continue to evolve and grow. No one doubts that. The question is how it evolves and what kind of respect will exist among participants.
    Everyday we have one euphoric announcement or another talking about how wonderful life is having a customized experience. How wonderful it is to push out ROI traceable offers. That’s from the monetizing camp.
    The other camp are the web users who are using it as a tool to communicate, express, learn and interact within the channel – and yes commerce is part of that as well – but it is only a part.
    The concern being raised is that the tracking of our personal activities has not been opted-in by the population. If you are comfortable with that – great – but I don’t think you would want your FI or government to start sharing your file with whoever had the money to buy the data – its all part of the same thing.
    Its having a balanced respect for the individual and commerce. Businesses exist to serve customer needs – not the other way around. Consumers recognize that for the business to better serve their needs they have to share their problems, needs, experiences in order for the business to become better. But that is becomes a dialogue that leads to stronger brands, done openly with mutual consent and respect.
    For those that don’t embrace mutual conscent/respect – I need to wonder why not. What are they afraid of.
    I guess at the end of the day – it’s a matter of whether you wish to function in a pull or push based economy. The former is based on earned and shared respect, the latter on whatever list/database you exist on.
    Social media – by the same moral fabric they claim to foster need to allow their constituents to decide how their data will be used – otherwise people may/will come to have a different viewpoint of the media and like gazelles on the savanah scatter leaving you with a hollowed out husk.
    peace
    Miro

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