Facebook Ads Already More Relevant

Facebook ads relevant

The big news today was Facebook‘s announcement of its new advertising network, and the ability for brands to have pages. MySpace also has announced a major advertising initiative.

Jeremiah Owyang has done a great job of summarizing what’s new on both of these platforms. When the Facebook system, especially the new Pages for businesses, launches later tonight, I’m sure I will have some more thoughts to add. I’m a hands-on and visual learner, so I will look forward to experimenting tomorrow and beyond.

From what I’ve seen so far, though, I think this will be huge. Steve Rubel cautions against drinking the Web 2.0 Kool Aid (and offers his own tips for detox), but I think he’s overstating the contrarian case. He says only advertisers can save Web 2.0, and he’s right, as the MySpace and Facebook offerings indicate.

But maybe being halfway between Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue, I’m not as fully experiencing the euphoria Steve senses. I agree there will be a lot of the Web 2.0 and social networking startups that will flop. But some will succeed.

A good chunk of the money that is currently being spent on mass media advertising (primarily TV) will be going elsewhere. See what Jeff Jarvis has to say about Dell’s new approach to marketing. I may be wrong, but I believe it’s something like $67 billion a year. As mainstream media audiences continue to shrink, advertisers will want to put their money where consumers’ attention is. It won’t be enough to support every “me-too” networking site, but those that can provide value for advertisers have a great opportunity.

I’ve been experimenting lately with the pay-per-click Facebook Flyers, and have seen some interesting results. But Flyers are soooo October. Things are changing so rapidly in this social networking advertising field that it will take a serious effort to keep pace, at least if you want to be among the leaders.

With that said, I just wanted to call attention to how the ads I’m experiencing in Facebook are already becoming more targeted and relevant, even before the new system launches. Among my Facebook Flyers experiments was an ad I placed for the Your Voice, New Vision listening tour on behalf of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. We had a trailer in Harvard Square today in Cambridge, Mass. getting the patient perspective on health reform, so we used Facebook Flyers to promote the event.

So it was interesting that as I was in Facebook today, one of the flyers that was served to me was from Harvard Business Review. Facebook apparently saw Harvard mentioned in my flyer, and therefore targeted a Harvard-related ad to me.

Likewise, I got the flyer promoting Stevie Wonder concert tickets shown at the top of this post, undoubtedly because Stevie is in my musical preferences. And when I clicked, I came to this site.

Stevie Wonder

The really happy ending for the advertiser would have been if I’d have continued through to buy tickets. I didn’t. But at least the ad I saw was more interesting and relevant to me, a happily married father of six, than some of the others I’ve gotten. Like this one:

facebook singles ads
Which all makes me think that if Facebook plays this right, it could actually enhance the user experience with advertising by targeting ads to people’s interests. If I see more of Stevie and less of thirtyplussingles, I will like Facebook even more.
The Social Ads element may also be quite powerful by adding friend validation to the mix. There’s danger of overstepping and becoming too ad-dominated, but so far Facebook has been judicious in extending advertising. I think Zuckerberg and the gang will likely do this well, too.

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