Facebook today announced a major departure in their advertising - morphing their site from ads stuck as an afterthought on the sidebar, into “front and center” advertising for new brands. Embracing a much more immersive advertising style for bigger brands - hello Madison Avenue, “we love you!!” Although, like any platform vendor, there is nothing wrong with leveraging user generated content to drive revenue and opportunity.
We see some of these advertising initiatives as a reflection of Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s increased focus on remaking the social marketing behemoth into a “Google killer” Ad Platform second to none in terms of ad reach and appeal to bigger brands. Although driving revenue generation for the upcoming IPO has to be part of the picture - they have to pay for those “McMansions” in tony Palo Alto, Woodside and Los Altos right?
The big picture on Facebook’s Marketing Initiatives:
- Brands can now insert Ads, Videos and Coupons, etc. - any kind of marketing dreck big agencies can think of. Just think: Miley Cyrus tunes in your NewsFeed.
- Was Facebook’s Timeline roll out a “Trojan Horse” for ads? Looks like it. Now brands can build mini web sites right in the timeline - this will of course create new and much broader revenue opportunities and keep users in Facebook’s walled garden environment for longer periods.
- This new strategy will also enable visitors to now see “friends” activity on a branded page - enabling Facebook to leverage it’s user community in a new way, driving relevance and social integration.
- The Admin Tools section is also going through a much needed overhaul: admins will now be able to see the admin console at the to of any manage pages, providing the admin with a new snapshot of activity and the ability to respond directly from messages from every day users.
- This is to a certain extent a major overhaul of Facebook’s user interface - also featuring a new chronological timeline on the right hand side of the page that will enable brands to integrate milestone or noteworthy events in their history, which is a departure from the existing user interface and related advertising capabilities for brands.
- Facebook embraces mobile (40% of their traffic is via mobile access) - for the first time brands will have the abilty to target with ads for the vast droves of consumers who post a never-ending feed of pictures, graphics and images and believe the world needs more pictures of what they are eating for lunch……(we don’t think so).
- Facebook is incorporating an algorithm (think Google’s still secret “page rank” sauce) that will have some impact on how/where a brand’s add appears in the newsfeed (or not). Details on this TBD for the moment.
- This market juggernaut is being rolled out over the next thirty days and administrators will have the ability to react to and adjust their settings in a phased approach.
The jury’s out on these questions:
- Will this breathe new life for Google+ (we don’t think so; they are late to market)?
- How will the 870 million (and growing) Facebook user community react to “ad pollution” in their newsfeeds? Can you imagine a Porsche ad in a branded page for MADD? Expect to see reams of content in the Blogsphere around bad content and context moving forward. The opportunities for the latter will be endless.
- Will big brands embrace this new format? Is this a trick question? No! Absolutely - let us be first to predict a new billion dollar plus (no pun intended) business has been born - ad agencies are already whetting their chops and thinking of new ways to introduce, impact, influence the user’s up till now protected content.
- How will Google, Yahoo and Microsoft react? Read: lots of meetings, musings and anxiety in the Googleplex, Redmond and “new direction” Yahoo.
- Who will take a stab at trying to integrate YouTube elements more deeply in the advertising experience via a branded page? Not for the faint of heart dear reader - Google has to pay to play in this new Facebook centric marketing world and this won’t be easy.
- What are CRM implications for brands? Most are still struggling while trying to get their arms around CRM (customer relationship management) elements across the social web with challenges and processes via Twitter and Facebook alone. This new advertising immersive experience may require much more direct responses via a branded experience on Facebook. (App developers: opportunity awaits you.) The American consumer is not known for her/his patience!
- Will the new admin tools finally give Facebook administrators much more robust analytics tools that are more closely aligned with Google Analytics? We hope so, these are needed.
- How will the unending stream of game developers deal with a more intrusive adverting elements? Just think you may be able to play an exciting round of FarmeVille with friends and family and pick up an order of Round Up for your yard during the game…….marketers take note!
That’s out preliminary take on Facebooks new embrace of all things Madison Avenue - expect reams of digital content and much fawning of marketers moving forward over the next few weeks. If only Don Draper were here to think up a strategy.