With a lackluster IPO, I’ve been reading a lot about how Facebook’s big failure is not being able to monetize ads on mobile devices. Boo hoo they’ll figure that out. While I believe privacy should be an option, and if you want to install ad blocking software go right ahead, sorry it’s not more obvious but I don’t think the slower learners on the internet should dictate the culture any more than I think shit should be PG for the kids sake (which drives me nuts about Pinterest and LoveIt, no mechanism for adults to not self censor)…. I want to say I’ve had Facebook run three ads I actually clicked on and was happy about this week.
Why is this a big deal? Well, one of them was running for a band I work for. They were able to target just their fans in the state to run the ad. That’s pretty amazing, as running an ad on a popular music blog would have cost more and not been as targeted. It works well for niche interests. I suggested next time they do some AB testing to see if a certain ad was more effective, and to make sure to record the data on who clicked on the ad. I’m always trying to guess the fan demographics, it helps when ordering t-shirts and planning tours and the like. It’s amazing we can do this in 2012. I can’t hate on Facebook for letting us target people who like the band. While I would love to say I’m neutral towards advertising, I laugh and roll my eyes and generally have a negative emotional experience whenever an ad is targeted at me that completely misses the mark…like making meals and realizing any prepaired food I’m using has packages that scream “HEY MOM! YOU’RE SO COOL/SMART FOR BUYING THIS FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS!!!!”
I’m 33 and not a mom. I eat mac and cheese because it’s yummy and my boyfriend is on Drs orders to keep scarfing down those sugared toaster pastries to gain weight. Do they really need to put MOM MOM MOM on the boxes to sell this to other adults?
Great ad #2: Win dinner with President Obama. Okay, so I wasn’t too happy it totally dragged me to a donation site, but I was happy they got three things right about me. I enter contests. I like food. I’d like to have dinner with the President. This makes up for a whole bunch of ads for, oh, tofu, which I’m allergic to, but probably comes up because I end up debating my vegan friends about the health benefits of different diets fairly often. Still, good job marketing team. 865 Million in ads and I see one (shows you where I spend my time online huh), but it’s a GOOD ONE. Oh, and by the way, when I win I hope we can go to Chez Panisse. More about Obama’s digital strategy at a UK Paper (love it!) : Obama campaign unleashes digital ad blitz in bid to see off Romney challenge from The Guardian
Okay, but the third Facebook ad that got me this week is actually frickin exciting. Kristin Schaal is filming a comedy special for HBO at the FIllmore in SF an tickets are FREE. I tried to get my BF to go to Eugene Mirman too, but it’s two nights in a row. So now I know how people get to go to those tapings, and not just from those guys hawking tickets in Times Square. Now, I have to remember that she was just playing a character on Flight of the Conchords, even if that’s how I really am. Still, Facebook ad + something I want + it’s free = WIN ALL AROUND.
Oh I know I’m just begging for arguments about who owns our personal data etc. and all I can say is go right ahead, just don’t use social media. Or use it very very selectively. Just because it’s free to use, it’s not just billionaires like Zuckerman who are making a living off it…even my (living wage but not extravagant) paycheck is coming from the interactions and advertising running on the platform. I have some complaints to make about new design changes, and lots of complaints on how it’s a sucky platform for music discovery…but hell, free concerts, dinner contests and free stand up shows…if that’s what a mega corporation knows about me then awesome.
I wanted to conclude there, but I can’t. The thing is I’ve been online since 1992. So I have no concept of a social media platform (and I’m including early ISPs, because I was social on them) existing more than a few brief years. Prodigy, Delphi, AOL, MakeOutClub, Friendster, Myspace… this shit will rise and fall and something will rise up in its place. The big shift will be if one service ever manages to migrate our data from the old champion. Do we want to own our own data to the point that this is what we do? Why have 27 of my 800+ Facebook friends connected Facebook with MySpace? (Why can’t I convince people to kill their MySpace accounts?)
Now, I’ve done and posted a lot of stupid things online in my life…that’s what happens when you get online at 12 and I can only imagine how bad it’s going to be for kids who get online at 2. We’re going to adapt, we need to stay aware, I’m all for the privacy advocates raising awareness of the negative side of this targeted advertising. I also think when it’s done right, it gives me happy, and for someone who is a whiner, getting some happy is a good thing.