Sunday, November 11, 2007

Facebook Summing their Ads?

Last weeks we heard that Facebook is working on these three areas:

1. Social Ads (ads targeted based on member profile data and spread virally)
2. Beacon (messages in feeds), and
3. Insight (marketing data that goes deep into social demographics and pyschographics)

So this morning I thought I'd take a look at my Facebook pages to see what Ads pop up --

1. Are they targeted to my member profile?
2. Are they of more appeal to others in my network?
3. Are they relevant to my network at all?
4. In comparison, how appealing are the Ads in the groups I belong to?

To assess the Ads and my questions (for those who cannot see my entire profile), you will need to know some information:

1. I have a dog and have her in my Facebook Album, and have added the Trojan Pet application
2. I don't watch TV much but have the Movie application on my profile
3. My networks are USC and LA, but I've added some friends in the London and Manchester University network -- few UK or SA in relation to US.
4. My profile is set as "Single" and interested in "Friendship" (ie. not dating)
5. I have added the Causes (Charity) application
6. I live in the UK

Here are my findings (I may represent a sample of a population who feel this way too):



How effectively do these Ads target my profile?

Facebook, second and third (possibly more) parties share information on profiles. Users will not know what information they possess, but targeted ads are a clue. And this collection of ads shows me as a user that the information the targets are based on (if profile specific) is weak. The ads targeted at groups, such as Neuroscience Rocks or JoVE, are more appropriate to the audience - but that's a no-brainer.

Pet Owner or Trojan Pet Application

So the choice is made to target a user through the fact that they own a pet (in album) or have added the pet application. Is it sufficient to throw a puppy Eukanuba ad at them? The answer is "no". The reason is because our minds filter out irrelevant material daily. What would be more appropriate? An ad with something eye-catching related to the specific breed that that user owns.

TV Movies DVD

I've made it clear before in my "interests" on Facebook that I don't watch TV much -- so that includes "Desperate Housewives". To me, this ad is just a desperate attempt to throw something more gunky at me. Since I have the iRead and Art application, perhaps a DVD documentary on the lives of one of my authors or artists would be more appropriate.

Relationship Status

Gumtree: "Can't find a decent man?"
Facebook Flyer: "Rent a date for charity?"

Is this form of targeted advertising about dating on a profile fair game or appropriate? Do you think it appeals to the user ie. me -- you're targeting this at me I presume? This puts me off Facebook. On the otherhand, Gumtree and Charities are appealing to me for different reasons -- have you found out those reasons Facebook so that you can help "advertisers" target better and me find useful information -- I enjoy research remember?

Courses & I love Nerds

I've done a distance learning course in the UK before through ifs, so you're right there...I have an interest in distance learning. Would I do just any distance learning course? No. So how do you assess which type of distance learning course (since I've recently graduated from USC too) is worth bringing to my attention, and how do you best do this?

"I love Nerds" -- yes, I enjoy technology, so I may add this application just to see what it entails. But it depends who created the application doesn't it? Because I give them full rights then to see my profile and all those associated with my profile.

Travel, Phones, Cameras, Clothing...
If you introduced links to access or a means to make travel booking through Trainline, BA, Virgin, and the like depending on country and provider, that will be useful. Would I buy a phone or camera as a result of the Facebook ad? Not as it's currently presented to me -- nor clothing.

eFax, skinny jeans, and TV Licences...

I found this amusing in terms of profile targeting. Do many people use eFax? What are the stats compared to email in the UK vs US? I'm not in favor of fax whether e or otherwise. As for skinny jeans and diets, etc -- I'm not interested in that at all.

Why the TV Licence ad? Just because I'm UK? No licences are required for TV's in the US. I have a Licence for my UK TV, but seldom use it, so is it worth having the Licence for the TV? You can watch DVDs and Videos without needing a Licence.

Skype, Be, O2 and Apple Iphone...

Those are more applicable generally. For Skype and Iphone -- what's new? For Be and O2, what's the comparison?

To specifically answer my questions 1-4:

1. Are they targeted to my member profile? No
2. Are they of more appeal to others in my network? Maybe
3. Are they relevant to my network at all? Not really -- more UK than US
4. In comparison, how appealing are the Ads in the groups I belong to? Neuroscience Rocks and joVE have Starbucks ads, SIGN UP FOR docstoc have a XMAS Wishlist, Richard P Feynman Fan Club have Ugg Boots Sale -- more appealing. But even more appealing for the Richard P Feynman Club would be Feynman books for sale and upcoming lectures or events at Caltech.

As a user, when adding a group, I've thought how useful it would be if Facebook gave me the option to say why I'm adding the group -- and the same with leaving it. We see notices all the time of people adding and leaving groups, but never know why. From a Profile perspective, this is a useful piece of intelligence about the user. And it takes two prompt questions from Facebook -- Why are you joining? Why are you leaving?

Once Facebook make changes with Social Ads, Beacon, and Insight...we will be able to compare. Besides "adding applications", giving input on books and interests and inviting friends -- Facebook doesn't appear to ask the user to give targeted feedback in terms of their profiles that I know of. What's the challenge in engaging the user to assist second/third/more parties better?
The Farmers in Facebook will give you one perspective -- "they're not getting paid for it."

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