Facebook's Social Ads: No Way

by francine Hardaway on November 6, 2007

I just read a post by Jeremiah Owyang, a man I truly admire, on today’s announcements at AdTech about Facebook and Myspace’s new social ads, and I think he is wrong.  In fact, I think he’s so wrong about whether this will be successful for Facebook that I not only commented on his blog but decided to post this to my own and the Social Media Club’s — despite the fact that the Second Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference is only two days away and I have plenty of "better" things to do.

I even think I know WHY he is wrong.  He hasn’t spend 35 years in marketing. He looks at it from Facebook’s perspective, and not that of a consumer brand marketer.

First, let’s give a little.  For MySpace, this has potential. Maybe I am jaded, but I don’t think this will work for Facebook
as well as for MySpace. MySpace has a demographic of younger consumers
who are more open to peer pressure. This will work for certain types of ads on Myspace: skate and surfboards, music, cosmetics, etc.

But Facebook has moved in exactly the
opposite direction, going for a more sophisticated and increasingly
older audience.

As an “adult,” I can’t think of a single brand I would “friend.” Not
even BMW or Cartier or Chico’s, or Garnier Fructis, all of which I
either use or have used, own or have owned. And if “friending” them
meant I would have to see their ads, I’d de-friend them even if I like
them, because the presence of the ads — not why I go to Facebook
would deter me. I have other places to look at those ads.

Not to mention all the marketers who will pay people to friend their brands, and start groups that game the system. I see great potential for abuse.

I don’t like this new idea. And believe me, I know somebody has to support social media companies.  And I know marketers are struggling to get to these eyeballs.

So let’s talk about what I DO like. I DID like an ad I saw earlier this week for
leggings from American Apparel. Why did I like it? 1)I wear leggings.
2) The ad was bright-colored, and actually stood out on the Facebook
page (most Facebook ads don’t) 3)It went away after a while. And I did like a Facebook Flyer from Charlene Li, a person I know, asking me to respond if I noticed the flyer.

While I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been also trying to figure
out what brands this could work for on Facebook. Maybe Apple? J.Crew?
It will be a limited buy for the marketer, and many marketers, anxious
to get into social media, will stub their toes on this one. As John
Wanamaker said, 50% of his advertising dollars were wasted, but he was never able to tell which 50%.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremiah Owyang November 6, 2007 at 4:51 pm

I just had lunch with Scoble, he tells me he can’t wait to add Apple, BMW, and Toyota to his fan list.

BTW, there is a big difference between “friend” and what Facebook is launching which is “Fan”.

Just as you’ve placed the Social Media Club logo on your left column and Global Voices, you’re demonstrating you’re a fan.

It’s the same thing, it’s just on a different tool.

Since we’re friends (in real life too) I’ll be much more interested in knowing about an upcoming social media club workshop.

It can work.

Tabz November 6, 2007 at 4:57 pm

I’m gonna have to agree with you on this. I like the idea for Myspace, but Facebook – no thanks. For many of the reasons you’ve outlined. That said, I might friend movies, official Facebook profiles for characters in my favorite TV shows, etc, but I don’t see the value in friending Samsung.

I came here via Jeremiah’s twittering of your post. :)

Edward Vielmetti November 6, 2007 at 4:59 pm

I might see this work if you have a totally rock solid brand that has enough fans that you can get people to sign up for it just so that they can find other fans.

But if there’s any hint of disgruntled customers – any site that’s {brandname}sucks.com – forget it. Because those people will find a way to piggyback on this and get their anti-brand message out there.

francine hardaway November 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Scoble is not the market, Jeremiah :-) Although I love him, too. Apple might be the only one I’d add. I’m watching you guys on Kyte right now…

Jeremiah Owyang November 6, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Tabz (and Francine)

There’s a BIG difference between friending and being a ‘fan’.

The values are different. Let’s be clear that the feature they’re providing is to indicate affinities.

Don’t Facebook users realize they’ve already done this? How? In the profile section, many of us have already given up our favorite movies, affinities, and sometimes products.

This ain’t that strange yo.

Jeremiah Owyang November 6, 2007 at 5:07 pm


Robert is an outlier, true. But his son Patrick isn’t.

Patrick is a hard core apple fan and will be willing to share it with his network.

francine hardaway November 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm

Patrick is a kid. In the peer-pressure age. I rest my case.

francine hardaway November 6, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Movies. That might really work.

Dave Oliver November 6, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Movies, books TV shows, even though commercialized, are art. People can use the art they like to help define themselves. If I have a bunch of action movies on there, it lends itself to describing who I am. If I have Proctor & Gamble on there, this tells nothing about me.

If I’m on a first date or meeting someone socially for the first time, some of the questions that often come up revolve around what kind of movies do I like, favorite movies, etc. Facebook/Myspace profiles are kind of like that…a first date…get to know someone.

Anyway this is why people put these types of interests on their profile. If a commercial/marketing aspect is added overtly, I think this runs the risk of turning people away. People like to be marketed too when they are not overly conscious THAT they are being marketed too. Volunteering to sign up to be a fan of P&G, well…

It might work with certain things…Apple, Video Game Consoles, maybe some designer labels.

Steven Groves November 6, 2007 at 9:21 pm

A good observation and a great comment from Jeremiah too… the market will tell which of you is right and it may be that you both have a point in the respective markets you are referring to.

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