Back in 2004, when Facebook had only 1.5 million members — all at colleges — the social network began one of its first attempts at selling ads. According to an old ad sales pitch deck obtained by Digiday, “Thefacebook.com” saw itself saw itself as an “online directory.”
Facebook, of course, began as a replacement for printed or online versions of individual campus face books that allowed students and staff to recognise each other in the early days of each new academic year.
It’s interesting how Facebook initially thought that faculty, staff and academics would be an important part of the future of Facebook. One slide says:
“Thefacebook.com: Connecting academics, personalities, and faces across colleges and universities in the country.”
The deck also implies that Facebook believed that facelessness, or the idea that life in a new college was a daunting, unsocial experience, was a real problem to be solved. The same slide says:
“Changing a large, faceless campus into a[n] online social experience.”
The company saw itself as an “online directory” rather than a place to communicate or socialize:
“Thefacebook.com is an expanding online directory that connects students, alumni, and faculty staff/ through social networks at colleges and universities.”
And an important part of Facebook was the way it adopted any users’ user-away message from AIM. Those were usurper by Facebook’s own status updates.:
“The system also remembers the last user-away message in the AIM system.”
Aside from Facebook’s small size — just 1.5 million at the time Josh Iverson’s ad sales firm Y2M began selling ads for the company — what’s also interesting is the level of targeting Facebook offered at the time. Advertisers could reach students targeted by course or dorm.
But most people had never heard of Facebook. So the deck contains a section of press clippings, including headlines from major media outlets such as Wired and The New York Times … and The Ithaca Online and The Daily Bruin.
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