Facebook’s Beacon ad platform — where some of your ecommerce activity was automatically announced to your friends without your permission — is widely regarded as a failure. But that doesn’t mean that the company is abandoning the big-picture idea.
Yesterday Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of monetization, walked AllFacebook through the possiblities offered by Facebook’s Social Ads program — and in doing so reminded us that the two plans work along similar paths. The difference: Beacon was designed to tell your Facebook pals what you were doing outside of Facebook, while Social Ads keeps tabs on things you do on the site. In both cases, the programs allow advertisers to capitalise on that information.
Here’s how it can work: If you use a Ticketmaster app to find a ticket for a concert, for example, Facebook uses an algorithm to figure out which of your friends would be most interested in reading about that activity, and it tells them about it in their news feeds. Under this new program, Ticketmaster would be able to pay so that action gets transmitted across all of your friends’ news feeds.
It’s a great idea for marketers and advertisers — nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations. But the success of this program will depend on how Facebook implements it.
If users are automatically enrolled without their knowledge and they have to figure out how to turn the service off and on their own, then it’s no improvement. But don’t see that happening — we think Facebook’s learned its lesson: The company readily accepts that it made missteps with Beacon, and we don’t think they’re likely to repeat them.
A better idea: Something that Facebook members wilfully participate in, and are compensated for using. Say, a 5%-10% commission on purchases their friends make via recommendations.
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