August 07, 2014

Facebook's About Face

Here at the Ketel One Conference Center of The Ad Contrarian Global Headquarters, we've been talking lately about the remarkable success that Facebook has achieved.

Not only have we been talking about it, but we've been high-fiving ourselves and taking full credit for it.

Perhaps you remember Facebook in its initial incarnation. It was the social media upstart that was going to slay the traditional advertising dragon. Well, it seems that it has done just the opposite. It has become a juggernaut of traditional paid advertising.

Some of the baloney that Facebook first tried to sell us was:
  • Consumers wanted to "join the conversation" about brands on line.
  • Precision targeting and social media marketing were going to make mass marketing obsolete.
  • Traditional paid advertising was a thing of the past.
But according to The New York Times...
"Facebook has changed its pitch and the products it offers advertisers so often that many marketing executives are wary."
Now Facebook is making money hand over fist, its stock value has soared, and they've done it by completely abandoning their initial principles and implementing the semi-brilliant marketing advice of a certain Luddite dinosaur blogger.

A couple of years ago a piece appeared in this space entitled Either Facebook Is Nuts Or I Am. The piece made a few points:

First, was that Facebook's "precision targeting" strategy was dumb.
"Why would a company that can reach a billion people...want to sell targeting? They should be selling anti-targeting. They should be selling reach. They are the only media property in the solar system that reaches a billion people (yet) they are trading on their ability to reach falafel lovers in Yonkers.
They're sitting on a gold mine, but they're throwing away the gold and selling the dirt."
Second was that they had to abandon the social media marketing fantasy and realize they were in the advertising sales business...
"...the Z-man has to get used to the idea that he's in the ad business... he has to get rid of all the Global Chief  Engagement Content Relationship Jargonators.
He has to get some ad sales people who know what the f/k they're selling, and then give them something worthwhile to sell. "
Third, they needed to forget about the little postage stamp ads they were peddling and develop some ad units that had impact.
"They need to offer big-time advertisers something of real value, not the crap they are currently selling."
Two recent reports, a very positive one in The New York Times and a very negative one in The Wall Street Journal, indicate that Facebook management have become assiduous readers of this blog.

First, they are soft-pedaling the precision targeting and emphasizing the mass reach. Reporting on a meeting that Facebook's sales staff had with a big client, The Times reporter says......
"At the meeting (Facebook's) ad strategists were saying they wanted (the client) to spend money to show ads to every American woman 45 and older on Facebook — as many as 32 million people."
Next, they have pretty much abandoned the social media bullshit...
"A few years ago, the company was telling brands to increase the number of people following their pages. Now it says fans are largely irrelevant." 
And finally, they have gotten rid of the no-impact crappy little side bar ads and replaced them with big fat ads right in the middle of your feed, and as The Journal said..." a changed format for Facebook's right-hand column ads. They're now larger..."

Unfortunately, old habits die hard. Even though Facebook is no longer kidding themselves about what business they're in, the nitwits in agencies and marketing departments still don't get it. According to a piece in Media Post, Facebook just signed a $100,000,000 advertising deal with marketing giant RB. Here's what a clueless RB jargonmeister had to say:
"This is not about advertising, but rather about collaboration to drive growth for RB brands and engagement on Facebook,"
Oh, good. For a minute there I thought this might be about advertising.

Thanks to Jim Dittmann and Prof. Byron Sharp for links regarding today's post.


Richard Williams said...

I have never purchased anything from Facebook. Actually, I just don't read the ads at all - they're just stuff that gets in the way. I resent it, but they've got to make money somehow, I suppose.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

What's a FaceBook? Har har.

I rate every ad, and I do so with random gripes. Just for shits and giggles. It uncorks some unknown well of glee to know that I'm, in some way, giving the finger to their need for metrics, tracking, spying, storing and targeting. I'm sure there's some algorithm that hunts down my feedback and kills it before it can have an impact, but I find it amusing nonetheless.

Related note: There's some bloke in Austria suing Facebook for a second time. The first was after he successfully made them reveal all 1100 pages of information they knew about him. This time is for another privacy gripe. I hope he wins.

mehta said...


MB said...

Is there a source for these facts? I'd love to spread them and that is the first question that will be asked!

Jerome said...

Thanks for sharing this...