It seems like it was only a matter of time before MySpace and Facebook created their own ad networks in which to compete against the Search Engine giants. With the capabilities to target your key demographic (i.e. age, gender, hobbies), most advertisers are eager to jump on board.
Advertising on social media sites may be a bit controversial and intrusive, but this can’t take away from the fact that it represents the perfect opportunity for a company to converse with their potential customer, instead of just pushing information at them. Websites, such as Facebook, offer behavioral user data that help to give you more detailed information on your target audience’s interests.
Many of my clients felt overwhelmed or intimidated by these sites at first, but after a few sessions of browsing the sites, they caught on quickly and couldn’t wait to join in. These companies would agree that you may be able to put a price on the cost of advertising, but the ability to speak with your customers on this level is invaluable!
Has Facebook gone too far with their last Innovation of Ad strategy? What is the problem with Facebook Beacon?
Facebook has launched a new advertising strategy called Facebook Beacon. It is a spin-off program that takes advantage of its Word of Mouth (WOM) networking to beef up advertising revenues.
So what is the problem? Well, there could be several. First, in some states, if you haven’t solicited to have your name appear as an endorsement for commercial advertising, that could be considered illegal. Second, let’s say you go online and make a purchase in part to keep your confidentiality. More specifically, you didn’t go to a store and buy the product, instead you opt to purchase it online in order to keep your anonymity. If that is the case, you may have just waived for your anonymity without knowing it.
Facebook counters the problem by providing privacy controls. Facebook states that the users of Facebook can opt out from allowing their story to be posted for their friends to see. However each user has to voluntarily choose to opt out. Therefore, if that user doesn’t opt out, Facebook maintains the control in posting that information anyway. Why can’t it be an opt-in program? Why not allow the user to choose to have their story posted? Another issue that arises is clearly addressed by Om Malik, “If you [opt out], your friends won’t see the information, but apparently Facebook still receives it. This means that if you are a Facebook member, Facebook will know what you are doing on each of their partner sites.” This may be yet another privacy violation.
So, the debate comes down to this… as we evolve into a more virtual social era, the users are already knowingly posting private information about themselves for the world to view. They are already waiving their privacy rights, however, those users are maintaining personal control over the information they release. If users allow themselves to be involved in social media forums, what level of control should those users have over the information flowing over the web about them? Should advertisers be able to track those user’s purchases in order to determine behaviorally the most effective ad strategies to employ? Who should have the final say in the information that is released about a person’s buying habits, the social forum or the user?