Writing by Brick Marketing in Social Media
AdAge published an interesting article last week that states that Facebook is testing a new ad targeting model on 1% of its users worldwide, which amounts to about 6 million users. The new targeting model uses real-time conversations. According to AdAge:
“Facebook has been delivering targeted ads based on wall posts and status updates for some time, but never on a real-time basis. In general, users’ posts and updates are collected in an aggregate format, adding them to target audiences based on the data collected over time. Keywords are a small part of that equation, but Facebook says sometimes keywords aren’t even used. The company said delivering ads based on user conversations is a complex algorithm continuously perfected and changed. The real aim of this test is to figure out if those kinds of ads can be served at split-second speed, as soon as the user makes a statement that is a match for an ad in the system.”
AdAge’s example of this kind of targeting is:
“Users who update their status with “Mmm, I could go for some pizza tonight,” could get an ad or a coupon from Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut.”
If the tests yield positive results and Facebook decides to implement this sort of targeting to all 600 million of its users there is no doubt that the advertising implications will be huge. This kind of advertising will encourage companies to create ads on Facebook that have this sort of real-time targeting in mind. While some companies may continue to run brand awareness campaigns, it’s likely that many others will increase their use of offer and coupon campaigns. This sort of tactic could work very well when targeting mobile users. While someone may not be motivated to drive to a sports shop to get a deal on a baseball equipment after posting, “looking forward to baseball season!” on their wall, someone that is already out and about may be more likely to do so.
This blog post had an interesting take on the potential new Facebook ad targeting format. He states that the nature of these kinds of ads could lead people to post things just to get deals and that Facebook users might game the system for their own use. This is a plausible theory, and could possibly become true once Facebook users catch on to the new ad formats.
The question is, would this diminish Facebook’s credibility? People use Facebook to connect with and share with others. For now, users post things simply based on what they are feeling at the moment. It’s very natural and nothing is posted with ulterior motives, such as to get a coupon. If status updates begin to look like bait to get a deal people won’t care about them anymore and won’t even pay attention. Interest in the service will wane because it got too corporate.
Facebook is always changing and evolving. It’s really only a matter of time until status updates become something new. However, should it really be ads that prompt this change?