Facebook’s ad platform is the Flip of advertising: smart, simple and just enough to be effective.
If you haven’t already tried Facebook’s advertising platform you should – because it, and services like it, are increasingly going to become part of the vocabulary and literacy of the future perfect. For better and sometimes definitely for worse it democratizes access to run a particular form of online advertising.
The platform allows anyone with a Facebook account and PayPay/credit card/… to create a targeted advertising campaign in a few minutes, with Facebook approval to run the ad appearing within an hour. You can target the advertisement by many criteria including location, age, gender, sexual preference, company, school,… and can fine-tune the campaign once it starts – for example I managed to push a narrowly targeted ad in front of a Facebook-using colleague based on little bit of knowledge of her background.
The broad implication of platforms such as this (and I’m thinking beyond AdSense) will be the true mainstreamification of online advertising – Facebook’s ability to cross-sell to its users – anyone who has created a facebook event page is particularly juicy virgin target) will bring 101 online advertising skills to a broader demographic. Increasingly the people previously-known-as-consumers will be able to think in terms of segmentation, click-through and reach, which in turn will continue to change the way they expect advertisers target them – the acceleration of an already shifting target.
I know, you’re right – none of this is particularly new, except that it is. Sony made umpteen different models of feature-rich camcorder only to be trumped by the Flip – it’s not about being first, its about being relevant to a particular demographic, and one thing Facebook’s senior management understands is relevancy (of course how they apply that understanding is a different issue).
In the spirit of pushing the boundaries Facebook needs take their platform a few steps further – allowing their users to see the criteria by which advertisers are seeking them out and revealing the price paid to put the advertisement in front of their eyeballs. You gotta know your (lack of) worth.
The New York Times explores the line between targeted and creepy here..