So let's start by talking about heroin dealers and Facebook. Same thing. They both give you a free taste till you're hooked. Then start charging you dearly for what used to be free. This causes you to start burglarizing neighbors for cash until they eventually find you unconscious on the floor of a by-the-hour hotel in the bad part of town.
Remember when Facebook encouraged brands to build a fan following and then Likes to cultivate relationships with individuals, and to post content on their brand pages to be served to the newsfeed of their Likers? Remember that? What a deal it was – free advertising! Better than free advertising, actually, because the content wasn't, you know, advertising. So people consumed and shared it on its own merits with enhanced emotion and diminished suspicion.
As recently as two years ago, despite the filtering action of Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm, 16% of brand posts found their way to fans' newsfeeds. Well, the free smack days are over. In March, the percentage had been throttled down to less than 7. And Facebook has said it will go down much farther.
No problem, though, Sheryl Sandberg says, just lean in…and run advertising to make up for the precipitous loss of reach. But the party's over, fiend. The glacine envelopes of pixels are gonna cost you.
Actor Rainn Wilson, of all people, tweeted the problem most succinctly: Turns out my @Facebook is kind of worthless. I used to post & reach most of my 200k followers, now I reach 5k & have to pay to hit more.
Is that a shakedown? Is it racketeering? Of course not. If the mob comes to you and says pay up or your union workers will start working more slowly, that's a shakedown. This is simply a breach of faith, the biggest bait and switch in the history of commerce.
The Other Half of the Market
Here's a surefire business idea I'm offering for free, just because I'm too busy to get rich at the moment. You'll recall the Baby Einstein video series, which invited ambitious parents to rationalize parking their rugrats in front of the TV by offering enrichment? As if. But those folks left some money on the table. Remember, exactly half the population is on the left side of the bell curve. Forget Baby Mozart. Baby Van Gogh. Baby Galileo. Ready?
Baby Kid Rock. Baby Kinkaid. Baby Limbaugh. Baby Jenny McCarthy.
Just sayin,’ is all. My gift to you.
Down the Tube
YouTube has become a bigger and bigger ad medium, pushing toward $10 billion this year, not even counting what's spent to produce YouTube videos themselves. And -- good news! -- at the current trajectory only about $9 billion of that will be squandered.
Sophisticated marketers are doing just about everything wrong: mis-targeting, wasting time and money trying to catch viral lightning in a bottle, repurposing TV spots, forsaking the content formats that are most successful and more.
More on this subject April 29, when I address the Ubertube Brand Summit in New York. Here's the short version: It looks like TV, but it is not TV. And if you're treating it like TV, you are a fool.
And, Finally, This Just in From the Media:
Plucked from the headlines, the ultimate Revenge of the Nerds: