Will Facebook Advertising Fail?

The filing of the Facebook IPO has caused many to speculate about the future of Facebook advertising. With a new focus on revenue generation -- a continuous pressure for any company, especially a publicly traded one -- what will this mean for marketers who previously leveraged Facebook as a relatively low-cost tool for consumer engagement?

There are some potentially exciting opportunities ahead for brands. New targeting opportunities, new advertising products, additional reach through mobile, and hyper-localization are all potentially positive outcomes. On the other hand, increased clutter, higher costs and backlash from users could negatively impact the social giant’s reputation and audience base. We all should proceed with caution.

Here are a five points to consider:

1. Who wants more ads? For the users who want to share pictures of their kids’ latest dance recital, debate their views on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy or gloat about their college alma mater’s big win, I would think not. The new focus on revenue generation could mean more ads, which could adversely impact user experience. Relevancy to the user must be at the forefront of any campaign strategy. More advertising products also means more competition for eyeballs and clicks. The cost of Facebook advertising has skyrocketed. But can conversions keep pace? As always, successful campaigns will need to provide value for users.



2. Many paid campaigns focus on driving “Likes” as a key performance measure, but the value of a “Like” continues to be elusive. In the new age of Facebook, content will need to focus less on Likes and more on engagement. Are the new advertising opportunities going to be up to the challenge? To further complicate matters for marketers, changes to the News Feed make earned media a tougher proposition. 96% of people who “Like” a brand page never go back to that page. Sharing through the News Feed is key to continued engagement, which means marketers will need to post more frequently, with relevant content, to generate interaction. 

3. Will new mobile opportunities be able to deliver? Since the filing of the IPO, bloggers and industry news sources are abuzz about opportunity in the mobile space. Will the mobile platform be able to deliver an optimal ad experience for Facebook users? Maybe for iPad, but without the right content, smartphones will be a challenge. Banner ads, currently the most popular mobile display unit, won’t win here. Limited real estate and the threat of intrusion will be big barriers to overcome. Facebook’s mobile ad format will need to integrate seamlessly with content experience to provide value for the mobile user.

4. GPS capability is baked into smartphones today, opening up a world of opportunity for location-based targeting. Marrying this with the Facebook’s user base could be a big win for brands, so marketers should be thinking about how to leverage this technology, specifically when it comes to testing paid ads as part of their targeting toolbox.

5. Marketers must be mindful of the differences in devices. They will need to craft their campaigns to meet the unique needs of tablet versus the smartphone, as well as how users of each device prefer to get information. Design considerations, content strategy and user experience may need to be different for each device

The new frontier has some exciting potential, along with certain pitfalls. Marketers should ensure their content strategy is tight, and their mobile house in order.

1 comment about "Will Facebook Advertising Fail?".
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  1. Sean Grace from Strategic Franchising, February 15, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.

    As a user, I personally resent the fact that I need to see ads when I view a family photo. As a marketer, this makes me wonder how effective this tactic will be. There's a limit to what people will notice as well. When ads are everywhere on the interface I tend to tune them all out.

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