The Facebook Marathon
Robert Young wrote an interesting post on Gigaom asking the question whether Facebook missed the boat or is here to stay.
One thing that is crystal clear is that the guys at Facebook are just getting started. The recent video deal with Comcast, the upcoming gift shop, the jobster deal and probably a boat load more on the way. Last time I was in Palo Alto I wondered what was up with the line of people stretching out from facebook to hiway 280 and back was all about, now I know, it was all the BD guys from the F10000 waiting to do deals :) (joke). The Facebook niche is as much college aged adults as was googles niche the technorati. They did both start there though. Facebook is and will continue to do deals, real deals, with name brand, established companies who all want so badly to market to the Facebook users.
Robert and some of his readers bring up some interesting issues that these advertisers appear to be experiencing via their placements in Facebook. It seems they aren't getting the results they want or thought they would. SHOCKER. Could it be that this population doesn't have the disposable income they thought, are more fickle than anticipated, have no patience, are multitasking while online, or just don't buy stuff online?
Perhaps, but doubtful. I believe the problem is these advertisers haven't qualified the audience they are marketing to and developed a strategy to assuage the fact that these people know that if it talks like a rabbit, hops like a rabbit, &^$%s like a rabbit and eats carrots night and day then chances are it is a rabbit. The rabbit in this case is their marketing efforts. These advertisers also spend ad dollars on network television and rely upon Nielsen ratings to tell them whteher or not they spent their money well. Yet in the online world they experience low immediate purchases and they question the value as it relates to where they spend their ad dollars. That makes perfect sense in a vacuum environment like television or radio or print where you literally have no idea how or who is watching what. Is Nielsen selling beachfront property on the Texas gulf too?
When an industry like advertising can get lazy and assume what worked in the past will work in the future, their clients will experience a relative decline in the utility of a dollar spent on advertising. In this case, the agencys are developing campaigns and buyin inventory from facebook and placing their campaigns in the inventory and when an ad is served, it's served and that's it. It's just served. Why is that? facebook users have grown up on the internet, know about spam, pop ups, phishing, dos, ddos, etc and just as the generation before them became immune to direct mailings that came via USPS delivery person, this generation is immune to the lame ads being served today. If these advertisers want to really see value in their advertising spends they will need to make some major adjustments including adopting a long term, not short term strategy.
Short term is like a one night stand and nobody likes being screwed. They like to get laid which implies a mutually pleasing relationship. Success based advertising is short term and there is certainly a place for it among these users but it's definitely not coming from a mainstream company like CocaCola or McDonalds. It's coming from the guy across campus who just posted a msg saying he has KGB for sale for $40 an eigth. Brand establishment, brand placement and brand alignment are the long term approach advertisers will need to take if they aren't selling drugs or sex. It shouldn't be a surprise, they've been thinking they were doing this all along with the other three networks(TV, Print, Radio). We're seeing product placement in films so and some TV programming and we will soon see it online too. Conde Naste and Reddit is an example of this alignment and that combination will be a winner because they are bridging that gap that the advertiser can't and the Madison Ave marketing agency sees this new wave of strategy marketing as a threat to their business model of selling airtime, eyeballs, ears, clickthroughs, etc they are disincented to adopt it now, when the opportunity is in front of them. Like anything else, advertising strategies and associated successes are cyclical and have a finite timeframe and always have some association with the culture of the time. Therefore, as time moves on so should your thoughts on marketing.
Facebook wasn't stupid for choosing to remain independent, they 'get' it and are quite clueful. It is a marathon, not a sprint and steady progress will allow facebook to cross the finish line. If we're in mile 8 right now, facebook, google, salesforce, ebay, amazon, and yahoo are all still very much contenders who will likely find romance amongst them, it just may not be what we thought it would or when we thought it would happen.