I'm a bit underwhelmed by Facebook's announcement concerning its new ad programs. I mean, come on, do they really think marketers are going to do things any differently with Facebook Pages than they would with fake profiles on MySpace? A kazillion young people will friend a Wendy's hamburger page, Wendy's will pat itself on the back for being so successful, and it won't mean a damned thing. I am, however, really looking forward to seeing targeted flyers, groups and wall posts blown out. I mean, I was messing with the Facebook Flyers interface the other day, and I got really excited by being able to target people in New York who have "media" or "advertising" in their profile. But what I really wanted to do wasn't yet a capability. I want to be able to target job ads to people who say they work at Digitas or Universal McCann or any of the agencies in New York, or who have worked there at one time. I want to be able to target any interest, not just ones that have critical mass. I want to be able to overlay multiple targeting criteria and have the database tell me every time how many people are in my potential universe.
I'm nervous about Beacon. Unfortunately, I think it's going to come down to perception rather than reality. It all depends on how much of a frenzy privacy advocates are going to be able to whip up about the transfer of things like purchase data, as well as, frankly, how much money the public perceives Facebook to be able to make off of it. Right or wrong, people don't like it when others make money from their information.
I like the concept behind social ads, as long as the targeting criteria drill down far enough. Again, it's all about letting marketers set their targeting criteria, and not about herding them into "buckets."