One of the stories that came out of today’s FaceBook advertising announcement is something called “social ads” where members will get to endorse the products they like. It leverages the ever popular and powerful “News Feed” feature where members can see a list of what their friends have been up to including photos and videos. FaceBook is going to let advertisers create profiles and members can identify themselves as fans by friending the advertiser. So when a member becomes a fan of say Coke all his/her friends will see the announcement in their news feed - something like “Joe is a fan of diet Coke”. Where it gets interesting is Coke can pay to place their logo and a caption underneath every news feed item that references diet Coke. In addition to that Joe’s friends will see his image and text stating his likeness towards diet coke on the banner ads throughout the site.
“Nothing influences a person more than the recommendation of a trusted friend,” said Mr. Zuckerberg.
In addition, Facebook will allow advertisers to tap into the vast stores of data that its users provide. They can display ads limited to people with certain interests, location, political views, favorite media, education and relationship status.
IMO the concept of involving the user in these commercial ads sucks. Indeed it is bastardizing the community. Targeting the ads based on general information from the site is one thing but gaining access to individual member profiles and hitting them with ads based on their personal information has a hint of filth in it. Especially when the users personal data is used to generate advertising dollars. Zuckerberg talks about “the recommendation of a trusted friend” - how about my trust in you and your company when I provided you with my personal information so ONLY my friends can see it Mark?
I’m sure they view this as a brilliant idea but FaceBook needs to be cautious about using users personal information. Because of their huge user base it is probably unlikely they are going to see any backlash simply because most of their members probably won’t have a clue that their personal information is used to generate some serious ad revenues. And even if they do most folks won’t care either way. But on the other hand there are quite a few alternatives out there and all it takes is a few users defecting and taking all their friends with them.