Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Butting Out - The Merits of Not Getting in the Way

Facebook is fast becoming as central to social networking as actual conversation once was. If you are feverishly checking your account every five minutes, then you know of what I speak. As our lives become more and more segmented, it’s good to know that at least you have pictures of that guy who ate paste in the back of class in grade 3, and are privy to his exact thoughts on his new Mitsubishi Gallant

How exactly does Facebook intend to make money off this type of information? Because apparently they intend to make a lot of money.

The recent Microsoft purchase of a 1.6% share of Facebook for $241 million, values the company at a whopping $15 billion!

Facebook has unveiled a new advertising system called Socialads. Facebook founder-cum-Harvard dropout, Mark Zuckerberg, says it will revolutionize advertising by “getting into the conversations” between people. Essentially, what Facebook has is an ever expanding list of potential consumers, and their specific interests, which is invaluable for advertisers.

Although the future of advertising seems to be veering towards social networking sites, media buyers are wary stating results showing that consumer behavior on a communication device is anathema to advertising. Look at the click through rates for the social networking sites. Facebook has a 0.04% click thru rate, that’s 400 hits for every million viewers. Myspace fares a little better at 0.10%, but the figures still seem pretty measly.

Their intention is to enact a word of mouth effect between people. (Often heralded as the Holy Grail of advertising). The problem is that any sort of intrusion into people’s conversation is just that, an intrusion into a conversation. Regard how well you’d receive advertising when you’re in a bar with your friends and a stranger comes up to you trying to sell you a new type of beer. “Hey friends don’t want to bother you but do you know that the beer you’re drinking is not as good as this one.”

A better and far less intrusive option for advertising your company is in the search engines. Search engines are used for everything from local sites to multinational conglomerates. By ranking prominently in the organic search engine results (requiring Search Engine Optimization aka SEO) and Pay Per Click advertising campaign services (Google Adwords etc.), the consumer is actively transported to your company. If one were to use the keywords “advertising advice Montreal”, why they’d be transported to the Starmedia blog in a timely fashion and end up reading this exact post.

Search engine advertising gives you visibility without the intrusion.