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Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The Biggest Problems I see With Facebook's Social Ads Program:

1. Anyone can publish a Facebook *Page* claiming your brand identity
2. Getting your Facebook identity to the top of the Search Results
3. Controlling the level of personal user details shared with advertisers (on/off/restricted)
4. The "You have to put up with ads because Facebook is provided free" argument
5. Stupid users and stupid advertisers will ruin the Facebook experience for the rest of us.

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Engagement & The Future Of Online Advertising

The long-awaited announcement yesterday from Facebook detailing their new Social Ads program raises lots of interesting questions. According to guest columnist Mark Kingdom over at GigaOM there are three important trends that will shape online consumer behaviour over the next few years: time and place shifting, cause consumption and management of multiple identities. If anything I think he's understated the problems facing getting advertisers and consumers connected. But I totally agree with managing multiple identities.

Probably the biggest benefit and as I will explain, the biggest drawback to heavily targeted ads on Facebook is the amount of personal information users disclose to their trusted Facebook friends. Originally the intent with disclosing this information is to draw commonalities with casual and close friends. Since Facebook allows you to limit who views your Profile, there is little reason to hold back. One day soon, Facebook will let users segment their friends into even tighter sub-groups: real friends, co-workers, family and quite possibly annoying people you meet at parties. Each group will see less and less details of your personal life as the need arises. Drunk "friend adding" will become more common once you can set a default barebones Profile view.

However this all comes at a price. Once social advertising becomes more visible, Facebook users will start limiting the level of detail they allow to be openly shared with advertisers. If Facebook themselves don't allow some level of user controls, then people will start revealing less about their interests and activities. And there's the rub, at the end of the day people congregate on Social Networking sites to connect up with their friends and share interests. They really don't want someone else peeking over their shoulder. Even if the peeking is being done by a *trusted* brand.

Relevant, targeted advertising is a great opportunity, but when applied in an online environment "intent to buy" is always going to be a subjective activity. Just because I list David Bowie as a favourite artist doesn't mean I want to be deluged with ads letting me know about every new Bowie product. I expect that when I visit

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