Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Facebook needs to try much harder for its $100bn

Facebook's valuation is - apparently - justified by how much more accurately it will be able to target folk for 'conversion' very soon.
Not a religious thing, but that greater than ever ability to spot you and sell to you that you've been waiting for (ah hem).
Our pension fund holders are really going to pile into Facebook based on last-century's ad model?

Let's review for a moment.
Facebook is not an audience. It is an aggregation of small groups of people who care about each other (mostly) and a few that circulate around brands (mostly as a badging excercise or in hope of being thrown a fish or two).
I don't know of any groups that formed to be marketed to (either on Facebook or elsewhere). Facebook could test this by setting up the 'I signed up in order to be better targeted by advertising' group and counting the likes...

The broader point is this: targeted advertising - no matter how clever - remains advertising - a broadcast bodge job being unsatisfactorily applied to a networked medium.
I'm reminded of this, from ex-Facebook employee Jeff Hammerbacher:
"The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads," he says. "That sucks."

It's a shame that Facebook's share of the big brains can't be refocused, that Facebook can't take the opportunity to build new relationships between brands and their customers, to help shape alternatives that do fit the networked model.
Where is Facebook's product suite for innovating with customers - for making customers partners with brands in pursuit of things they both care about, for example?

I thought we'd all established we don't want to be targeted, we don't want to be marketed to, we want to join in, we want to market with.

We don't want better messages - we want better things.

Of course, we've said all this before (see below). I guess it wasn't a £100bn question last time.

Seriously, Facebook, try harder. You've got an opportunity to change the future for the better, not simply hone the past.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?