Facebook wrapping ads in news story format, just for you

Facebook tested a similar product to Groupon and LivingSocial. It offered discounts on concerts, group activities, and wine tastings. Its focus was on socializing and mainly featured local businesses. Ads came by email and in the news feed in Facebook test cities. The campaign failed and was pulled August 2011 without explanation.

They have a new plan. Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook says that Facebook will include advertising in its newsfeed. Facebook will choose ads based on your interests. She says “… everything we do is about making the world more social and creating more personalized experiences…” Her rationale is “In a more connected world, advertisers are social too. This gives you the chance to connect to the companies and brands you like and learn more about their products and services. We believe that more personalized social advertising complements the ways that people use Facebook every day—to discover, share and connect with the people and the world around them. Whether it's a new car, a local dentist or a t-shirt, many of the things you discover on Facebook come from your friends. Just as advertising has changed the experience of searching on the web, we think advertisers are a meaningful part of the social graph and the online experience as a whole.”

Facebook’s program links you to companies you ‘like’. The ads will be written in a news format and run with your news feed. And, no, you cannot turn them off. Facebook promises it will send you “relevant and interesting advertising content” as it “protects your privacy completely”.

Regardless of a user’s privacy controls companies and brands can now exchange private messages with users. Facebook says that “This allows for much deeper consumer interaction, and will also enable company or brand page managers to take extended customer inquiries off the Timeline and into a private message”. “…deeper consumer interaction” that is the goal. In the privacy of your messages, accessible formerly only to trusted friends, advertisers now romp and play.

USA Today,March 1, 2012 page 1B, in an article by Scott Martin announces (do you hear the trumpet blast) that “Facebook embarks on ad evolution “. The motivation is, according to this article, that “Facebook wants friends on Madison Avenue”. Facebook’s stated motivation is to help us connect on a deeper level with advertisers. Martin says its real motivation is to connect with Wall Street and by extension, our wallets. Martin quotes Richard LeFugy, former chairman of internet advertising as saying “It’s a concrete demonstration that Facebook wants to have a presence on Madison Avenue.” These ads will be seen on your mobile devices too.

Does Facebook’s “evolution” have anything to do with the fact that Pinterest has recently analyzed the way women shop? We build a relationship first, get to know each other, and then buy. This new Facebook approach echoes that.

If you pursue a video presented news story chances are that you will be forced to watch video ads before your story appears. Last night I pumped gas, and there it was, at eye level a screen that blasted out ads at me. If those few moments alone pumping gas are no longer ‘mine’ what is this world coming to? Try to watch your favorite television show and you will be fed a copious diet of advertiser selling their products.

Drive a freeway and you will be assailed by standard billboards and lighted signs with moving dialogue or changing pictures. Unable to resist the advertising dollars Facebook will now feed ads to you that it decides are “relevant and interesting”. They excuse this by deducting it is a natural extension of a more connected world. And you want to be connected doncha? Well doncha?

The thing with Facebook is that if you do not like what they are doing, wait a month and it will change. Let’s hope this falls within that category.

When did this faux news packaged advertising begin? Today.

 

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