Despite the obvious popularity of facebook, their future rests on two factors, both of which lie partly out of their control.
The first is their ability to make money from a great idea. The web may have changed the delivery method and reach of interesting ideas, but the fundamental law of business still applies. Profit is required.
The second is their position as King. Facebook isn’t new, but has been flavour of the month for years now. Yet history teaches us that crowds are fickle and tastes change. I still remember when AltaVista was yesteryear’s Google, when MySpace was the new way and when portable music meant carrying a huge plastic ghetto blaster or boombox.
My main reservation with facebook advertising isn’t so much that it interrupts, but more that it’s invisible.
We’re so used to seeing advertising through our browser that it no longer registers. Quantity has rendered it useless.
Google AdWords works because people go to Google looking for a solution to their problem, and the ads show them what they’re looking for.
When people log in to their facebook accounts, however, they’re not looking for a solution to a problem. They want to see what their friends are up to or to share pictures and snippets of their lives.
I am, however, a data and control addict, and the targeting capabilities of facebook are incredibly appealing, so I’ve setup a small experiment to see how well Facebook advertising can work.
I’m targeting software developers in the UK and US (try doing that in AdWords) and have committed enough of a budget to get a feel for how it works.
The campaign has been running for 10 hours, and so far has generated over 7,000 impressions and no clicks whatsoever.
It’s early days yet, and I’m going to give it at least a week before even attempting to draw any conclusions. But so far… well let’s wait and see.
Update: 11,000 impressions and one click – a 0.009% CTR. But this isn’t AdWords and might actually work.
Later: 40,000 impressions and 4 clicks. I’m most interested in what these people are going to do though…