I just read WIRED’s article titled Facebook Ads Make You the Star — And You May Not Know It. I had started to see Social Ads in use but the uproar over Beacon and related privacy concerns seems to have overshadowed the discussion.
WIRED’s Megan McCarthy writes:
According to Facebook, a user has to take a “social action” in order to trigger the appearance of their name and picture in an advertisement. According to Facebook spokesperson Brandee Barker, that could be almost any activity that the user does on Facebook, “such as the download of an application and the acceptance of a friend request.” It could also include becoming a “fan” of a business by clicking a link on that company’s Facebook page.
We all knew that advertising would make the cash register ring at Facebook. As Colin Mackay said recently at The Canadian Institute Conference on Social Media (where we both presented) “Did you really think that the folks at Facebook were just being nice when they created a free platform that lets you see and message all your friends and family?” That being said, I suspect not many (even industry pundits) could have envisioned the controversy surrounding the ad model Facebook developed. From what I understand through the article, there is no way to opt-out of the Social Ad model for users at this time.
While I am a huge fan of social networks and Facebook in particular, I fear that new advertising tactics may push the limits of what is deemed acceptable and dampen the spirit that brought people there to begin with. And, ultimately turn people off of advertising even more than they already are.
As an individual, my advice to Facebook is to dedicate more time and effort to communicate in plain language (without the legal jargon) how their advertising platforms will involve users and what options are available. And, as a marketer, I wonder if there is a real lift in response from employing Social Ads versus the old standard banner ads? Is it really worth the furor and the potential loss of users?