Facebook Ad Connect Coming Soon?

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
Rich Tehrani
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Facebook Ad Connect Coming Soon?

Last week I detailed 11 things Facebook needs to do with their $1.5B but in terms of rapid revenue production the #1 item on the list should have been developing a Google Adsense competitor. In the last year or so Google has modified how it shows ads, taking into account search behavior before presenting an offer. This can lead to some interesting side-effects. For example, when I was in a meeting with a prominent company in the communications space, someone asked me why an ad for dresses is showing on TMCnet - I had to explain how Google uses past search behavior to show ads. Thankfully the question came from a woman. It did lead to an interesting discussion and in some cases can even be embarrassing. For example I am familiar with someone browsing a tech site who saw an ad for mail order brides.

Nonetheless, this targeting has the potential to make ads more effective - not in every case but the more ad distribution networks know about you, the better. And Facebook may know as much about you as anyone. And if they parlay this information into a Facebook Connect style interface where websites tap into Facebook to distribute more targeted ads, it becomes a game changer.

And as the company gets massive take up with its Like button and Connect initiative - the roll out of Facebook Ad Connect has to be around the corner.

I wrote about Yahoo and Google's behavioral targeting strategies in April of 2007 and in the article I mentioned how concerned privacy advocates will be as Google utilizes more behavioral targeting. Moreover I said it will be difficult for other companies to challenge the vast warehouse of personal information Google has amassed about us.

What a difference four years makes as Facebook seems to be in a similar if not better position than Google when it  comes to amassing a database of personal information and interests. It seems quite plausible that Facebook can become the ad network of choice in the future if they can leverage their data warehouse to create the most accurate advertising targeting platform.

In other words, when reading this blog entry - if Facebook were to be powering the ads, you could see offers which are more relevant to your user profile and Facebook interests than to topics which relate to the words on this page. Moreover, you may see ads which are targeted with respect to what percentage of your friends have acquired the same product or service.

In other words, just living near Buffalo Wild Wings wouldn't be a solid enough reason to show you an ad for the company. But if some of your friends are customers and/or have "liked" the restaurant on Facebook, you may see a large quantity of ads for the chain.

In the end, context is crucial when displaying advertising. for example, when I am reading an article about the iPhone 4 coming to Verizon - that is the perfect time to present an ad for iPhone apps or accessories. If Facebook can augment advertising in context with preferences and social media circle data, it could boost relevancy and subsequently click rates.

And this is where the future battles will be waged in the world of online advertising... How will advertising networks of the future become smarter and use data such as location and your behavior to entice you with offers. The goal of the marketer is to recreate the impulse item mentality of the grocery store where gum and razor blades are flashed before before willing customers while they wait to ring up their groceries.

And there is no doubt technology to improve advertising effectiveness will continue to evolve pitting Facebook squarely against Google in the battle for the most accurate behavioral targeting platform.

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