Sumit Sharma

Facebook Ads: wow, seriously guys we need to talk….

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Today, all the ads that arise on the right hand side pane of my FB page are highly irrelevant to me. “Engineering Mgmt at Duke University” – now why  would I be interested in engineering management at Duke University?

I’d like a private one on one with FB, a rant if you will, to tell a few reasons, that come to my mind immediately, why Facebook should know better than to put up such an irrelevant ad:
1. I haven’t done anything since 2001 remotely connected to Mechanical Engineering, which was my major, and you know that because I have my career information up. You should know the nature of companies I’ve put up, and if they employed the right analytics to figure out the functions in my companies it would be a different story.
2. Duke? Why would I uproot myself to go to Carolina out of all places when it is clear that I’m a West Coast person. Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco – at least recommend a program in the bay area or in the west coast…
3. I’m going to Vegas today, and I’m online at 7am to research a few items for my daughter and nanny to occupy themselves in while my wife and I are having fun – how about considering that?! There is no excuse: You know I’m going to Vegas, its my 2nd last wall post less then 24hrs ago, you know I have a daughter and you know we have a nanny looking after my daughter because thats what my wife has been talking to her friends about on her wall.

Facebook should, instead, advertise things that are meaningful to me. For instance, I have mentioned I enjoy following Liverpool FC and the Vancouver Canucks in my profile – advertise stuff related to that. How about the fact that I posted my trip plans to Vegas this weekend – perfect time to put a Vegas related ad. How about noticing the fact that I’m blogging about Social Media and Web stuff on WordPress. If only WordPress had shared its API with LinkedIn and Facebook. Same thing with Youtube? I enjoy watching comedy videos, how about ads about that?

Here is where FB needs to improve:

1. Put some more creativity into what is driving your analytics: Analytics is one thing – you can have the best number crunching capabilities – which they probably do – but if you don’t have the right direction, insight and strategic vision then whats the point?  How hard is it to understand context when placing ads? Establishing context is infinitely complex, however there are a few ways you can start to do it: Examine recent wall posts, take my information seriously (career, interests, movies, music etc)

2. collaborate with other popular entities such as Twitter to learn more about me. The very fact that FB is trying to advertise about career related goals begets why LinkedIn and Facebook need each other. They complement each other and provide a platform for more educated guesses.

3. Stop taking short cuts to get to know me and my needs. IF you really want meaningful user experiences then quit selling out for quick money. Put some energy, sweat and blood – it will pay off one day. Trust me, the moment I feel that there is another social network out there that does something more than just connect me with people, a majority of whom, are quite irrelevant to me anyways (no offense to all my FB friends but those that are truly relevant to me make up less then a third of my friends), I’ll switch in a jiffy. And I also don’t feel that switching costs are going to be that high – interoperability is going to be the name of the game, a wave of pseudo-consolidation will be happening left right and center because the customer will demand more value out of social networks, and value will arise from breadth of data, let me be clear, not amount of data, but breadth of data. Is there an aggregation entity that knows what I’m up to in LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Amazon.com and Yelp? Imagine the possibilities that could arise if there was an application that presented several possibilities in the form of products, career options and content recommendations. So coming back to my point of the need for FB to get it right and how they’ll need to avoid shortcuts and actually put some effort in…what exactly do I have in mind…how about using the Music Genome Project’s efforts and intention as an example. Imagine if FB lead an initiative to construct genes of various entities, all in an effort to better understand our actions, why we do stuff and characteristics of us and the various products and services we access.

4. Related to my third point:
Understand what time of the day it is – would I seriously be interested in Engineering management at 7am on a Saturday morning, the morning I’m going to Vegas!?!? My broad point here is that there is much more to context

If facebook made some more effort in the right areas, I’m sure things would be less frustrating for users like me who want some relevance in what is presented. I’m sure that, if not now, if not soon, it will eventually happen – that users will being to demand more quality and relevance…a more favourable return on attention.

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Written by Sumit

January 20, 2010 at 8:19 am

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