By Kyle Austin
As I log into Facebook each day and quickly read through my “news feed” to see what my friends are doing (much like how “normal” people read the daily paper), I’m noticing a trend. These days news feeds are also populated by advertisers and products that want to update me on free ice cream at Ben & Jerry’sor new candy from Mike & Ike’s (Facebook’s targeted ad system must have me mixed up with a sugar-comatosed eight-year old boy).
However, I’m also noticing that a leading Web company is advertising on Facebook. You may have heard of them before, they’re called Facebook. Yes, as confusing as I made it sound, Facebook is advertising their own ad network in most user’s news feeds. My 17 year-old sister, for one, also has the image I posted above popping up in her news feeds with supporting text that says, “80 million users strong. With Facebook’s highly targeted ad system, how will you connect them? Learn here now.”
That my friends, does not equal the likelihood of a high Click-Through-Rate (CTR). I love my sister to death, but her current understanding of advertising -and interest in it- solely revolves around the latest Prada bag she bought thanks to what she saw in Cosmo.
Why to begin with is Facebook advertising its Ad Network to everyday consumers? Wouldn’t they be better suited to target the advertisements to users in the industry that actually have control over advertising budgets (or even work for a company in my sister’s case).
It really points to the bigger problem that Facebook has. Its targeted ad systems just isn’t that targeted. The company is on the right track in creating social advertising but the holy grail of the next generation ad network will be intelligently engaging in brand discussion with the right group of segmented users. Facebook needs to find a way to better target their advertisements so advertisers (including themselves apparently) will know that their product/advertisement will be recommended to a certain % of consumers that have a high likelihood of buying the product or service.
It’s all about CTR’S, which are created by getting relevant ads in front of interested users. Until they can figure this out, they might want to stop advertising their ad network all together.