Facebook advertising will not grow too fast too long

facebookI have been looking at the countless ads & “LikeUs” banners that keep popping up on my Facebook account and I am tempted to feel that all this jubilant rejoice about the advertising/branding power of social networks might just be a temporary phenomenon. I feel that there would be a fatigue soon & think there are multiple sources for that to creep in.

  1. Almost every big brand & local business seems to have its own page on Facebook. This means that the number of brands competing for your attention online, in all probability include all the brands you live with. This would make the CPC/CPM rates go high. Bidding and ad placement is not contextual- its only demographic targeted. Local and small businesses will not be able to participate for long, they can just hope to do a small time campaign to get few “fans” on their pages.
  2. Little or No Context. The fact that Google ads grew so fast was that they could figure out what you were searching/reading/browsing & hence target brands/products/services relevant to that. I think Facebook has a serious limitation here. Most users, I suspect use it to track what friends are thinking/doing and in a smaller # of cases they would be looking at pages relevant to hobbies or for information about places/brands etc. Facebook would have to change this behaviour the other way round to build sustainable advertising revenues.
  3. Advertising OverLoad. I think with most brands embracing Facebook, an average user might now be following five times as many businesses & brands as she did last year. But I can safely assume that her time on Facebook & specifically on brand pages has not increased proportionately. Are you really spending so much time tracking all the brands you follow on Facebook? Not just the time & attention, there is a genuine problem of discovery also- the same issue that most mobile app stores face once they grow too big. How do you keep track of  all the updates from all the brands.
  4. No proxies for customer profile. When we advertise on the net, chances are we can do some sane assumptions about who would see the ad. E.g. if I look at MoneyControl, I can be confident that many of these customers would be active investors in the Equity market & hence probably a good target for a broking firm. There is no such proxy on the social network giant. How do I get similar info on Facebook – Say income bracket etc. I have seen college kids subscribe to luxury brands and it must be a big worry for the marketing manager there to understand how the clicks he pays for are done by relevant people only.
  5. Decreasing value of ThumbsUp. There was a time when I would have noticed/opened/read most of the likes done my some of my friends on Facebook. With the new flood of likes, I have my own sense of distrust and feel that any of us like too many things/updates. If this is Facebook’s entrypass for brands into each user’s network, the value is fast decreasing. Most users would not honor the “Likes” of their friends as they used to before.

Well I have nothing against Mark or the biggest virtual country that has been created, but I sincerely hope some of these issues are being addressed by those smart boys back in the Valley. I would really want to see FaceBook become and stay a stable advertising medium.