Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Facebook - What are you doing??


Browsing Facebook late last night, and this was the first thing that splatted up (full sized version here):

Untargeted Advertising

For all Facebook's mis-steps the one thing they should be really good at is targeted advertising. They know more about you then anymore. They know what you like, they know who you like, heck they've even ransacked your address book! (without asking your permission, of course)

Which is why I'm surprised to see them pitching me a Nutri Centre Luxury Goody Bag. Look I'll lay it out straight - I'm an early-thirties middle class male. I like playing video games. I've recently regressed back to childhood and started building model tanks. I'm a (very) occasional roller-hockey player.

I have no idea what the main COLOUR of the label for Wild Rose and Lemon Leaf Deodorant is.

And Facebook know that. But given all that, the best their cutting-edge algorithms can come up with is the fact that a guy I was at uni with over a decade ago likes Tesco (he's a hot-shot PR so he'll probably like anything for a fee), and therefore Tesco should spam me with a generic, utterly untargeted Nutri Centre Luxury Goody Bag?

Now to be fair, it could be Tesco's fault. Maybe they told the Facebook sales rep "Nah we don't want the uber targeted advertising which hits exactly the people who want to buy their products and who live near their stores on the day do their weekly shop. Let's just spam everybody with Nutri-Bags."

And to be fair their ad has good screen coverage (albeit on a low-res 11.6" panel). I calculate that the main ad covers 18.4% of the screen, and the little one on the side covers another 4.6%. In contrast the banner ad at the top of the Daily Telegraph page only covers 6.3% of the screen. But if Facebook's strategy to boost their ARPU is to simply spam four times as much screen real-estate as their competitors, then they have a real problem.

Edit: And my wife also keeps getting adverts for spamming her mobile Facebook. Why Facebook would think a Soil Mechanics PhD student would be interested in a buying an SME-focused SaaS CRM platform is entirely beyond me... #dataminingfail

Facebook's Innovation Gap

But I think its more likely that Facebook simply haven't got their act together. One problem I identified a while back is Facebook seem to have dropped the ball on the innovation front. Their App Platform has stagnated pretty much since Farmville. And I was always bemused why it took them so long to bring out a (not very good) iPad app.

This feels like the same thing - they should have built a killer kick-ass advertising engine. Maybe they're getting there with the launch of Ad Exchange and a new stealth ad network.

But if this is the current State of the Art for the Facebook Platform, I can see why their ARPU is only a fraction of Google's.

Right back to working on Bloomberg!

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