Retailers feast on free Facebook tools, shun ads

Comments (1)
MobLdave wrote:

Ah, you mean eyeballs don’t automatically equal profits!??

This reminds me of the “China fallacy” of novice business plans — you know, if we only get 1% penetration of this massive market, we’ll make zillions of dollars”.

That, essentially, is what FB is banking upon, and in my view the prospects are dubious.

People are not shopping and not researching when they go to FB. The idea that they will notice & act upon ads in the periphery, even if targeted to their personal profile is intuitively an extremely low incidence event. Search on the other hand, is by definition more like to deliver click-throughs and sales (folks are researching future purchases or trying to actually make them online).

The idea that I will make purchase decisions based on what my friends may or may not be saying on FB is over-blown. Think about it: what are the chances that someone on my Friends list has recently commented on washers or garage door openers at the same time I happen to be shopping for those items? Sure, I could ask for recommendations, but I’d rather get quantitative ratings from a site like BizRate, Consumer Reports, or Yelp (even if I believe they are partially rigged).

Direct Marketing to me, based on my profile holds some promise for FB, but the hype of hyper-targeting based on my detailed profile & preferences outstrips the likely reality. For one thing, I’d have to give my permission to receive offers via email or direct FB message in order for them to get my attention — and I’m unlikely to give such permission and further clutter my inbox.

Separate from opting in, I’m (as a Baby Boomer) wise-ing up, and becoming less and less like to share personal info, or even opinions online, that Big Brother, or Big Advertiser can access, store for eternity. The advertisers say they are simply helping me get exposed to things I like. The flip side is I buy things I don’t need, and worse, personal info can be used against me (it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get me).

Creepy corporate behavior such as this by FB is also related to the idea that nowadays, Big = Evil. In terms of consumer perception, Big banks are evil. Big government is evil. Microsoft became evil (back when they were relevant). Even the brand images “Do No Evil” Google and “treat workers in China badly” Apple have suffered. FB’s novelty and persona as a start-up made it appealing and harmless. We see now that the IPO marks the day that the Dark Side starts to influence internal behavior at FB.

No doubt Social Media is a true phenomenon, and there are a lot of discussions going on, and people are being influenced in many ways — politically, artistically, intellectually, trivially. But perhaps the commercialization/monetization of it is less than how it has been characterized. In fact, it is when users become more irritated by the advertisers cluttering the screen and invading privacy outweighs the benefits of using FB that the decline begins. Or even if I’m not irritated, I’m just bored. The survey said fully one-third found the information on FB “not relevant” or “boring”. FB could decline just because humans may discover that real life is superior to online life.


Jun 15, 2012 5:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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