Will Facebook Make Advertising Too Personal?

By: Chris Crum - December 18, 2011

Online advertising is growing. Facebook is getting more personal. What does this mean for users being targeted by advertisers?

Share your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that third quarter revenues from online advertising are up 22% year-over-year. Here’s a look at the trend:

IAB Q3 Revenue Chart

Facebook is becoming an increasingly attractive channel for businesses. Part of it has to do with the fact that 800 million people use Facebook. Part of it has to do with the incredible targeting opportunities that come along with those users and all of the information they share. MerchantCircle shared this infographic looking at where local merchants are spending their marketing dollars.

local marketing

Notice where Facebook is at. And how long do you think it’s going to be behind print – especially once Facebook starts offering mobile ads.

Oh yeah, by the way, Facebook is going to start offering mobile ads, probably ahead of its IPO. The company is already sitting on a $3.5 billion pile of money. How much do you think mobile ads will help?

Facebook was already expected to leapfrog Microsoft in ad spend this year, without mobile.

ads market share

Again, Facebook has some really good targeting capabilities, and this is something they continue to expand on. They recently added topic targeting to the mix, but they let advertisers really drill down into interest and “likes”. If I’m a fan of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” merchandisers can target me with products related to the show. T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.

That’s already pretty powerful. Add mobile to the equation, and then physical location will likely come into play as well. At that point, if you own a brick and mortar store that sells these items, and you’re nearby, you can target me based on that (in theory).

Now, Facebook has launched the Timeline, encouraging users to put their entire lives on Facebook. Keep giving Facebook more and more information about yourself, including your past. Facebook ad targeting is already based on what users put on their profiles. Well, the timeline is the profile, and Facebook’s goal is for you to share more and more. Why stop at what you did today, or what you’re doing now. Share anything you want dating back to your birth. I can’t imagine the advertising potential of something like this.

Perhaps I put a dentist appointment on my timeline. Maybe dentists can advertise to me when I’m due for a teeth cleaning. Let’s say a loved one passes away. Facebook has a feature for this with the Timeline.

Facebook timeline feature

Are we going to see ads for funeral homes popping up? Would this be ok? It sounds kind of creepy and disrespectful, but on the other hand, this is indeed when you might require such services.

Here’s what the timeline looks like on mobile devices:

Facebook mobile timeline

For more on the timeline and where to go to set it up, go here.

Is the combination of the timeline and coming mobile ads from Facebook going to make advertising too personalized, or will it make Facebook ads more useful? Tell us what you think.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://www.collegeofpublicspeaking.co.uk Vince Stevenson

    I think it’s important to sit down and think about what you want from Facebook, both as a user and as a potential marketer. Facebook pages, friends and likes are beginning to have a greater bearing on SEO relevance, so now is the time to develop your strategy. Good luck and remember that you can opt out at any time from social media… Regards Vince

  • http://www.jlquiropractico.com Quiropractico

    I have tried advertising with Facebook as a Chiropractor but found it too unfocussed compared to Google ads. I think it will always be hard in this respect for Facebook as people don’t really use it for finding things/solving problems as much as google.
    It obviously is still huge traffic and can work – I just think for small businesses it can be difficult.

  • http://www.go-travelguides.com/ Grey Olltwit

    I find all these figures very misleading as many of the features of place, local stores etc., are only really fully working in the USA. Facebook cannot keep making this sweeping statement that it has 800 million active users when the entire population of the USA is currently 313 million. Factor in that a quarter of that population is aged 19 and under and never mind the percentage of those aged 85 and above. So what is a more realistic figure for actual active USA users?

  • Candide43130

    First, I’m a little leery of accepting Merchantcircle.com as a source for information on its much bigger competitors. Secondly, I’m just waiting for the first invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by someone who felt that the “personalized” ads presented to him were inappropriate and caused him embarrassment or financial loss when it popped up in front of his boss.

  • http://www.eufreeads.com EuFreeAds

    The trend is now on Facebook gaining more and more popularity as well as attracting more members. If we look back a few years ago (4 years when I heard of Facebook for the first time) one can hardly believe it has come to this level. Hardly can you see anybody who doesn’t have a Facebook account.

    I guess this is the more reason why some smart enterprenuers have seen a way and the potential to make money with Facebook.

    It may become too personal if you initially set up your Facebook account to connect with family and friends which is the major function and then you start to connect with businesses. Others might in that case get the knowledge of what you have been up to.

  • Dane Silver

    These numbers published by Merchant Circle can not be right! We are big online advertisers using both PPC and Social (FB) across multiple categories. As a trial we have run new retail campaigns exclusively on FB with nominal success. We pop the ads on Google and WHAMMO, sales kick through. For this reason, Google retains 80% of our online spend. FB may be good for branding into niche markets, however Google remains the gig for people looking to translate marketing dollars into sales.

  • DougC

    I tried advertising on Facebook and found some very disturbing things happened. When I chose US, UK, South Africa and India as countries to advertise in and bid 50cents a click, all I got was traffic from India, none from the other countries. So I removed India from my list then all the traffic I got was from South Africa. Next I cut my list down to just the US and guess what, I got NO traffic at all for 50 cents a click, not even 75 cents, not even $1.

    Now this was about 18 months ago so I’m not sure they are still doing this but be careful advertising on Facebook.

  • http://www.servicecentral.com.au Service

    I too don’t feel that the figures really mash up with what we’re seeing in the real world.

    Our experience is that local businesses are very unlikely to be advertising on Facebook, and that even group deals are low down on the list compared with traditional directories and classifieds.

    It would be interesting to see this same graph done by actual spend by local businesses. I think it would be a very different picture.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com CaptainCyberzone

    Just In: Interesting comment concerning SOPA

    Aaron Dykes
    December 18, 2011

    Leading GOP candidate Ron Paul has warned in recent interviews that the amendments passed in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are not only dangerous, but authorize the establishment of total martial law inside the United States. Not only does the bill, in sections 1031 and 1032, declare the unconstitutional right to detain Americans indefinitely without trial, but it authorizes an Internet offensive and online Pentagon takeover under the pretext of cybersecurity and stopping online piracy.

    Yes, America has been declared a battlefield, and average Americans portrayed as potential enemies. One front of that battle continues to be the 2012 elections, where a real battle of ideas is underway.

    • http://www.freedomoffshore.com/dualcitizenship.html Obtain Dual Citizenship

      Yes, the move is toward less privacy on Face Book also which will then allow Face Book to be accessed by government powers to obtain personal information about a poster who is not “politically correct”. It is these kinds of people who will wind up in the concentration camps.

  • http://www.wsd.co.il Aviran

    When my finance and I had the “engaged” in relationship, there were always adversites for engaged people, too personal? yes.

  • http://www.smartwritings.com Samuel Jones

    I think this move is what the current marketing strategies need-Getting your product to the right people rather than having your ads reaching a wide spectrum that is not relevant.

  • http://www.thevoiceontelecom.blogspot.com Beacon

    Vince Stevenson> You make some good points. Documenting your whole life online is not without its pitfalls. All too often people post personal information online without a moments hesitation.

    Targeted advertising based on your interests or ‘likes’ has the potential to be a wonderful service but there are moral considerations.

    Users will continue to criticize Facebook until they are transparent about how the information they store is used. When user don’t know their imagination can get out of control.

    It would be nice to see Facebook become more responsible and more transparent in 2012.


  • http://www.myfaiytalebooks.com Personalized Books

    I personally think personalized ads are much better than none-targeted ads. At least this way if you have to see an ad it is targeting your interest!