Will Facebook Make Advertising Too Personal?

    December 18, 2011
    Chris Crum

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
Chris 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.