Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Customized Advertising on Facebook

Facebook currently offers a self-service system that allows advertisers to design their own ads and tailor them to Facebook users. The advertisers can take full advantage of all the personal information users provide on their profiles. They can then aim their ad "toward finely segmented groups of Facebook's 400 million members, based on gender, age, location and preferences like favorite movies and activities." Facebook users will then see ads that are specifically targeted toward them based on some of the personal information they provided. This may seem like a very efficient way to reach consumers, but the technology is being abused by many advertisers.

The current problem on Facebook, is that many advertisers send customized ads to users, but the actual product or service being offered has nothing to do with the content in the ad. Some ads will also start with a hook that is related to a user's preferences, but the rest of the ad will be totally unrelated. An example that exhibits both of these poor advertising practices targeted people who had listed that they were fans of Eddie Izzard. The ad said, "Are you a fan of Eddie Izzard? We need 100 music and movie lovers to test and KEEP the new iPad." Not only does testing an iPad have nothing to do with Eddie Izzard, but clicking on the ad took users to, a site that does not offer iPads for testing, keeping, or anything.

Facebook is trying to crack down on abuses like this, and it is imperative that they do so in order to attract legitimate advertisers. Users who are burned by ads like the Eddie Izzard iPad illusion, are likely to lose faith in all Facebook ads. As we talked about in our class lecture on customer service, the creator of a product or service is responsible for customer service of all the channels and collaborators that handle its product/service. Facebook is definitely responsible for the actions of its advertisers, and will be the one to suffer if these deceptive abuses continue. Users will stop clicking on ads, and legitimate companies will pull their advertisements.

John Gardner, Section E

"Ads Posted on Facebook Strike Some as Off-Key" New York Times. 3 March 2010.

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