One of the traditional kingpins of mass marketing – the Television – is slowly beginning to see the light shining from the modern advertising revolution. The 6 big cable companies in the US are teaming up to develop a customized and targeted ad system, paving the way for potentially lucrative advertising deals that can target ads based on a viewer’s viewing habits and demographics, giving the viewer a much more relevant and contextual ad viewing experience.
Now how does this relate to Facebook? Well, the goal of any advertising platform is to produce relevant ads that are in line with each individual’s interests and demographics. It’s in the advertiser’s best interest to maximize the relevance of the ad for each user, as forcing a 25-year-old male bachelor to watch a commercial on teen fashion products is pretty damn inefficient.
But in order to optimize efficiency, the more information that is available about the user, the more the ad can be targeted to his or her interests. And who is best positioned to have a complete view into the details surrounding every individual’s life? Yes – Facebook.
Social networks are unique in that users frequently volunteer many details about their day-to-day activities and social connections, not to mention they provide detailed demographic information (education, age, political views, relationship status, etc.). Whoever owns this data has the ability to leverage it to build a very powerful advertising system. I’d imagine Facebook will first use this data to build an ad platform internal to Facebook – but there’s nothing stopping them from then going one step further to license this information to 3rd parties, whether it be CNN.com or a new TV-advertising platform (I know, I know, that privacy point again). Google’s grip on contextually-based online advertising is about to face another dimension in the advertising wars. And don’t you think Google has realized this disturbing fact?
Now to address the privacy police. Of course Facebook, Google, and anyone else who owns private customer information would not dare to release it without the user’s consent. No one is disputing that fact. But as with any market-driven solution – Facebook et al.
must will come up with an incentive so that it’s in the user’s best interest to make their demographic information available (individual identities will remain private, of course, so this scenario is quite feasible). Those who choose to remain anonymous can do so, but their personal experience will be limited, and most will end up consenting so as not to disrupt their experience.
This mutually beneficial relationship will drive unmatched efficiencies in modern advertising. You’re a 25-year-old male who just bought a new pair of skis? Let me show you an ad for Whistler promoting the powdered ski slopes and the happening party scene. Swap the 25-year-old to a 55-year-old and we’ll instead contrast the powdered slopes with some fancy dining and relaxing amenities. This will all be done automatically and will drive ad relevance and positioning to new extremes.
It’s an exciting time to be a part of the modern advertising revolution.