Last week, social media titan Facebook announced that it would be embarking on an ambitious new advertising strategy, designed to fully transition prime time advertising from television to social media. Facebook will begin selling 15-second video spots for advertisers to showcase products on their social network sometime later this year.
This move would give advertisers the ability to target Facebook’s approximately 1.15 billion users directly, either through advertisements embedded into their News Feeds in a manner reminiscent of friend updates, or through a video that all users would have to watch before accessing their accounts. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not yet announced which of these two formats the company will use.
If the News Feed option is chosen, it is likely that users will see one ad for every 20 updates, which would comprise roughly five percent of a user’s entire News Feed. If Facebook chooses the log in option, the results would likely be similar to the model of pay wall advertising, in which readers looking to gain access to specific online content would have to watch a video beforehand.
Leading industry figures have met this news with varying degrees of skepticism. In a panel discussion hosted by The Today Show, Donny Deutsch, Chairman of Deutsch Inc., announced that this maneuver marked “the beginning of the end for Facebook.” He isn’t alone in this opinion. Many people, from industry pundits to simple site users, have articulated their intense disapproval of the new policy. Mr. Deutsch claims that the introduction of highly intrusive ads violates the fundamental purpose of a social network: bringing people and ideas together. By introducing outside advertisements, there is an inherent fragmentation of this experience, which many believe will detract from the overall user experience that Facebook offers.
However, this complaint may fall on deaf ears, simply due to the enormous revenue potential that it holds. Olivia Devereux, Tier10’s Media Director who happens to have 20 years of experience in strategic media buying, believes that the new policy has the potential to provide enormous gains for certain advertisers.
“It could make sense for national advertisers, depending on their demographic targets,” commented Devereux, “because it could potentially put them directly in front of the right people.”
However, Devereux also stresses that, despite the enormous advertising opportunity and potential revenue stream that could be generated by the site’s aforementioned 1.15 billion users, it could also turn many people off of Facebook.
“These modifications could damage Facebook’s appeal,” said Devereux. “However, we’ve put up with continued privacy invasions and policy changes from Facebook before, so opinions will largely reflect the level of integration that Facebook possesses in each user’s life. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Ultimately, Zuckerberg has declared that Facebook will be highly attentive to the reactions of users to the new policy. As the service has yet to be unveiled, it remains to be seen whether or not users will be able to adapt and live with it, or whether they will make their contempt for the service known by deactivating their accounts.