Could Beacon be the new AdWords?

07Nov07

I read FB’s announcement yesterday and thought it was mildly interesting: getting companies to create their own profiles on FB and then allowing them to place “Social Ads” next to feed entries that (organically) relate to a company’s product or service. Nice ideas but (1) the company-with-profile isn’t really a new concept, and (2) the prevalence of feeds that happen to relate to a given advertiser’s offering seems dubious.

However, I read further detail this morning (from WSJ via paidContent):

Marketers will be able to infuse their ad messages into the activity of Facebook users. For example, a Facebook user who buys a movie ticket, makes travel plans or writes an online restaurant review on a participating Web site will receive a message asking if they want to share their action with their Facebook “friends.” (If the answer is yes, their friends will see the action and an ad like it or not.)

The code that a “participating Web site” can embed is called Beacon. It thus allows FB to capture various data points of preference outside facebook.com. If Zuckerberg & Co. can attract significant participation, this has the potential to be huge and, in my opinion, game-changing. People are often (not always) proud of certain purchase and consumption decisions. So while this may not work for dish soap (or maybe it could, e.g Method anyone?) it would seem a very nice fit for those sorts of products and services that people use to define themselves:

  • media (film, TV, music, books, magazines)
  • clothing
  • cars
  • furniture
  • restaurants and bars (I def would expect a partnership with Yelp)

And so forth. I’m really interested to see how this pans out. But, at first blush, I think this could be big.

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