Facebook Advertising Platform

November 22, 2007

A short while ago Facebook announced the release of their advertising platform. Given that I had written about that previously, and was in need of some fresh ideas for advertising the Thursday Club (side-project), I decided to give it a go.

Setting up a campaign is a pretty straightforward process. You select the criteria for your audience segmentation, starting with the geography (I’d love to have the option to select ‘World’, but you have to start at a particular country – although you can run multiple campaigns simultaneously in different countries). You can also select gender, age ranges and target keywords to further define your audience. I do like the fact that as you select each keyword you are shown a tally of the number of people that match your criteria. I’m sure someone could reverse engineer some interesting statistics out of that.

It doesn’t appear that the keywords currently include group membership, or much other than a persons direct interests.

You can then create some simple text copy (think basic Google adword style) and optionally upload a picture. If you have a company page, you can also choose to include related information from that. Finally, select how much you’d like to pay per click or per view (I chose ‘per-click’) and that’s pretty much it. You can set timeframes for your campaign and maximum spends per day.

I would recommend experimenting with the CPC rate you bid as you can go from zero impressions to many thousands through some very small adjustments. You can see the effects almost straight away. Current click-through rates are pretty low, but that may be a function of my test ad-copy too :-)

Overall though I like it. The operation is pretty much identical to how I perceived it might work, bar some limitations on granularity. It would also be nice to get some clarity on exactly where these ads show up.

I’ll let you know what affect this has on traffic to my site, but as of now (24 hours after starting) there have been 5000+ ad impressions which I don’t think is too shabby.

I’ll also be experimenting with some much more targeted ads with a small number of potential viewers.

Stay tuned!


Busy Fools

October 22, 2007

If you ask somebody nowadays how they are, what do they normally tell you? Chances are that along with the usual ‘fine’, ‘doing ok’ and ‘so so’ they’ll also say ‘busy’, ‘tired’ or ‘flat out’.

We’re all more than familiar with the increased pace of life. The always-on, always-connected life of the Blackberry addicted corporate netizens most of us have become. But do you ever stop to wonder how much of our busy schedules are really unnecessary necessities? How much time we waste, or how much is wasted by others?

I’m not talking about proper, conscious time wasting activities like reading Digg, surfing for pictures of cute kittens or writing your blog (ahem). I’m talking about being a ‘busy fool’. Attending pointless meetings, producing reams of unnecessary reports (often the same information sliced in different ways for different people), dealing with administrivia, working on projects you know are never going to work, following rules and processes just because, waiting for decisions, dealing with committees, waiting for sign-off.

Do you ever think about the things you shouldn’t be doing? Actually, not just think, I mean properly stop and consciously decide to not do something? Instead of hoping for more people in your team, or wishing in vain for a bigger budget, have you ever wondered how it’s probably possible to really do more with less (as we all keep getting told) if only the items in the ‘more’ list were actually less (but higher value).

Do you subscribe to the ‘two people in a garage’ theory but never get a chance to find out?

The trick of course is not only knowing what’s important and what’s not, but also helping to educate your organisation to allow people to focus on those items. You should be ready to not do certain things, but there’s a reasonable chance that simply saying ‘no’ will get you labeled as someone who isn’t a team player or isn’t willing to play the corporate game. So you need to be open and honest in your reasons, work upwards and downwards and keep your eyes open for inefficiencies (as an example, I seem to spend a reasonable amount of time getting person A to talk to person B having noted that they’re both working on largely the same thing. This also saves person C – me – from doing the same things a third time!).

I get very frustrated at ‘make-work’ for mediocre people and sometimes, when all else fails, you simply have to walk away. I’d like to think though that we all have a part to play before it gets to that point.

As my old physics lecturer used to say ‘if you’re going to waste your time and do nothing, you should have decided beforehand that’s what you are going to do. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time.’

What are you not going to do today?


When You’re Done With Playing Nicely On Facebook

October 16, 2007

If you fancy a change from being friendly with your mates on Facebook, why not head over to Hatebook and vent some steam? Hatebook is the equivalent of an anti-Facebook. A Yang to its Ying, where you can set up enemies lists, publish nasty stories and generally be horrible to people!

drevil.jpg

There are a number of these ‘anti’ sites popping up (including the dubiously titled ‘Jihad On You‘) and even Facebook itself offers plug-ins such as Enemybook.

So, for some good fashioned hating, you know where go. Just watch out for the flood of lawsuits that seem almost bound to follow … !


Top Ten Facebook Apps

October 10, 2007

If you’re a Facebooker you can’t have helped being spammed, err, I mean invited by your friends to install some of the third-party applications that can now be built on the platform. I’ve actually disabled almost all of the ones I installed as I was getting overwhelmed with pirates and ninjas and people throwing virtual chairs at me :-)

if you do like your FB apps though, here’s a list of the current top ten (with the developer in brackets). Apparently there are over 5000 different applications available, but only 84 of them account for over 90 percent of usage. I wonder what would happen if you tried to install all 5000?

Here’s the list. How many have you got?

1. Top Friends (Slide)
2. FunWall (Slide)
3. Super Wall (RockYou!)
4. SuperPoke! (Slide)
5. Video (Facebook)
6. X Me (RockYou!)
7. iLike
8. Movies
9. Graffiti
10. Likeness (RockYou!)
11. My Questions (Slide)
12. Quizzes
13. Mobile (Facebook)
14. Free Gifts
15. Booze Mail
16. Compare People
17. Honesty Box
18. (fluff)Friends
19. Vampires
20. Scrabulous


Blabberize

October 4, 2007

Ahh, now this is more like it! Let’s get back to some good old fashioned nonsense.

As a sure fire way to waste even more of your precious time, Blabberize is bound to be a hit! A little flaky at the moment thanks to a mention on Techcrunch, the site lets you .. well, it lets you add an animated mouth and some sound to a photo. A description doesn’t do it justice, but if you’ve seen Rove Live here in Australia you’ll recognise the effect.

Here’s our friend Mr Ballmer as an example.


Last One And I’ll Move On

October 4, 2007

Much like blogging about blogging, blogging about Facebook is also currently contributing to blocking the tubes: you can see that I’ve been just as guilty as the next person in that regard. I also wasn’t trying to create a series on Web 2.0 either, but as I have the admin power please indulge me one last time (just don’t hold me to ‘last’ ;-)).

Normal service of random nonsense will then return. Promise.

I do find this stuff interesting though, so whilst doing some random link following on the FB subject I came across a comment on Bubble Generation from one Phil Jones. Phil is a lot more eloquent than I am on this, and so I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him.

This is, to me, the essence of my platform argument below.

Phil says: “Actually, the world of Facebook apps. and widgets is the first time I’ve started to see that an old-style platform strategy may be possible. Here the basis is something which which is a hybrid of technology, namespace and social convention. Of which Facebook’s “news-feed” is the archetypal example. Facebook’s news-feed is not merely technological : which is why other generic data-sharing feeds like RSS or Twitter aren’t equivalent. It’s also a social convention within a particular namespace and community: I’m willing to look at data that an application writes on my friend’s feed, even though I haven’t installed the application or explicitly subscribed to it. This is different from the open web – I wouldn’t welcome an ordinary web-application that my friend used, randomly spamming my email. (Similarly, if too many bots started writing to Twitter, that would kill that particular community pretty damned quickly, it’s not part of its culture either.)

Facebook’s platform power ultimately rests on their ownership of this complex but delicate socio-technical hybrid. If they can nurture and grow it, such as giving both users and applications, more and subtler ways to manage it, more nuanced types of relationships between people, with more fine grained privacy control and applications that access these both through the APIs and patterns of software behaviour, then I think they have something that’s very hard to escape from or reproduce elsewhere.

This is no longer about just data, or arguments about open access to it. It’s data + social data + social conventions.”

Well said Phil!


Facebook and Social Networking Are A Fad

October 3, 2007

Or so says Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. To be fair to the king of the chair-throwers (alleged), Ballmer does say there is a risk that this is the case.

He may well be playing a clever game of toning down Microsoft’s interest in a rumoured stake in Facebook. Or he may just have missed the point entirely; particularly as he seems to be focussed just on the technology.

I’m with Scoble on this one. There will undoubtedly be a lot of consolidation and casualties to come from the plethora of social networks currently around. There will be cooler and more seamless technologies, new players and new cool toys to play with. What Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Thursday Club (sorry, gotta get a plug in :-)) and who knows what else provide though is a platform and a ready-made largely self-segmenting group of identifiable and targetable consumers.

Let me explain: the platform, when done right, offers an open and extensible opportunity for the originator and third-parties to build on and add interesting new twists based on existing data. Witness the Facebook API (although, as an aside, I think that whilst the viral nature of the applications built on the API is superb, they need to be cautious that people don’t get turned off by the sheer volume of ‘Zombie vs Pirate’ style requests. I’ve turned off most of the plug-ins – it was starting to feel too much like crappy cc’ed joke emails. But, I digress.)

Take that platform and add in millions of people who have voluntarily decided to add an advertising persons dream set of demographic data: age, sex, location, marital status, interests, pets, groups, fetishes, favourite bars, clubs, food. You name it and people on sites like Facebook are telling you about it. Or if not you, they sure are telling the automated algorithms that will shortly be feeding them targeted adverts and other useful information. Users on Digg might hate the adverts and a number of the tech-savvy may have ad-block or clever host files set-up so they don’t see them. But your mum? Your sister? The other sixty three and half million emo kids on MySpace? Pure gold if you can mine it.

So Mr Ballmer, it really doesn’t matter whether Microsoft could technically build another Facebook in a short time period (and that’s debatable, but we won’t get into that). It doesn’t even really matter that one particular platform loses some of its appeal, a’lah Friendster (which still goes great guns in Asia by the way). The methods might shift too. But the concept of the network will stay.

Final thought: I’ll bet there are people in Microsoft, lots of super-smart, super-switched on people in groups like Live banging their heads on the table thinking “We know how to do this, but we are missing the boat. Stop frigging around with politics, protecting positions, re-orgs and headcount manipulation and give us a few smart people, a long enough rope and some space and then see what happens.”

And, no, I don’t work at Microsoft :-)


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