Facebook has work to do if it wants to catch Google


Sometimes I enjoy relevant advertising because it actually helps me discover things I truly am interested in. Google’s relevant adverts on blogs are usually pretty good because they have so many keywords to go on, and since I’m usually reading tech blogs, tech-related ads are displayed. I’ve clicked on quite a few.

On the other hand, I find Facebook adverts utterly useless. They are NEVER relevant to me, and I have in all honesty never clicked on a Facebook ad. I’ve got a theory as to why they aren’t relevant, and in short I think Facebook is trying to be too smart. They try to match my interests to my friends’ interests, and then display adverts that are relevant to both of us. I suppose my friends act as a sort of filter to Facebook.

But they’re making one fatal assumption. They’re assuming that I actually have the same interests as my friends. In my case, and I am sure in thousands of other people’s cases, this simply isn’t true. My interests, obviously, revolve around technology and business. But I am also interested in other things that Facebook should know about based on pages I have liked: watches, general news, travel, Asia, food, certain fashion brands etc. I’ve liked hundreds of pages, and surely some of these interests should be reflected in some adverts displayed to me on Facebook? Not once.

Now I realize that Facebook allows advertisers to target users based on keywords and other demographic information. I’ve used the Facebook advertising platform myself a few times, and it’s a good experience. But here I’m talking about the experience you receive as someone being displayed ads which is actually arguably the more important part to Facebook as they’re paid per click.

Currently when I view my profile on Facebook, I am shown ads for a new type of potato chip, a Facebook game called Galaxy Online, and an arts course at Melbourne University. I do not care in the slightest about any of these things. However, I’ve seen a lot of my friends liking pages that are relevant to these adverts. This is how I came to the conclusion that Facebook is using my friends as a filter to tell them what I’m truly interested in.

A lot of people are saying that Facebook’s advertising platform will overtake Google’s in revenue in the near future. See this TechCrunch article. But if Facebook can’t even serve a single ad to me that I’ll click on, even when I’ve liked hundreds of pages and write about my interests all the time, then I don’t see how they’ll ever be that successful.

Maybe it’s something they’ll work out in time. But in the meantime that’s a lot of potential revenue they’re missing out on.

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[Original Source]

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...

One Comment

  1. Jennifer Lorimer Reply

    I think the issue with Facebook relevancy isn’t as much in the platform as much as it is with the advertisers.
    I see so many ads that are obviously just using blanket targeting (especially those online games) – they then tack on the Social functions when they have a page – so you also get served an “oh and this friend likes us”
    Although Keyword/Interest targeting is available it doesn’t appear to be used by many of the ads I see.

    When looking at the platform on Google it’s much harder to target a blanket demographic so it’s typically easier to produce more relevant placements across key-words and topic profiles.
    Google also rewards relevancy across it’s display network and adwords with “quality score” – if an advert is relevant and has higher CTR – then it will deliver more often to these placements.

    The context across Google vs Facebook is really quite different and I think it’s difficult to compare.
    Your looking at an Ad-Network vs a Social Media site –  so for example – how would you then rate the advertising context across say the NZ Herald website – looking at a single publisher news website.

    Facebook is a social platform and advertisers are generally going to approach it this way. (Sponsored Stories around your friend likes us do actually perform well)
    The massive amount of inventory and low cost per click prices mean this is unlikely to shift into relevancy based market.
    Advertisers still get a decent ROI (eg Clicks, Likes) and a CPC means the millions of wasted impressions are irrelevant. As long as people are still on Facebook advertisers will still run ads.

    …. well anyway that’s my two cents

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