Why Facebook should sell ads outside of Facebook

Back in January I noted Facebook has a frequency problem — the basic fact that every Like happens only once, and one touch is not enough to spur consumers to action. In advertising, frequency is the number of times you reach a person with a message, and in study after study a frequency of 3 to 4 ad impressions per week is required to break through resistance to get people to respond. This typically maximizes the “response rate curve,” as shown above. So the basic problem with Facebook “Likes,” the one click of a human saying she digs your product, is that it is only one real impression. What happens next?

Which brings me to the solution — Facebook should sell retargeted advertising outside its Facebook ecosystem. This wouldn’t be hard to do; Facebook would simply tag the computer of any user who “Likes” something with a cookie, and then via partnerships with ad networks or direct bids into ad exchanges, Facebook would enable the serving of downstream ads against that user.

This would provide an incredibly powerful new ad format, combining social media engagement (one Like) with multiple followup contacts (banner ads served across the Internet to maximize frequency) to drive real response (which is not a silly “Like,” but rather when someone actually buys your product).

But it would mean Facebook would have to admit users do things outside the Facebook ecosystem.

The downside is this would remove the perceived brand imperative that you must build response mechanisms inside Facebook, just as 10 years ago you had to have keywords inside AOL. Sad. Because Facebook serving retargeted ads outside of Facebook would work beautifully. What do you say, Facebook, want to give integrated advertising a try?

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

2 thoughts on “Why Facebook should sell ads outside of Facebook

  1. Not to sound like some sort of Social media doomsday naysayer; but I don’t think the current Facebook is long for this world. With GM pulling out of the whole Facebook ad business thing, it may show that long term investment is untenable – after all, they ran computer models before deciding to pull their $10 million investment. Ultimately, the possible improvements that Google and even Microsoft can make to their search engines will trump anything a social media site can become, especially given that people dont really want to be advertised to, and Facebook will have to bombard us with more and more ads to keep sustaining their company. It will take a bit of time, possibly, but Facebook will soon rest with Myspace with a likewise epitaph.

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