Facebook will soon have targeted ads in your news stream. Why do I make this baseless1 claim? Allow me to direct your attention:
- Facebook is contemplating commercial messages in the news stream.
- Facebook doesn’t want competition. If anyone’s going to make money off advertising in your stream, it’s going to be Facebook. Don’t believe Facebook is looking out for its users in banning these third-party ads. Facebook is looking out for numero uno.
Facebook believes it knows best. They ignored all the complaints when they changed the user interface. Now, Facebook isn’t responding to requests to block quizzes in the news stream. What does this have to do with ads? Once again, two things:
- Facebook is good at ignoring what its users want. Ignoring all the requests for blocking quiz results is just good practice for ignoring all the requests they’ll get for blocking ads. If Facebook caves and lets us block quiz results, that will set a precedent for letting user control their news feed. They obviously can’t have that.
- Facebook wants these quizzes in our news streams. Facebook knows these quizzes make our news streams gutters of suck. If our streams get bad enough, Facebook knows we’ll willingly welcome anything for a break from the quizzes, even ads. We’ll be like watchers of reality TV, anxiously awaiting the next commercial break.
Think about it. Facebook knows where we went to school, where we work, and our religion affiliations (or lack thereof). Facebook knows who our friends are and our relationship statuses. Facebook knows what we look like and where we live. Imagine looking in your news feed and seeing ads for:
- Weight loss programs. After all, your pictures show you’ve gained weight and you’re a fan of Weight Watchers.
- Hair loss treatment. Again, your pictures rat you out. If software can detect a face it can’t be hard to create software to detect bald spots. With a little tweak, the software would know from the baseball cap you wear in every single picture that you’re follicly challenged as well.
- ED treatments. Hopefully, your pictures don’t reveal your need for this product (please!), but a heuristic analysis of your age, relationship status, and your compensating automobile purchase (okay, your pictures do give you away) will still provide a reasonable target demographic.
- Plastic Surgery. Yup, blame those stupid pictures again. Try not to take offense when the ad specifically mentions your turkey neck, thick thighs, or flat chest.
- Divorce attorneys. At first this seems a little harder to target. But take your relationship status, mix in a psychological analysis of your status updates and they might get lucky. Throw in all your “private” messages and “discrete” chats with members of the opposite sex (or same, if your profile so indicates) that are not your significant other, and luck goes out the window. Facebook has you nailed.
- Religious tracts. Did you go to a religious private school? Unwilling to list your denomination? Are you a fan of an atheist page? Facebook knows and can sell targeted access to your stream. For an additional revenue opportunity, Facebook could up-sell these ads so they come knocking in pairs.
What ads do you expect to see in your news stream?
- Okay, I got nothing… ;-) ↩