The Beginning of the Facebook Revenue / Experience Squeeze?

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History repeats itself. A social networking site begins pure and unique, entirely focused on what users find cool. In truth, they’re building on the backs of VCs. Eventually they are pressured to grow revenue and it’s a race against time. The revenue pressure starts to squeeze the original purity of the experience that brought the crowd in the first place. And then the crowd moves on to the next great experience. Remember Tripod and GeoCities? Remember Friendster and Orkut? Remember MySpace? When will we say "Remember Facebook?".

Ok, it’s not that dire, yet. I’m a Facebook fan. But logging into my profile tonight I saw an ad like I never saw before. See that Car insurance ad?

If I start seeing more of these ads in my profile every time I log in, the profile won’t feel like ‘mine’ anymore.

Moreover, the ad is crap. Cheesy picture. And I clicked through…sure enough, cheesy company.The difference with Google ads is they are all text, so cheesiness is more hidden from the expeirence. And Google is not my personal page. Which may make advertising on social networks more difficult, for the advertiser and the longevity of the social network.

What do I like? I like how people can join brands (see the Apple brand at the bottom), and how I invited in marketplace listings on the right. And I’m ok with ads on the left (not shown) because that seems like a place for ads, not in my news feed.

Anyway, they will continue to experiment, we’ll see if we will stick around, and we all will see if history repeats itself.

4 Responses

  1. Jacinta says:

    That’s true, Facebook does allow images which can dilute the overall look of a profile. The targeting that you can do with a Facebook ad is unreal though.

  2. It really does feel invasive. Hopefully they’ll figure it out, because with such great target marketing available, it would be a shame for it to drive down their popularity.

  3. Tom says:

    Drawing parallels to Geocities or past failures is a misinformed analogy. Facebook’s commitment to privacy through “networks” (schools, work, geography) is part of the significant sustainable edge they have. Reason sites die off is because they collapse under their own weight of users checking out other users’ info. A race to the bottom ensues as people share less and less. Same isn’t true for a site that lets users protect privacy and increases information flow.

  4. R. Koontz says:

    I would agree that the advertising seems almost too invasive. It is almost as if they are trying to hide with the rest of the newsfeed.
    Also, Facebook seems not to be so private anymore. Since they started allowing users without networks join the site in 2006, the appeal of Facebook has sort of died, in my opinion. It was great when only college students could use the site.
    I can see why there is a push for revenue, though. Since Facebook is now open to everyone, the Webmasters have to pay for a much larger server to run the site. With more than 60 million active users and more than 450 employees, they need revenue to maintain the site and write paychecks.

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