Back in June (wow, was it that long ago?) I was a guest on TummelVision.tv with hosts Deb Schultz and Heather Gold. On that show, I argued with Heather that “on Facebook, Advertisers are the client, and we (the users) are the product.” It’s not quite as bad as Soylent Green (where we’re the product and the consumer in an endless cycle) but it does have similarities.
I think this latest ad unit proves it. Our actions are being sold back to us as advertising content. See coverage on AdAge, HuffPo. As AdAge reports, “…if Starbucks buys a “sponsored story” ad, the status of a user’s friends who check into or “like” Starbucks will run twice: once in the user’s news feed, and again as a paid ad for Starbucks.”
What’s the value of this additional unit? Advertisers are looking for “social proof.” In other words, if you “Like” a movie, or Starbucks, or a brand, your endorsement may be more effective than an ad just done by the company. As commenters noted in the AdAge piece, many people ignore the banners, so this may give them even more reason to do so.
I think this takes away from the authentic preferences that people have by making us and our actions into content in an even more explicit way than Facebook already does as a platform.
I’m interested to see how this grows, and if it is more effective than other methods of sharing people’s preferences on Facebook. What do you think?