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The Pervasive Nature of Facebook Ads

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Facebook recently made upgrades to its Photo Viewer feature and was tipped by many as being a rip-off of the Google+ to be on par with the rival. But what Facebook has discreetly done is that it has invented a new and improved real estate place to display its ads.

As you can see in the image below, Facebook ads now appear more prominently on the photos that you view. 

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Of course you may not see them if a post has lots of comments on it but the lesser the comments, the more the space occupied by the ads.

The new photo viewer, no doubt, is better than the previous one, mainly because we don’t have to scroll down to see comments and we now see them as we hover over the image. But somewhere, users might find it irritating, especially when ads appear more prominently while viewing the photos.

This new ad space might be good news for advertisers thought, as they now have some extra space to gain an impression for their ads but for a user these ads are becoming pervasive day-by-day.

Another evidence of this pervasive nature of Facebook Ads is the fact that Facebook is currently testing the ‘sponsored featured stories inside news feed’ feature, and will roll it out to all soon.  The ads, though, are ambiguously named as ‘Featured Stories’ instead of ‘Sponsored Stories’.

As many users are learning the art of ignoring ads which appear on right hand side, Facebook is now planning to display some ads right where the action is –The News Feed. Even a viral heat map shows that News Feed is where the eye balls and Facebook wants to cash that in for its advertisers.

Amidst all these efforts by Facebook to monetize its platform, it will be interesting to note user reaction. Users till date have criticized a lot of changes which Facebook made, like the annoying ‘Ticker’. But eventually they learn to live with. But will that be the case with Facebook’s increasing efforts to display ads almost anywhere a user goes on Facebook? Well, that’s a tough one to answer.

Facebook recently filed the much hyped IPO seeking to raise a massive $5 billion. Spiderman’s uncle might have quoted this as “with great IPO comes great pressure to monetize”, and this fictional quote does hold some truth. After all who doesn’t want to squeeze the lemon till the last drop, especially a one like Facebook which has 845 million users inside it?

Facebook says that it is free, and will always be. But then what is it that it is selling? You! My dear friend, you and I are the product.

So, grab your seat belts, as Facebook is gearing up to take you on ad frenzy.

Somesh Khandalkar 

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