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My Life on Facebook as a Woman and Why Social Network Advertising Doesn’t Work
Last weekend I joked around on Twitter regarding the ads I see on Facebook on the left menu. As a single man in my 30s, the ads are always sexual in nature — some examples: "Hot Singles Waiting For You" and "30s Singles Looking for Love", etc. Apparently single men in their 30s are only interested in sex says Facebook. I wondered what women see in that spot so I changed my sex as a test. As a woman the ads were much more general. Sure, some are around sex with singles ads, but as a woman I am also presented with a variety of more general ads. Weight loss ads seem to be the most popular because clearly men have no weight issues (??) along with "mature 45+" singles ads coming in right behind. This week I will try female married and female widowed — any bets on the ads that will be displayed?
This afternoon Charles Hudson said that social networking advertising will be harder than we think. Hudson notes that he’s used Twitter and Facebook as social shopping tools outside of the advertising to gain insight from his friends. This model he says hurts both services because they didn’t capture a piece of the pie.
For 10+ years I’ve said that most times when a service tells me they can’t get advertisers, it winds up being more about their lack of ability to sell ads rather than lack of inventory. In Hudson’s example, both Twitter and Facebook could slap an affiliate code on the links that go out to the merchants and earn revenue on the transaction. FatWallet has made a very successful business this way and just think about how much larger Facebook is. Why any link from Facebook to Amazon would go out without an affiliate code is beyond me. And there are hundreds of other ways Facebook and other social networks can generate revenue. Cheesy bottom feeding CPM ads only hurt the image of the company.
Since day 1 with Facebook, I’ve been shocked at how poor the ad quality is. For a company that has a $15B valuation, their ad sales teams plain suck. Do you seriously mean to tell me that all they can sell for a man is sex ads? Facebook knows more about me than many of my friends do, and should be able to easily provide ads that benefit me along with providing a strong revenue stream for Facebook.
While I agree with Hudson that social services will be used in some ways that the service might not be able to monetize, the truth is that so many of the social networks do a piss-poor job of bringing in relevant ads. Most of the social networks talk to their users about what they want in a service, but never talk about the ads they would like to see. Why is it so scary to have this type of conversation? Frankly I don’t know. But I do know that Facebook is wasting super cheap CPM ads on me for dating services while there are so many other types of ads that I might actually be interested in.