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Innovation

Facebook launches its ad platform; Coca-Cola as friend?

Facebook on Tuesday announced its long awaited advertising system, dubbed Facebook Ads.According to the company's statement, Facebook Ads will allow "businesses to connect with users and target advertising to the exact audiences they want.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Facebook on Tuesday announced its long awaited advertising system, dubbed Facebook Ads.

According to the company's statement, Facebook Ads will allow "businesses to connect with users and target advertising to the exact audiences they want."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined how the company has 60 partners lined up. Facebook Ads will attempt to make advertising more viral with users learning about brands and products via friend referrals. (

See gallery at right of my experience.)

The partner roster for Facebook Ads, which was rolled out in New York, is impressive. It includes Blockbuster, CBS, Chase, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Sony Pictures Television and Verizon Wireless. Microsoft, which recently bought a stake in Facebook, is no surprise.

Meanwhile Facebook Ads has three parts: Businesses can build pages to connect with their audience; viral social ads and an interface to track activity.

In addition, Facebook also announced today that 44 websites are using Facebook Beacon, a tool that allows users to share information from other websites for distribution to their friends on Facebook. Beacon is a part of the Facebook Ads system. With Beacon, Web sites offer Facebook users the most relevant parts of their sites for distribution on the social site. When a logged in Facebook user visits a participating site, he or she is asked whether they want to share activities with friends.

eBay, Fandango, Live Nation, CBS Interactive and many IAC sites are in the Beacon program. For example, eBay let eBay.com sellers include their eBay listings in their Facebook newsfeeds via Beacon.

Of course, the big question is whether Facebook users will find all of this marketing annoying. That remains to be seen, but we should know the answer soon--100,000 new Facebook Pages launched from brands, bands, businesses and other organizations.

Simply put, businesses can start their own Facebook profiles. Companies like Fandango and Zagat already have profiles and sponsored are showing up. For instance, Ziddio is asking me if I'm a Led Zeppelin's biggest fan (above). Memo to Ziddio: Get me Foo Fighters tickets and we'll talk.

A few key points:

  • Brands will get distribution through the "social graph," a viral referral system. Facebook is hoping that users will spread information about a business through a network of friends. The challenge: Getting folks to put business info on a wall or mini-feed. Who is really going to extol the virtues of Verizon Wireless on their wall?
  • The ad system serves social ads that will lump together a review from a friend with and advertisement. The challenge: This marketing mashup could make users squeamish. Do I really want to poke a Coke Classic?

  • Facebook gets a metric treasure chest. Facebook will provide metrics to its marketers that include activity, fan demographics and ad performance so businesses can adjust targeting and content. The challenge: Doing this in a way that doesn't make me feel like a marketing guinea pig. For instance, I have to be a friend to all of these brands just to see what they are doing. Do I really want to be on Coca-Cola's marketing list? I'll get out of this and see if Guinness is in the house.

See also: Techmeme, Jeremiah Owyang, Dennis Howlett, TechCrunch

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