Facebook advertising is getting a little frenetic.
Sponsored story or ad, browser or mobile, cost-per-click (CPC or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), targeted to fans or non-fans, in the news feed or timeline…. seems everything is changing. I don’t envy advertisers with their myriad choices (though when in doubt, mobile seems to be a pretty good bet). In any case, completely unrelated to their stock troubles (wink), Facebook has been rolling out a lot of creative advertising options that may cross the line of propriety without violating its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”
I thought it might be interesting to go through the Facebook “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” and see what options Facebook leaves open for future advertising.
Facebook gives you an opt-out
“You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. You give us permission to use your name and profile picture in connection with that content, subject to the limits you place.”
Before examining how it could get worse, it should be mentioned how Facebook actually does give you options about how your identity is used in advertising. They offer you two options for controlling how advertisers could use your profile. Of course an opt-out clause hidden in terms of service that few are likely to read ensures that the vast majority of Facebook users will use this, but their credit it’s there.
Facebook could stop explicitly identifying ad content
“You understand that we may not always identify paid services and communications as such.”
This seems like the next step for Facebook to experiment with. In theory it seems a bit deceptive, but in practice it probably wouldn’t be noticeable with all of the noise that Facebook users are already accustomed to. And with mobile advertising proving to be a solid product, anything that would make it more effective would improve its value.
Facebook could pull a Twitter… or an app.net
“We do not guarantee that Platform will always be free.”
Don’t freak out – this is a statement specifically for developers. Facebook has already severely penalized third-party applications that post to Facebook. They could further ratchet that down or eliminate API access similar to what Twitter is doing right now, or they could adopt a model similar to upstart app.net that charges developers for API access.
This would force more users to use Facebook apps, though this would have nowhere near the impact that it will for Twitter (where as many as 25% of users access the service from a third-party client).
Facebook could do whatever it wants
“In instances where we believe doing so will enhance the effectiveness of your advertising campaign, we may broaden the targeting criteria you specify.”
Facebook could arbitrarily change an advertiser’s target audience, which would show less relevant ads to users. This might be a tactic that could be used to increase short-term revenue (by increasing the velocity of ad spend) but for the long-term would result in less effective ads. You’d probably never know this happened until an advertiser figured this out and exposed it.
Facebook could rewrite their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
Facebook could simply rewrite their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and change the game. Of course as a public company this would be met with even more scrutiny than in the past.
“We can change this Statement if we provide you notice (by posting the change on the Facebook Site Governance Page) and an opportunity to comment. “
If and when Facebook does change their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, be on the lookout to see if this statement remains: “We don’t sell your information to advertiser.s” If it doesn’t consider it a sign that Facebook is in big trouble…. and so are their users.
Facebook still has some options to integrate ads further into the user experience. But what they do next is anyone’s guess.