Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch is liveblogging Facebook’s announcement as
2:48: “the next hundred years will be different for advertising, and it starts today. As marketers pushing our information out is no longer enough. We are announcing a new advertising system, not about broadcasting messages, about getting into the conversations between people. 3 pieces: build pages for advertisers, a new kind of ad system to spread the messages virally, and gain insights.”
Advertisers can build their own Facebook pages and design them any way they like: “We have photos, videos, discussion boards, any Flash content you want to bring to your page, plus any application a third party developer has made.”
The first of the rumors to be confirmed is Project Beacon which features a user opt-in to receive messages from your brand directly to their mini-feed (not to be confused with their news feed!):
2:52 PM: Social distribution, now here is where it gets interesting. When somebody engages with your page, that is spread virally through the network. When someone says they are a fan of your brand, that becomes a trusted referral. It goes right to their Mini feed. A strong trusted referral for your brand. You will be able to craft the types of social actions you want to spread across the social graph.
“We have created a product called Beacon that let’s you do this. Beacon will let users send information to their page, we confirm it, and share it on Facebook. One partner is eBay.” Can share listings from eBay on Facebook. So users can share social actions from other websites and share them on Facebook. “This will be completely free.”
The second confirmation was for Facebook’s long-trademarked term, Social Ads.
“Social Actions + Content = Social Ads.” . . . these ads will appear both in people’s feeds and as a personalized banner ad.
Naturally, Zuckerberg promises that these ads can be targeted according to just about any information users have provided in their profile. (Equally naturally, he assures us that user information will only be made available in aggregate, and not linked to personal profiles or otherwise personally identifiable.)
But at its heart, today’s message is about the marketer:
“We will be able to track how much people are talking about your brand in public forums across facebook. As you run ads on Facebook you will be able to see the exact mind share you are getting.”
This final announcement appears to be part of a third service geared toward marketers called “Insights.”
With the pronouncement that everything they’ve shown launches with over forty partners this very night, Zuckerberg walks off stage. (Sounds very dramatic, eh?)
Meanwhile, All Facebook has the official announcement from Facebook:
Facebook Ads includes three parts: a way for businesses to build pages on Facebook to connect with its audience; an ad system that facilitates the spread of brand messages virally through Facebook Social Ads™; and an interface to gather insights into people’s activity on Facebook that marketers care about. On other websites, Facebook Beacon provides a way for users to choose to share their activities with their friends on Facebook. Landmark partners are implementing the fullest set of offerings from Facebook Ads.
The pages mentioned in the announcement are described further:
Just like a Facebook user, businesses can start with a blank canvas and add all the information and content they want, including photos, videos, music and Facebook Platform applications. Outside developers have created a range of applications to enhance Facebook Pages, such as booking reservations or providing reviews of restaurant pages, buying tickets on a movie page or creating a custom t-shirt. Companies launching applications for Pages include Fandango, iLike, Musictoday LLC, OpenTable, SeamlessWeb, Zagat Survey LLC and Zazzle.
I’m pretty sure this integrates with the first part of the announcement that Erick blogged: you can opt in to receive messages from your favorite businesses and brands.
Has Facebook finally found the way to make itself truly useful to businesses—and monetize itself effectively at the same time? (Time will tell, of course, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.)