Facebook's Ad Space Is Different

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...Image via CrunchBase

I have never doubted Facebook will make gobbles of money. And I have been perfectly comfortable with their scaling the service first. Scale it first, worry about revenue later. None of Facebook's early investors have come across as impatient. Zuckerberg himself came out a few days earlier saying he is in no hurry to take the company public. That perhaps is a nod to the bad shape economy, but also to the fact that with or without the economy Facebook is not ready yet.

Facebook Faceoff Firefox

Facebook is different from Google and it is different from Twitter. Facebook came after Google and before Twitter in the genealogy of things tech.

I think the Facebook site is pretty nifty in terms of technology, I mean look at that font size. But Facebook's number one contribution is not the technology, it is the social graph, as the Facebookers like to call it. It is not search like it is for Google, it is not the stream like it is for Twitter, it is the social graph.

Facebook does not compete with Twitter. Facebook is better off taking the social graph concept to new levels. Okay, so I can stay in touch with my friends through Facebook regardless of if they are in the same town or country or not, but can I deepen my existing friendships through Facebook, can I have social concentric circles? Not all friends are equal. Some are inner circle friends, some are not so inncer circle. Can I have that on Facebook? Can I have a core of status updates meant only for immediate family?

Fractals: Apple, Windows 95, Netscape, Google, Facebook, Twitter

In digging through the data and making sense of a user's social connections and social activities, Facebook stands to create that special ad space. Google's attitude is, if you did a search on smartphones, maybe I should show you ads on smartphones, and you will click on one of the ads and make me some money. Facebook's attitude will be, you have been interacting with Iqbal and 10 others more frequently than with any of your other 500 Facebook friends, and Iqbal just bought a smartphone, I think you will too if given the opportunity, what if I show you an ad for a smartphone, or better, what if I get Iqbal to show you an ad for the very smartphone he just bought? Let him brag about it. Let me stay out of it.

What Should Facebook Do

That is lucrative ad space. Facebook will keep getting a better and better idea of any user's social graph over time. And the better it is, more defined its ad space is, and more lucrative that ad space. It is new and it is different. It sure is early stage. But once they get onto it, I think they are going to be minting money. Facebook is going to take the idea of online shopping to a whole different level.

TweetDeck, Power Twitter, Twitter Globe, Better Than Facebook

I for one can imagine Facebook becoming bigger than China. It might take a few years, but it will get there. It is okay if it takes more than a few years, if it takes a decade, that's fine too.

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My long held Facebook fantassy has been that it should not just be a place where you keep in touch with people you are already friends with, it should also be a place where you meet new people to become friends with. Facebook added a Like button. How about adding a Hello button? We might not know each other, but what if I want to say hello?

The Unfacebook

And how about Facebook Enterprise? Could the site offer team building tools?

Facebook needs sociologists, and ethnographers and anthropologists and social activists as much as it needs programmers and technologists. It is a social graph company not a tech graph company.

In The News

Learning, and Profiting, from Online Friendships BusinessWeek Companies are working fast to figure out how to make money from the wealth of data they're beginning to have about our online friendships ...... For social scientists, Watts says, this flood of data could be as transformative as Galileo's telescope was for the physical sciences ..... Tailoring offers based on friends' responses helped lift the average click rate from 0.9% to 2.7%. Although 97.3% of the people surfed past the ads, the click rate still tripled. ....... Friendship data promise insights into not only the marketplace but also the corporation. Researchers can trace the hidden networks ........ One key laboratory for IBM is its internal social network called Beehive, in which nearly 60,000 ........ Each new friend plugs an IBM worker into another sphere of knowledge and human contacts. ...... while each of us likely will switch jobs seven or eight times in our careers, we continue to build a network of friends that can sustain us. ...... LinkedIn's Hoffman ..... has 1,864 contacts on LinkedIn. ..... the contacts outside of our close friendships are more likely to lead us to new opportunities. Their networks have less overlap and extend into different areas. ........ trading information, creating alliances, doing favors ....... the value in online friendship is poised to grow.
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