Will Ads Kill Facebook?

The latest development announced recently by the social network is the intention to place ads within members content.

facebook leaps into ad filled future
Facebook may be leaping into an ad-filled future and taking your wall or timeline with it. They say they are

taking the bold step of putting advertising right in the mix between photos of babies and updates on trips to restaurants

The announcement of is likely to be aimed at expanding visible revenue streams in advance of its IPO as revenue for ads has been falling – 82% of its sales came from ads in the first quarter this year, down from 98% in 2009. Other revenue comes from in-app payments in games such as Farmville. According to Facebook in 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, Zynga  (Farmville operators) directly accounted for approximately 12% and 11%  of their revenue, derived from payments processing fees related to Zynga’s sales of virtual goods and from direct advertising purchased by Zynga.

Carolyn Everson Facebook’s VP of global marketing says

Our vision for marketing is that it is as good as any of the content you and I see on our newsfeed from a friend or family member

Who's gonna Look at it this way – having ads in a site or newspaper or magazine is fine if it doen’t intrude upon or detract from from the stuff you actually want to see – we all have bills to pay right? This is how they pay theirs. So ads off to the side; OK. At the top and side of the page (but separated) in our searches; fair enough – but do we want advertising breaks in our own conversations… probably not. It would be kinda like having someone come in and put stickers in your family album.

Could this be a tipping point for the current social networking powerhouse?

The massive increase in use of social media via mobile devices makes it highly attractive to advertisers, with some seeing as much as 40% of their traffic from mobiles. However ads on mobiles can also make a message less attractive in a relatively crowded viewing space, after all even the larger tablets and pads with increased HD+ resolutions are clearer yet are still the only size of a book page – indeed that’s the whole point of them: they are not a large screen TV – they are intended to fit in a large pocket or small bag.

Social networks before FB such as Yahoo, Myspace and others have had their fortunes wane, while being in their day (when the overall internet population was much smaller) perhaps as big as Facebook is today. In a medium as fast changing as the 21st Century internet any trends, fads or even major phenomena, however large can have their day and then decline as clients jump to the Next Big Thing. The popularity lifespan seems to time-out at around 3-5 years, so FB’s time may be up.

Its also worth noting that nowadays you can construct your own social portal very easily; complete with groups, IM’s, private areas and so on. With a little planning it can be done in about a weekend (contact us if you would like help with this) – and you don’t have to share your every thought, contact, friend or message with corporate data miners or contend with impenetrable and ever changing privacy policies, tracking scandals and bugs that can frequently come with commercially oriented corporations.

The software needed is free and open source –  all you need to start is a suitable web-hosting account which is not expensive until you get big enough to need your own server.

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