How the Facebook Psychic Read My Mind…Literally

by Dev Basu February 5th, 2008 

Credit: Pixel Addict

Is Facebook Getting Too Close to Our Interests?

Recently, when logging into my Facebook profile, I was greeted with a very targeted ad that got me thinking – Can Facebook read my mind? The ad in question was along the left sidebar, and was for Hostgator, a popular shared hosting company. What's rather astounding is that this ad was displayed on my profile, which has little reference to the nature of my job, and my interests as webmaster, seo, or social media specialist.

Relevency in ad placements is always a great thing, however, this was plain spooky as in fact, I am in the market for a new hosting company. My old host is not quite helpful, and has been unable to ressurect my personal blog from its current 'bare' state, after a rather painful apache server upgrade.

At first I passed this off as a coincidence, but it seems like Facebook is quite stuck on my signing up with Hostgator, as I still haven't decided on what company to go with. From the looks of it, Hostgator, or the affiliate promoting it is certainly achieving great top-of-mind presence by maintaining the frequency and reach of its ad placements.

Is Advertising on Facebook Good ROI for Your Dollar?

As reported by Valleywag (excerpt below), Facebook is certainly not the messiah of targeted online advertising that it was made out to be. But with the example above in mind, perhaps Facebook advertising is worth more investigation. Here's the excerpt from Valleywag

So Facebook, which has been letting people know it's on track for $150m in revenues in 2007, must be an awesome advertising platform. Well, sorry to rain on the parade, but no. Media buyers — the agency people who book campaigns — report that the college social network is a truly terrible target. They're mainly students, with low disposable income, of course; but, beyond that, the users appear to be too busy leaving messages for eachother to show much interest in advertising. Facebook's members appear indifferent even to movie advertising aimed at their demographic. Clickthrough rates, the percentage of time users click on an ad, average 0.04% — just 400 clicks in every 1m views — according to one report seen by Valleywag.

Taking the Leap of Faith

A lot of company's haven't tried Facebook advertising yet, because they have been swayed by the Beacon fiasco, and are also adopting the 'wait and watch' strategy to see if the platform really takes off. Of course, if it did take off, then the same companies would be regretting why they didn't get their feet wet in the first place when they had a chance to, and there was less competition.

I don't know what the future of Facebook advertising holds, but I can certainly see potential if it is used the right way. As for me, I'm going to check out Hostgator's hosting plans (by clicking on the Facebook ad), and so in the advertisers book I am a prospective customer that possibly will convert to a sale :)

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3 Responses to “How the Facebook Psychic Read My Mind…Literally”

  1. Actually, those are run of site ads. There may be some targeting, but afaik they're sold in bulk. I asked about them once and was told minimum buy is 25K. While I'm sure you'd be a great client, I don't think they're targeting that precisely, not to mention that when I used to run flyers 'seo' was not even a recognized 'interests' keyword to target…

    Probably a coincidence.

  2. Dev Basu says:

    @Gab – In the event that these ads are not that targeted, I'd say Hostgator wouldn't be efficiently spending its ad budget on Facebook. A very small population of 18-25 year old would buy hosting, and as such HG would have a lot of money locked into a 25k minimum buy-in that wouldn't convert so well. On the other hand, if ringtones or screensavers were being promoted, I can see that working well.

  3. Matt Ridout says:

    Im not convinced on the return from facebook. I would say there are better ways to invest in 25K to achieve sales