Facebook Does An About Face On Social Ads

Well, that was fast. Just three weeks in to the glorious future of advertsing as reinvented by Facebook, the soc net is stepping off. Adweek frames the situation.

Under mounting pressure from consumer privacy groups and its own community, Facebook has moved to scale back its plans to publish accounts of its users’ purchases and other commercial activity.
As of late Thursday, Facebook users must now proactively consent to alert friends whenever they take various actions, such as renting a DVD or purchasing a pair of sneakers.
Those public announcements, enabled by the company’s new Beacon technology, were the centerpieces of Facebook’s new Social Ads initiative, which was unveiled on Nov. 6. Facebook executives touted Beacon as a way for brands to tap into the power of personal endorsements among friends. Company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about Social Ads in revolutionary terms: “This is a completely new way of thinking about advertising online.”

I guess a “completely new way of thinking about advertising online” is tough when you couple that with advertising’s history of being a completely old way of pissing people off.
Is Facebook jumping the shark? Can it sustain its momentum?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I thought this was exactly the right move for them to make, and not wait too much longer to do it. (If they waited until December when online shopping picks up steam, they’d piss a whole bunch of people off.)
    Anytime a company is going to take personal information and give it to other people, even if those other people are your friends as with Facebook, they need to make it an opt-in vs. opt-out.
    I was one of the people that received the online petition to change Facebok’s policy, and I was impressed how soon they made the change after I received the petition. The new rules of the web say it’s ok to make a mistake as long as you are transparent about it.
    Ken (purethinking.typepad.com)

  2. Great new innovation for advertiser’s? Yes. How about for facebookers? Not so much. Besides have a stalker feel about it, this tool would also discourage people from purchasing personal, potentially embarrassing items and gifts for friends intended as surprises. Also, just because a friend bought something doesn’t mean they ended up liking it, and if it’s clothing or any stylized product it would be strange to mimic your friends’ buying patterns.

  3. I just blogged about this: It’s less about knowing what my friends just bought and more about not particularly caring because it’s really no surprise that they’re buying books at Amazon or downloading CDs off iTunes.
    So the list of “who bought what” becomes just another barrage of useless spam, to be avoided because it contains no news and only limited voyeuristic rewards.