Facebook is in danger of becoming a big, old-fashioned web publisher like Yahoo! or AOL because it is now more concerned with audience “reach” than it is with the unique way Facebook users interact with each other inside the social network, Ad Age suggests.
“Reach” is about the scale or size of the audience. Television has been the premier “reach” medium for decades. (In fact, Facebook is gunning for TV’s ad dollars.)
Facebook, by contrast, has always been about “social” advertising, that is, super-relevant ads that are keyed off the organic interaction of its users.
Ad Age’s Cotton Delo states the obvious about Facebook’s recent movies into ads generated by automated real-time bidding (via Facebook’s FBX exchange) and “custom audiences,” in which companies match their own marketing lists against Facebook’s.
But, crucially, she notes that big advertisers, who need big audiences — where the real money is — might never have been that interested in the social side:
While Facebook clearly isn’t abandoning social ads, its adoption of more tried-and-true online-ad models has the advantage of being more easily explained to CMOs, most of whom never grasped the significance of accruing fans and “likes,” according to Colin Sutton, social-media director at OMD.
One agency chief even suggested that Facebook might be on the road to Yahoo-dom:
Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus. “It’s become less about having a relationship … and more about reach,” he said. “I would hate to see Facebook just end up being a publisher like everyone else is.”
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