Facebook introduced its much-anticipated Ads program yesterday. I did a brief write-up (from 3k miles away) at SEL. While I think it’s clever, I’m critical of the program because Facebook in my view is turning into a spam generator. Most of the stuff that I’m getting (from my network) is just noise. And the bigger your network the noisier it is.
But one aspect of the “Beacon” dimension of Facebook Ads is very interesting to me. I’ll illustrate with Yelp, one of the partners (and not the only local-oriented partner). The Beacon program is designed to send your actions/endorsements from third party sites back to your Facebook newsfeeds and profile. It extends Facebook’s reach into the broader Internet and allows the partners to reach the Facebook audience, tapping its much-celebrated viral marketing capabilities.
Here’s how the Beacon works in the context of Yelp (as a stand-in for other local sites):
- I have to be signed in to Facebook first
- I write a review on Yelp
- At the lower right of the screen when I post the review I see this:
If I do nothing it goes to my Facebook profile/newsfeeds. If I opt out it doesn’t appear.
Here’s what appears at the top of your Facebook profile:
Once again I have the option to opt out and eliminate the appearance of these reviews. If I do nothing, however, they’ll go to my newsfeeds and presumably everyone in my network will see that I reviewed these businesses on Yelp.
It’s smart for Yelp to do this and it’s a boon to the local businesses that may get viral exposure on Facebook: It syndicates Yelps reviews with the added layer of “trust” that I provide to my network. Of course for those people outside my immediate geographic area it doesn’t mean much (not sure if Facebook controls or filters for geography in this case).
This is the general idea: I become a trusted recommender or endorser of brands/businesses/products. In the case of Coca-Cola it doesn’t work so well because people already know Coke and have their own impressions/ideas of the company. But in a local business context it works very well indeed.
Superpages has a Facebook application and it probably makes sense for the site to participate in this program as well for the same reasons that Yelp is.
Here’s the Facebook blog on the various aspects of the Facebook Ads program.