Skip to content
Sep 27 / Nathan Levi

New Facebook verbs – Another layer of complexity for advertisers?

Many of you will already have heard about Facebook‘s introduction of new verbs which enable you to tell your friends what music you’re listening to, what food you’re eating, and what you’re doing on the toilet. I have in the past criticized the value  of the ‘like’ button, for the simple reason that I don’t think it means much or has any value. We now have new verbs like ‘listen’, ‘read’, ‘cook’ and ‘doing a number 2′ (ok I’ll stop).

What will this mean for the Facebook user? For one thing you will be able to share a lot more information about yourself and have it all nicely collected in the ‘big brother style’ timeline. For another, your friends will have a much better idea of what you’re up to and be able to share your recipes, music and favourite articles making discovery online more relevant and  fun. It may eventually mean that we need to search less as things that are relevant to us will present themselves in serendipitous fashion (watch out Google, your days might be numbered). Zuckerberg has rightly started out with verbs that naturally lend themselves to social interaction like listening to music and cooking. The real challenge remains with commerce; when Facebook inevitably add the verb ‘bought’ will people really want to share their grocery shop or their Christmas gifts with all of their friends…?

Other businesses might feel threatened by Facebook’s new verbs. I’ve already hinted at what this might mean for Google. I’m sure Apple’s Itunes might wish to ‘dislike’ the open graph (if only they could), Facebook are now able to do what Ping attempted but on a much grander scale. The opportunity for businesses seems limited to those who are willing to offer something for free, which is great for the likes of  Spotify and Yahoo, not so great for News International and the aforementioned Itunes. Zuckerberg’s argument that this will help businesses by increasing the potential of discovery is only true for those who are willing to play the game.

For advertisers there appears to be more opportunity for richer targeting. Now you will not only be able to target by a person’s ‘likes’, but also by their day to day habits. I am still a little dubious about this opportunity. Can we segment customers based on their music preferences? Probably not. We can however understand more about customers based on what they read. For example, if I, customer A, have recently read an incredibly insightful blog about Facebook’s new verbs, I might be someone who is an early adopter of new technology, and might respond to ads for the iPhone 5. The problem right now with Facebook advertising is that the ad formats suck, a small tile no matter how targeted is easily ignored. Facebook need to get more creative with the format to drive better interaction, perhaps weaving them into the new generation of apps that we’ll be using.

It’s clear we’re only at the beginning of the opportunities that will be presented to advertisers as more verbs are introduced. If Facebook can unlock the potential power of social commerce in this way they will undoubtedly trump Google in this space. For now I’m discovering my boyfriend listens to a lot Adele in his spare time, I do hope he’s not upset about something.

New Facebook verbs   Another layer of complexity for advertisers?
Leave a Comment