Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Backlash from the Facebook Beacon advertising program

Facebook's attempt to exploit its social network for advertising purposes has raised some major concerns from their users. The Beacon advertising platform is designed to broadcast purchases made by users to their social network. The issue has been taken up by the progressive political organization, MoveOn.org claiming the program violates privacy. Over 50,000 Facebook users have signed the MoveOn.org petition complaining about the privacy issue. The primary problem seems to be in the opt-out strategy taken by Facebook. There is no question that social networks are here to stay and they do influence purchases, especially for travel. The "Where I've Been" application (now owned by Trip Advisor) has been one of the most successful applications on Facebook. Behavioural targeting is also becoming a mainstream advertising strategy that is designed to deliver specific content based on the implicit and explicit behavior of the user. Earlier this year one of the largest players in the behavioral targeting space, Tacoda, was purchased by AOL demonstrating the importance of this emerging advertising trend. Mobile advertising is beginning to become major force as well. Whether planning a complex vacation or buying a HDTV, the opinions of my friends and colleagues do make a difference. The key lesson here is that no matter what the platform (social networks, behavioural targeting or mobile advertising) the user must be in control. Opt-in is the key, not opt-out.

28 comments:

Gudrun from Kango said...

I agree with you, users should be in control of opting in or out and it should not be hard to figure out. Since I heard about this new "feature" from LinkedIn, I have been staying off some of my regular shopping sites. Some of the people I know in FB are casual acquaintances, and while I would not mind them knowing I had purchased a new book for my 2nd grader, I can imagine there are many purchases I would not want publicized. That said, I do tend to like popular opinion when I purchase big ticket items, and it would be nice to know what others have thought. On the other hand, isn't this feeding into the whole competitive nature of Silicon Valley, comparing yourselves to your friends? I will be signing the petition today.....

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Barrett said...

Hi Norm - I find it's very difficult to draw the line as well. The opt-in / opt-out method is so "in your face". Not a very comfortable web experience, if you ask me.

If someone really loves something, I feel that will go and actively search for it...and then bookmark it, if they want to come back. That's what we are doing with earthfaves.com - letting people simply share favorites and create a community around travel interests (without pushing the technology or advertising in their faces).

It would be great to chat with you over the phone and get some of your insight into technology, Web2.0, and travel....

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