Stephen Sclafani

Creating Intent on Facebook

June 25th, 2012

One of the major criticisms of Facebook’s ad offerings has been that they lack intent. In the past few months Facebook has begun to address this issue. In March Facebook began testing real-time ads based on user wall posts and status updates. This month Facebook announced Facebook Exchange, which will allow advertisers to bid on retargeting ads that are based on intent that users have shown on a third-party websites. The problem with these initiatives is that they have to overcome the negative intent that is inherent in Facebook’s nature as a social network. It does not matter how well an ad is targeted, or the amount of intent that a user has shown on a third-party website, if users are turned off to ads while using Facebook. For these initiatives to truly be successful intent has to be created that is native to the reasons why users use Facebook. How can Facebook accomplish this? Some thoughts.

A Dashboard For Your Life

As Facebook increasingly becomes a tool with which its users plan their daily lives, the information added by users can be put into context not just in terms of what a user has already done (e.g. Timeline) but what the user is planning to do. Imagine a women planning her wedding. Imagine if all of her communications; all of her likes; all of her actions on Facebook related to her planning her wedding could be aggregated under a “Wedding Plans” context in real-time. Imagine if third-party websites could post to this context. Imagine if advertisers could have their targeted ads displayed to the women while she interacted with the context.

A Social Product Graph

Every day millions of Facebook users make product buying decisions but very few of them use Facebook to research those decisions. Facebook is what people do between research. Imagine if companies could add their products to Facebook like they can now with Pages, but could also add all of their products related metadata in a structured way. Imagine if users could interact with products like they can now with Pages, but could also search, browse and compare products based on their metadata as well as their friends’ interactions with them. Imagine if developers could access, extend and display products in their apps and on their websites through an API.