June 29, 2011 —
Facebook launched yesterday a new ad format called “Comments”. The ad “draws from a Facebook Page’s posts to generate a display ad that poses a question beneath the ad’s content, inviting users to give their opinion or participate in a conversation. If users leave a comment, it can become visible to their friends as both a Sponsored Story and as a news feed story — the latter driving earned views and clicks of a brand’s content at no additional cost” according to Inside Facebook.
This new format is unique in any way and the first to be crowdsourced and not developed by Facebook. 100s of ideas were submitted and 5 were selected to be voted on by a panel- “Comments” the winning idea was submitted by Chicago agency Leo Burnett explains this article by Fastcompany.
This new format hopes to connect brands with consumers and for both to engage in conversations. It has the potential to create a lot of buzz around a brand- both good and bad. However, good campaigns are often popular and even become viral because they do not talk about a particular product or service. Good buzz is usually generated by a funny or particularly innovative campaign although exceptions exist.
Also, this new ad format assumes that people want to talk about ads and brands on Facebook. I’m not sure if this is true for most of the millions of users on Facebook. I’m pretty sure most people use it primarily to connect with friends and family and to play a few games during their spare time.
I’m wondering if an idea can work if it is developed by an agency?Facebook has asked for a crowdsourced solution from agencies not users. It is clearly an attempt to keep the advertisers on Facebook happy and not the users. In a recent article Econsultancy writes “developing an ad format that sells is not the same thing as developing an ad format that works. Brand advertisers love advertising; consumers generally don’t.”
I think this move from Facebook could potentially be a disaster. With recent reports saying that Facebook users are dropping off and leaving the social network, this new ad format may turn even more people off Facebook and consequently many brands. Together with Twitter, Facebook has been a place where consumers can engage with a brand should they wish to have a conversation. Now people go on Facebook and brands are in their face again begging for attention. Thanks a lot Facebook!