I’ve now had the chance to play with the new Facebook advertising products, the Facebook pages and the new Social Ads. Facebook pages give businesses, brands or celebrities the opportunity to build, for free, a profile page similar to user profile pages. Facebook users can then become “fans” with these new entities and contribute content to that page. The business can also send messages to its fans, create events, upload photos & videos, and start conversations in their wall. To trial the system from a SME point of view, I’ve created a Facebook page for my favorite local butcher “La Maison du Roti” (I know one of the owners).
As you can see, the page offers all the basic functionalities of a user profile for a business. The merchant can then choose to buy advertising to promote that page within the Facebook network including socio-demographics, keywords and local targeting (see screenshot below). In this instance, I could potentially reach 553,580 Montreal Facebook users with my Maison du Roti ad (although I’m not sure all these Montreal users are active). The ad looks like a Google Adwords ad. You can also set your budget based on CPM or CPC.
What it means: for those of you that have been in the directory business long enough (I’m talking about you Perry!), you’ll remember the infamous one-page microsites (or 2-page, or 5-page) that were sold to SMEs worldwide for many, many years before the industry realized it was better at selling online media products. The next generation of those microsites were free search-engine indexable merchant pages found within directory sites. Well, the Facebook pages are just that: a one-page microsite but it is only “indexed” within Facebook.
I think the product will be very successful with national brands but I think it will be very challenging for Facebook to get small merchants to use self-service tools to buy advertising, let alone build their own profile. Local media partners (directory publishers, newspapers, etc.) or local SEM firms (ReachLocal, Weblistic, etc.) will be required to get any major local advertising traction on Facebook. There is tremendous potential but I wonder how much SME pull there is out there to advertise on Facebook (vs. Google for example). We’ll just have to see what happens in the next few weeks to measure the potential success of the initiative.