From “I Am Media” to “I Am Advertising”

To finish this week’s series on business models atomization, I’d like to address the situation where media has been completely atomized. I think that happens when individuals start becoming media themselves, broadcasting “news” through their blogs, Twitter tweets or their Facebook status updates. That concept, explored last summer in my famous “I am Media” blog post really resonated through the blogosphere. What I missed at the time was the corollary:

If I am Media, I am also Advertising.

I remember being very annoyed by the first Facebook Beacon implementations. I gave them a good scolding and wasn’t happy with the way I was depicted, becoming a “Blockbuster spokesperson”. My friend Perry challenged us to think further about these experiments. In my blog post comments, he said: “In order for them to win, urgently, they need to push the envelope on new ad product models. I think the model of stepping “meaningfully” over the line and then back gets them more forward motion.” He was right but I’m not sure the Facebook folks have learned anything yet…

Facebook Beacon is an amazing idea but it’s really badly executed. In a world where individuals can become media, Beacon could be the “AdSense for People” but it needs to be completely reversed.

Facebook should:

  1. Give user control over which ad appears in their newsfeed (i.e. which brand/service you’re endorsing) and when it appears.
  2. Share revenues with the user using a performance-based model.

There are obviously a couple of massive challenges with this model. The first one is Facebook does not yet have the inventory of word-of-mouth ads to make it really interesting for users. The second one is “spwom”, individuals “selling out” to brands they don’t believe in, which would be the equivalent of spam for word-of-mouth recommendations. But I believe there might come a time when recommenders get rewarded for talking about their favorite products or places…

One thought on “From “I Am Media” to “I Am Advertising”

  1. In any case, there is no way that stepping the line by using unvoluntary spokemen (like you and Blockbuster) can’t backfire at some point. This is bad for the brand.

    This specific tactic didn’t have to wait for Facebook to be tested (and proved failure): just take any picture of walking pedestrian in “real life” and make an advertisement about this anonymous face promoting your product in Time or USA today to see it backfired.

    I guess, 100 years of advertising knowledge shouldn’t be wiped out just because we “found a new continent where these rules doesn’t apply”.

    That said, your minimum requirement should be standard –obviously.

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