Facebook Armageddon or a New Frontier for Customer Engagement?

Facebook Armageddon

Unless you’re still sticking to a New Year’s resolution to fast from social media, you’ve probably heard that Mark Zuckerberg is making big changes to ads in the Facebook News Feed.

If this is news to you, here’s a link to Mark’s announcement.

Panic attacks are spreading through offices all over the world today faster than this year’s flu strain.

News stories with headlines like “News Feed Armageddon” and “Digital Apocalypse” aren’t helping anxiety levels for marketers who are hopelessly addicted to the low CPM’s and CPC’s of those wonderful, targeted Facebook ads.

My marketing team has a very robust Facebook ad strategy. It’s a significant part of every Customer Journey Mapping campaign that we execute. But am I panicked? Not at all because any change that improves the customer experience is ultimately going to create better opportunities for advertisers to effectively engage customers.

Here We Go Again

This isn’t the first time a major advertising opportunity has been pulled from under our feet.

Google Removes Sidebar AdsWhen sidebar ads on Google search result pages were first introduced, advertisers had some success with them. But engagement rates fell and Google was paying attention. When they saw the drop in early 2016, they wisely pulled sidebar ads from the menu.

Marketers who depended on that digital real estate panicked but the money they were spending was being wasted. People weren’t paying attention anyway!

Impressions don’t matter if they don’t register in the mind of the consumer, causing them to engage with it.

The Attention MerchantsIn the best-selling book, The Attention Merchants, Tim Wu wrote: “…there is one thing scientists have grasped that is absolutely essential to understand about the human brain…our incredible, magnificent power to ignore.

Those Google sidebar ads worked for a while until they didn’t. Many other ad placement opportunities work for a season and then marketers need to move on. Tim Wu calls this the “disenchantment effect” when “a once entrancing means of harvesting attention starts to lose its charm.

But this is why I love marketing! It’s never boring! Over the 20 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had to shift, pivot, or completely reinvent our strategies every 3 months. I wouldn’t want to do the same thing the same way year after year.

Yes, there will be a learning curve as we figure out the new ad opportunities Facebook will roll out but I’m convinced that marketers who adopt them early and deliver clever, engaging, native ad content will eventually be grateful for this change.

A Win-Win-Win-Win Scenario

Instead of panicking, consider interpreting today’s announcement as a win-win-win-win. When customers are served ads that they engage with, the customer enjoys the experience (win #1), the advertiser gets the exposure (win #2), the platform the ad is served on gets paid (win #3), making the shareholders happy too (win #4).

Consider the Irony

I only wish that every advertising platform would follow suit. Consider the irony that most of the news articles covering this story are hosted on web pages that are full of aggravating interruption ads (ads that don’t work and should’ve been on the chopping block years ago).

  • CNN’s article (I don’t recommend clicking on that link) forces us to watch a Battlefront II video trailer that can’t be skipped, paused, or muted. If you’re going to visit this site, I recommend that you get familiar with the location of the mute button on your keyboard first.
  • Inc.’s article has a large ad at the top that takes up 1/3 of the webpage and then, as you scroll down, a couple pop-up ads get in your way and a few sidebar ads will clutter your view
  • Business Insider’s article also has a massive ad at the top
  • And don’t even get me started on everything that is wrong with USA Today’s article

Wasting MoneyEvery time I visit web pages like these, I wonder when the advertisers who are paying for those placements will realize they’re wasting their money.

If only every ad platform put the Customer Experience first like Facebook did today.

Instead of panicking, let’s get excited about finding and creating more effective ways to engage customers on Facebook and the many other advertising channels available to us.

Don’t worry, it’s all good!

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