Facebook recognizes need for social, simplicity in social advertising

Today, Facebook announced a new road map for its social advertising solutions. Over the coming months, Facebook will evolve its ad offerings to:

Focus on business objectives. “Do Facebook advertising” is not a business object unto itself. Social advertising broadly, and Facebook advertising specifically, is just one piece of a broader mix of options to reach new audiences. Facebook plans to help marketers align their spending to their business objectives by offering solutions specifically for brand marketers, online retailers, and other types of advertisers.

Make social ads more social. Facebook’s data shows that ads on its site work better when they contain a social component (e.g., ‘your friend Nate likes this brand’) — so soon, all Facebook ads will contain social elements by default. This is part of a larger trend to make social advertising more personal than traditional display advertising.

Simplify its advertising options. As Fidji Simo, Facebook Ads Product Manager, said today, "it should be simpler." Today, Facebook offers a veritable Chinese menu of ad units that frankly confuse most marketers. To simplify ad buying, Facebook plans to slash its existing number of ad units in half to create a simpler ad-buying experience.

My and Nate Elliott’s take: It’s good news that Facebook is taking the first steps from Facebook-centric offerings to advertiser-centric offerings. (And not a minute too soon: Over the next six months, we expect robust new social advertising offerings from Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and others — links are to announcements.) But today’s announcement was only an announcement; to stay ahead of the pack, Facebook will need to move quickly and put the ideas we heard about today into practice for marketers. Of course, this move shows that Facebook still thinks of itself primarily as a media outlet. But in reality, marketers will finally realize the value Facebook has to offer when it starts to recognize that its real value lies in its customer data and helps marketers use that data to achieve specific business goals tied to the customer life cycle. 

The full Facebook announcement is available here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on both the announcement and social advertising broadly, either in the comments or on Twitter: @ZacharyRD