Facebook, Google, and Brand Bombing
Advertisements are everywhere--storefronts, snail mail, Web-based email, TV, radio, streaming media, social media, and just about every webpage you visit--and whatever one may think about them, they pay for just about everything, including those things we enjoy for free and rely upon on a daily basis.
Two of those things include Google and Facebook, and both are about to introduce us to heavier doses of branding.
Facebook, which has been gradually introducing more branded/sponsored content over the last year or so, is going to start putting sponsored content in your Newsfeed. According to comments made by Facebook spokesperson Annie Ta to ClickZ News, the social network will be introducing Sponsored Stories to Newsfeeds as early as next month.
Essentially, it’s a way for the brands you or your friends have liked or pages you’ve interacted with to reach you. "You will only see Sponsored Stories in your news feed about your friends or people you are connected to. You will never [see] a post from a page you are not a fan of, or from people who are not your friends," said Ta.
This is already occurring in a roundabout way; when a friend likes a page or checks in to a business, that can be turned into a de facto ad in your Newsfeed or on your ticker. You see “So-and-so likes Widgets R Us” and the company’s logo underneath the post.
Now, however, if your friends check into a Starbucks, you might just see a Sponsored Story for Starbucks in your Newsfeed. And you can’t opt out. Purportedly, these ads will have limits--Ta mentioned one per day--but that very well could turn into more.
Google, in an effort to direct Web traffic to its own Google+ social network, is putting brands’ Google+ Pages in regular search results. We knew this was coming, but now it’s gradually rolling out.
It of course makes sense that a brand’s social network page shows up in Google search results--that’s already been the case with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. However, the G+ result appears to rank higher, and in a different place, than it probably should.
For example, a search for “AT&T” brings up AT&T’s own website first, with some of the site’s sub-pages indented underneath. The company’s G+ page is under the sub-pages with the same indentation. Again, this makes some sense--the G+ page is an official AT&T page, so it’s nice to have it lumped in with other official AT&T pages, but so is AT&T’s Twitter feed and Facebook page--which are closer to the middle of the search results. (In a search for “Toyota”, the Facebook page doesn’t appear until the middle of the second page of results.)
Not only does the G+ page get included with the official company website, you can add the page to your G+ Circles, effectively ensuring that you’re on the hook for receiving messages from that brand. Further, the G+ Pages result includes a sentence or two with the link, giving brands a chance to throw out something like a promotion to draw you in.
In Facebook’s case, the social network is making money off of letting other brands bomb you. Granted, the brands you'll see more of are more likely to be ones you're actually interested in, and companies will no doubt offer some sweet deals and specials with this method, so there's a slight benefit there.
In Google’s case, the brand being bombed is Google itself. Google's money will come from increased Web traffic, which its competitors are not going to be happy about.