At the recent Facebook f8 developer conference, Facebook unveiled two new features: Timeline and Open Graph. Timeline, which is replacing the current profile pages, will highlight important photos, events, and activities. Open Graph, which will usher in a new era of apps, will enable Facebook users to easily share experiences together in realtime. Although Facebook will undoubtedly claim that these changes were primarily made to provide a better user experience, the higher levels of engagement and better data will result in revenue growth.
With the introduction of Open Graph and lifestreaming, Facebook users will be able to instantly share activities with their friends without being required to grant apps permission each time. As a result, Facebook users will be sharing more data with friends, Facebook, and marketing companies than ever before. With the help of Graph Targeting and the better dataset, marketers will be able to deliver specific marketing messages to the optimum target market.
Until now, marketers had to rely on Facebook users either checking in at a location or clicking “Like” in order to create a “Sponsored Story.” The Open Graph will now provide advertisers with many more opportunities to create Sponsored Stories through a variety of actions including: online purchases, playing a song, or watching a movie. Sponsored Stories, which convert at much higher rates than traditional internet advertising, place a friend’s endorsement on a product or service.
Gokul Rajaram, Facebook’s product director for ads, said the following regarding Facebook’s ads:
“Marketing on Facebook is all about social discovery, which is how you learn things from your friends.”
Although the new advertising options are exciting for internet marketers, these options will require a change of marketing strategy. In the past, most marketers simply encouraged Facebook users to “Like” a brand. Now, marketers will have to facilitate the “social discovery” of brands using the new data and compelling advertisements that introduce the social aspect of advertising.
In addition to the new features and partnerships, Facebook announced they now have over 800 million active users. This number, along with the recently developed features, should help Facebook exceed the $3.8 billion of projected revenue for 2011.