Image courtesy: Mark Krynsky | Flickr
Rewind to 1999. I was working in an advertising agency then, running their web & interactive services division. It started then: the footer of almost every print advertisement, the last frame of any TV ad, and the last 5 seconds of a radio spot- were reserved for the company or product's URL. No marketing manager worth his 4Ps would be caught dead without a URL. And web design shops were sprouting up faster than mushrooms.
Now imagine if someone (say, Google) had the power to display advertising on each and every one of those company & product websites and of course, charge for it. Sounds inconceivable?
Back to the present...
Notice something about magazine ads these days? The product URL, while still popular, is fast being supplemented, and in some cases entirely replaced by a new kind of URL - that of their facebook fan page!
This year, in a period of about 6 months, the number of facebook users grew 25% - from 400mn to 500 million! 500 million users is over 25% of the world's online population.
But there's a more fantastic statistic on facebook: 300% growth.
When we were going through facebook fan pages (for our app, Eyes And Feet) in March, we counted approximately 4mn facebook fan pages. This month, we counted 16mn. That's a 4 fold increase in 5 months. And this number will only explode - especially with the launch of facebook places, and businesses being encouraged to 'claim their place' and convert it to a 'facebook page'.
Facebook's "global domination plan" has been here all this time & staring at us in the face- it's Facebook pages!
As Facebook pages become more ubiquitous and as more brands, products & businesses mention this as "their URL", that's more power to Facebook. The big big big difference here is that the pages are hosted on Facebook, by Facebook! That's NOT the same as your 'under your control' webpage on your friendly neighborhood web server. Facebook's recent announcements to do away with boxes on fan pages, the changes in tab widths, improvements to FBML, are all steps in this direction - to help make your facebook page your new brand URL!
And once your Facebook page is an integral part of your brand, would you want other products randomly advertising to your customers on your fan page? Only, it's not your choice anymore - Facebook reserves the right to display anything they want on "your" page, and there's nothing you can do about it. Unless you pay...
I won't be surprised if, as a part of their fan page monetization strategy, Facebook charges brands for 'no ad fan pages' depending on the number of fans they have. In fact, I think something of this nature may already be happening. The five leading brand fan pages on Facebook are Starbucks, Coca Cola, Oreo, Skittles & Red Bull. Oreo's fan page looks cluttered - thanks to the 'random' ads on the right. None of the other 4 seem to have ads!
Hmmm. Welcome to the new www. Guess who Verizon will have their next net neutrality conversation with.
[written by Lux, founder of Eyes And Feet - Get more customers from social media for your local business]