Facebook's Intrusive New Ad Campaign Won't Win Friends

I know a lot of people complain about the advertising on Facebook, but I barely notice it's there. Those highly-targeted-to-me boxes running down the sidebar? Meh, I typically scan right over that stuff.

Unfortunately, according to a report over at TIME.com, Facebook's ads are about to get a lot harder to ignore. The latest rumor about what the social media giant is offering to advertisers: the ability for companies to insert their updates in my feed—whether I "like" them or not.


Apparently one of Facebook's marketing plans got leaked, and the details about the upcoming ad announcement have hit the web. The idea is that companies will now be able to expand their advertising reach to networks of friends.

It's said to work like this: currently if you "like" a company on Facebook, you see their updates in your newsfeed. That makes sense, right? Well, the new ad model will allow companies that your friends like to insert their stories into your feed.

In other words, if you're friends with Jimmy and Jimmy likes Acme Robots, you may start seeing updates about electro-mechanical machines in your newsfeed.

Okay, that's probably not the best example for why this is going to suck—I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords—but I think we can mostly agree that the idea of getting marketed to by the companies our friends like is a drag. I might have a specific instance where I want to know what brands my friends are devoted to (if I'm in the market for a new vacuum, say), but in general I don't want their companies to spam me.

Perhaps more importantly, I don't want the companies I like to spam my friends. Facebook reportedly promises this new practice will lead to a “40% increase in engagement” and that these ads will be “80% more likely to be remembered,” but I'll tell you how it will get me to engage: I'm going to stop "liking" businesses, for fear they'll market to the people in my network.

I can definitely understand why Facebook would offer this to brands. The average Facebook user has between 150-300 friends, so that means lots and lots of eyeballs for any advertisement they throw out there. Plus, having an advertising message show up in our feeds is more likely to get noticed—we tend to read status updates, even if we ignore those boxes on the side.

Still, this new ad model is bound to make using Facebook a little less fun. I doubt it will be intrusive enough to make people stop using Facebook altogether, but it just might discourage people from visiting as often as they used to. Not that it'll matter much—with 850 million worldwide users, the company can surely stand to lose a few clicks and still do just fine.

What do you think about this new Facebook ad plan? Would it cause you to defriend people or change whether you "like" businesses?

Image via Facebook

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