If you use Gmail, then you are probably aware that the content of your emails is scanned and adverts based on keywords are placed in your browser. For example, if you recieve an email about a friends baby then you will likely see adverts about nappies and baby food.
Facebook look set to take this one step with real time adverts based upon status updates. The aim is to place an advert on your Facebook page as soon as you publish something – so if you post on your wall that you are going out for a meal tonight, Facebook will offer you vouchers for local restaurants. Or if you post that your car is due an MOT, then local garage adverts will immediately appear.
This real-time contextual advertising is certainly unsettling, but it is the direction the internet has to take. Advertising is the only real revenue stream for the internet, and billions are being spent on how to perfect the algorithms behind making people part with their cash. Check out the example below from one of the test subjects:
I can’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable about the new advertising campaign by Coca-cola.
Teaming up with Google AdMob (the advertising arm of Google), Coca-cola have released an interactive wallpaper for smart phones that turns your device into a branded snow globe.
Of course, the only people that will have it on their phones will be people that choose to download it from the marketplace.
However, what I find troubling about this home-screen takeover is that this could be the start of a new intrusive advertising trend by Google.
As Greg Sterling, principal at Sterling Market Intelligence, has said ‘iPhone probably wouldn’t do this homescreen takeover’.
Is this going to be the next step in Google’s advertising campaign?
Might Google allow a sponsor to advertise on home-screens without asking people their permission first?
And with the new Google operating system just around the corner, will adverts become part of our web-based desktop?
I don’t think the answer will be yes. Not straight away anyway. Google know that they can go up to the limit but shouldn’t ever cross the line.
With Facebook announcing a major new messaging system (codenamed Project Titan) and Google snapping up acquisitions all over the place (83 so far) – what is the fundamental difference between these two giants of cyberspace?
The answer lies in the kind of data that they both deal in.
Facebook lets you tell the world all about you – what you ‘like’ about culture, companies and people. It is data that you want to give away so that you can show other people just how much of an individual you are.
Google, on the other hand, is a lot more personal than that. It is about what you really get up to when it is just you and the computer. It stores data about everything from your embarrassing rash to your sexual desires.
As Sebastian Anthony puts it:
‘Facebook knows who we want to be, while Google knows who we actually are.’
We could see this as Facebook being all about your public self, whilst Google is all about your private self.
Of course, the bottom line for the companies involved is all about how this fundamental difference affects revenue. Facebook advertises to your public self, and Google advertises to your private self.
The question now is whether Project Titan will change this fundamental difference by reading your Facebook emails and targeting adverts (something which Google already do).
This would be an advertising model based on both your private and public identities. Priceless to marketers, but something that I find unsettling.