Warning: sarcasm ensues.
We can’t escape it. Facebook needs to keep selling ads. Not just more, but also better. And not just better ads, but also better ways to show us all these ads we love so much!
Which gave me one of those neat ideas over morning coffee.
As you’re probably aware by now, “Facebook is running out of new places to force its ads and it’s now going to start throwing autoplaying videos into messenger.” (source)
Whether they do or don’t go ahead with this really good idea, it seems Facebook is making yet another attempt to humanize itself. You know those people who are constantly interrupting conversations? Facebook just joined the gang, and will now help make human conversations more natural.
The real reason for this decision, however, is simple. As a friend put it:
“Gotta sell those ads, Senator!”
Instead of focusing on mastering any internal revolt, let’s think about the quoted powerful fact-book of face-life above.
It becomes clear what Facebook must do:
Advertise all the things
Go ahead, Facebook. Sell those ads. Just don’t show the ads to users.
Here’s the idea: Facebook takes a small dump on ethics (they’re good at it) and automates this incredible fake results-producing, metric-creating system.
An evolved algorithmic environment where complex calculations correlate advertisement inputs with expectable outputs, and in charge of keeping in check the advertiser’s ROI.
It’s a simulation, but it’s also reality, like a rigged arcade machine: the advertiser pays to play, but will never win solely based on skill. While the game is being played, the machine is calculating probable outcomes according to many different elements.
Continuous positive results
You can’t allow anyone to win or lose too often, too consecutively. The system must be constantly learning, readjusting, and optimizing the rigorous profile it constructed for that unique profile of a single advertiser.
This means this state-of-the-art system is neither too generous, nor too ominous. In some days, it goes down, and results are excruciating to look at. The views and click-through rates will decrease. The advertiser falls down an adxistencial pit. Everything seems lost.
Cruelty must be balanced, however. Facebook can’t afford to be exceedingly cruel.
These negative results are nothing but challenging moments, set to strengthen the advertiser’s character, a reminder of the hardships of life.
They are quickly followed by a similar period or positive growth. When the advertiser will eventually decide to look at the weekly/monthly analytics, realizing that the campaigns are doing very well, overall, despite the lows.
Things look promising, and the advertiser is assured that the work has an impact: they are making their small contribution, and the world is now a better place.
If there’s no accessible indicator to demonstrate that the advertiser is constantly “winning,” the system fails.
Now we’re growth hacking.
Side-note: where is the ROI?
One could say there must be reinvestment to produce real return on investment, or “ROI”. For example, having me click the ad and visiting your landing page about soap isn’t enough: I should buy it as well.
While this could be tricky, I don’t see it as an impediment to anything. Basically, Facebook could have to occasionally acquire some goods from the brand. Maybe Jeff Bezos could share a few tricks, I don’t know. Food for thought.
In any case, if we assume the ROI of many advertisers is measured not in terms of final reflections in sales, but merely if the money’s worth the clicks and pageviews, then we’re more than fine. Consequently, real sales won’t make any difference.
In the end, irony takes over: the advertisers themselves are in the business of deceit, so this project seems naturally redeemed by its very own nature.
Here’s our “Win-Win-Win” situation:
#1 – Facebook wins more
Facebook starts selling more and better ads! More advertisers will use the platform, and more campaigns will be paid for. There shall be so much rejoicing that obtaining a 180% CTR will be nothing to be suspicious about.
Deceit analysis: the only people Facebook will be lying to are the advertising industry folks.
#2 – Advertisers win more
These advertising folks suddenly start obtaining more and better results: this means they get to keep their jobs (or even get a promotion!).
Long will be the days when they had to target and deceit the People (you and me, a.k.a. the common Facebook lab experiment).
Deceit analysis: the only people advertisers will be lying to is themselves… in some cases, their colleagues and bosses, albeit involuntarily.
#3 – WE, THE PEOPLE, WIN A LOT MORE
Humankind is now liberated from the ad-chains of Facebook campaigns. We’ll be spared of advertising entirely, finally able to enjoy the perks of Mr. Zuckerberg’s ultimate Social Network platform.
No longer harassed by those pesky ads, we can now contemplate the growing grass on the virtual peace of our own Farmville, and fulfill our ultimate destiny of individualistic detachment and numb, collective conformity.
Deceit analysis: no common mortal is being lied to.
I’m aware there might be flaws to this rusty model.
Some disapproving voices might say, for example:
What if the advertisers go for lunch, log in to their personal Facebook account, and then wonder why they see zero ads!? Won’t they realize this is nothing but a scam?
Yes, but… No?
Facebook must deploy a massive campaign in advance before launching such a Machiavellian scheme. They’d announce their revolutionary, micro-intrusive, contextualized-targeting algorithm-thingy, where targeting is perfected via machine learning and secret cryptomagick.
They’d also promote that advertisers won’t see the advertisements. If you already manage Ad campaigns, you’re entitled to be spared from the mundane ad-filled social networking experience (and if the advertiser needs to preview Facebook as a targeted account, you’ll have that option, too).
From the advertiser’s perspective, not seeing ads doesn’t make them privileged, it’s just logical that it works that way:
- They’re not the target (duh!). Obviously: the advertiser is the master, we are the puppet.
- They’re special. There’s a kind of tranquility derived from the feeling of having a superior, privileged social networking position. Consequently, advertisers will set themselves above others, so no need to make a fuss about it.
- They’re blind. Even if they were to see the ads, their brains will probably block them. The whole situation is so flattering, so immense, that there is no need to give any fucks about any principles or standards anymore.
Would this work? No clue.
But it’s only fair that those who target and trick me into buying their bullshit are targeted and tricked themselves into buying Facebook’s bullshit.