Facebook needs money?

Facebook’s sheer size and awful handling of monetization and evolution of its platform  has raised a number of awkward teenager moments for the site; indeed, I wrote about it repeatedly on my last blog. Two new reports from this past week about Facebook’s plans for modernization show a platform continuing to struggle with how they get the message out.

In the first report, Facebook is examining bringing video ads to their site, potentially configured to autoplay with audio. The allure is that Facebook knows its userbases’ ages, gender, likes and interests, meaning there could be unique targeting of ads and markets that bring it in line with what advertisers get from TV.

I’m not sure why Facebook would force it on users; indeed, I wonder why they don’t take a page from a lot of the app developers on their platform and share a cut of the ad revenue in return for people voluntarily watching them.  It could take the edge off, and the users would be more engaged. I find myself jumping past an increasing number of full-page takeovers, a frustrating continuation and expansion of the old Interstitial model that was part of Geocities’ decline 15 years ago. The wrinkle: Facebook’s demonstrating a mobile version.  Get ready.

The second: Facebook is testing a new function that would let users send a message to another user they’re not friends with for a $1 per message fee.  This would not be open to marketers or brands, they claim, but I call bull.  I get contacted on LinkedIn regularly thanks to my job, for all sorts of reasons, and I can easily see these same people spending $1 to try to catch me on Facebook.  But to see the other side, I could also see the benefit of this allowing people to reach someone they’ve met once at an event or something like that.

My question: Didn’t Facebook force email addresses on people awhile ago?  Where do those messages go; if anyone can use them, why does it cost $1?  Perhaps there’s some limitations on that, but it seems a bit weird.

Either way, it looks like Facebook again is dealing with perception issues and poor rollouts of information.  For a company their size, they seem to have an enormous problem with positioning and perception; other large tech companies like Apple and Google seem to have a much better handle on their messaging, and it’s something Facebook needs to get on top of quickly.

SOURCES: Ad Age via Siliconvalley.com, AllThingsD

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