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Ad Age Survey Does NOT Bode Well For Online Advertising

Ad Age Survey: Marketers Love Facebook, But Many Have No Idea If Their Ads Work

The main point of this article in AdAge is:  

"The results were a mixed bag for Facebook that illuminated some of the challenges it will have in scaling ad revenue, but it also indicated that some of Facebook’s perceived challenges with marketers — such as not providing enough transparency and data — are overblown.

The results also revealed confusion on how to calculate return on investment on Facebook and how to compare that to spending in other social and traditional media channels.

Remarkably, Ad Age readers surveyed speak in virtual unison on two questions. Nearly 86% of those surveyed say they currently use Facebook as a marketing tactic. Only 55%, however, say they currently advertise on Facebook, and nearly 88% said they would implement Facebook content without advertising at all.”

As a business that tried to get the word out about our own site via Facebook - and had MISERABLE results.  The thing is - I don’t know if that is advertising in general - or just the limits of Facebook advertising.  Because you cannot have a slick agency design your Facebook ads - because they don’t have regular advertising options (which may be the factor that wins the social media war for Google+ in the long run - if they can exploit that. 

But I find this all interesting - because only six months ago - people said to us - don’t worry about how you are going to make your money - just get users.  And now, suddenly everyone looks at us skeptically and says - so - your revenue model is advertising - right?

Golly Gee Whiz it makes me so happy to be able to tell them NO.  I feel like some days we are too smart for our own good.  :)

Filed under social media entrepreneurship fundraising vc startup tech facebook facebook ads social networking

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What Will I.P.O. Mean For Facebook’s Next Act?

(Very proud of this - my first post as a Contributing Writer for Forbes.com) 

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) can mean many different things for the future of a business. The (rumored-to-be-imminent) IPO for Facebook - the company that harnessed the collective conscious - is one that will be watched more closely than any other.  And that interest will come not only by those with the means to participate in the IPO, but also the almost one billion people who have made the social network a part of their every day existence. 

As a tech entrepreneur who was directly inspired by the Facebook story (the idea for our site was literally “hatched” while reading “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick) every twist and turn of the firm’s journey has – so far – seemed to be part of a master plan.  That is a pretty impressive feat.  Especially for Mark Zuckerberg, the young CEO who has said himself, "I have made so many mistakes - any mistake you can think of, I’ve made it. But if you’re building a product that people love, you can [afford to] make a lot of mistakes." (The Telegraph)

However, these days, great success is always in danger of being overshadowed by backlash from the unpredictable beast of public opinion.  It is something even Facebook has proven cannot be controlled.  And, that is what makes this continuing saga so compelling. 

The drama Aaron Sorkin amped up to Academy Award levels to tell the beginning of the Facebook tale in “The Social Network” now seems like mere child’s play.   The high stakes that currently weigh on the shoulders of twenty seven year old Zuckerberg (who has turned in the most flawed “flawless” performance in recent business history), are spellbinding.  They have the power to turn mere entertainment into myth. 

The screenwriter in me cannot help but wonder what the initials IPO serve to foreshadow for the future. 

IPO - Immense Pay Out

With expectations of a $75 billion to $100 billion valuation one thing is for certain, the winners of a Facebook IPO will be many.  Besides Zuckerberg and the firm’s early partners, angels and employees, venture capital firms like Greylock Partners, Accel Partners, Meritech Capital Partners will have boasting rights to arguably the most prescient investments in history. 

IPO - Inflated Price Obligations

In the midst of an ongoing global financial crisis (economists may differ with that assessment, but the average “Facebook Citizen” will not), the tech industry has been a prop for politicians and portfolio managers alike in assuring investors that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Recent tech IPOs have faltered under this pressure.  Zynga finally clawed its way back above its IPO price last week, buoyed more than 5% by the Facebook IPO rumors (evidence by how much of the tech industry’s future is riding on a successful Facebook IPO).  And Groupon’s stock chart resembles the tracks of the Kingda Ka, steeply falling off after it’s initial public offering, but also climbing slightly above its debut price again last Friday. 

Where Facebook pegs its worth will likely matter very little in the initial days and weeks following the IPO – portfolio managers frothing at the mouth all but guarantee the upward trajectory of a space shuttle.  But, as any asset manager can tell you, money flooding into a product at a tsunami-like pace is hardly ever a good thing long-term. 

IPO - Imminent Privacy Obstacles

The notoriously secretive company guided by a CEO who has maintained controlling power against all odds, will soon be required to be more transparent than ever before.

Facebook’s greatest successes have been driven by the vision of the man who said in a 2009 interview “The level of transparency the world has now won’t support having two identities for a person.” (“The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick).  Likewise, the level of transparency the firm will soon be subject to will also not allow for two identities, and corporate culture is about as easy to turn as the Titanic was. 

IPO - Innovation Played Out

Mistakes concerning public reactions to privacy changes and user interface upheavals have been the cost of innovation. Zuckerberg has embraced this fact, and as he himself has said, it is necessary to be fearless in the face of possible mistakes to build a product that people love.  This approach has proved both his genius and his humanity. 

But continued innovation will no longer require only the fearlessness of a small group of investors.  $10 billion may represent only a fraction of the company’s value, but blue chip stocks do not often roll the dice on the whims of innovation.    

IPO - Inspiring Path (Obviously)

Apple Computer went public in December 1980, only four and a half years after Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded it.  In the decades since, both the firm and Jobs blazed a trail through tech that saw more twists and turns than even Aaron Sorkin could dream up.

Zuckerberg’s idea for an operating platform for the web was as groundbreaking in 2004 as the idea of an operating platform for computers was in the late seventies. Vision on that level is sometimes unstoppable even by the market forces that conspire against it.  But for entrepreneurs in the trenches across every industry, the Facebook IPO – no matter what its outcome – validates the mantra we repeat every day,  “Go big or go home”. 

Filed under entrepreneurship social media social networking tech facebook