Oh, Facebook!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Looks like we’re not quite there with respect to contextual advertising.  The image above comes from my Facebook profile the other day.  Facebook’s much bally-hooed advertising platform is supposed to understand who I am and then figure out ads to push to me.

Here’s who I am: a Canadian who now lives in America (previously Toronto) and is engaged.  As a result, I get the ad on the right for “T.O. Wedding Photographer” (“T.O.” being Canadian for Toronto).  Not too shabby-although given that these pop up all the time and I never click on them, you’d think Facebook might find a different type of ad to serve me.

But maybe they have.  After all, I now get the ad on the left suggesting that I can have my criminal record removed.  Except that I don’t have a criminal record - but I am a Canadian who lives in the States and has friends in Canada so presumably I cross the border a lot and therefore maybe this ad would be relevant.  Net result, they’ve gone from serving me crappy ads (wedding photographers) to offensive ads (suggesting I have a criminal record).

I’m sure that eventually Facebook will come up with a great contextual advertising platform (after all, they have to justify their $15 billion valuation), but right now neither the technology nor the advertisers are there.  Also, note that I’m actually noticing these ads (most places I just tune them out), so they’ve got a fighting chance here.

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