Hey Facebook, what’s in it for users?

The more I read about new features or services offered by industry leads such as Google, Facebook or Apple, the more I am asking myself: how is this providing a better user experience?

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With the launch of video advertising in its newsfeed in July, it seems pretty clear that Facebook is just becoming another advertising platform rather than providing a great social networking experience for its users. As a majority of the population is now comfortable browsing the web, sharing content and also purchasing online, companies are finally realising the need to shift their media buying and start to dramatically invest in digital advertising to target new or existing customers.

What’s new here? 
Well, the trend that is slowly invading social networking sites is that they would rather increase their revenue streams through offering more advertising options than improving users’ conversational & sharing experience. And this is specific to content generated websites, such as blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube and now… Facebook!
The reason behind this choice is that advertisers see more ROI when using contextual targeting. Meaning, as a user one is more and more likely to click on an ad and purchase an item online when seen within a content one is interested in e.g. displaying a cruise ad when you are reading travel tips to go to Fiji. Concerns are that this type of advertising is intrusive for the user, all the more that is it not sought by the user. Using your personal interests, location, cookies, and preferences is not enough, brands are now hungry for what you read, share and write about.

Fair enough, one will say this is the purpose of advertising. But, what about social media? Are we meant to accept a poor user experience on a site where we are the ones creating the content? Shouldn’t Facebook consider its users, since we are ultimately the ones that are making Facebook a successful business?

Source: Facebook looks to video ads as it seeks new revenue streams – Financial Times, May 6 2013

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