Tell us more! How Facebook and partners will enrich their places data far beyond what Google can do without paying a cent


Summary: Facebook Places adds a “Tell us more” button to their Places profiles and this way will enrich their Places profiles to be more useful for the user. In addition, Microsoft’s Bing most likely will be able to use this as well in their search results, getting a huge advantage in the game. And Facebook won’t even have to pay a bit to use this, instead can monetize it fully, using the glass pearl principle. Question: When will Bing enhance their advertisement with the Social Graph?

A small little pop up got my attention today:


In the last months (well make that the last year in the US, but there is a rest of the world) we have been seeing a rise of Facebook with what I like to call “normal people”. Not only the moms and dads or the kids, but everyone. (You can call it mainstream, but as I never consider myself to be an earlier adopter, I prefer “normal people” as the ones which for most of my live have called me and my interests “weird”.)

And if you would ask them “do you use Social Media?” like surveys often do, they would deny categorically – because they don’t know what our name for this it. But they do use it. I recently was in a restaurant / café which has been open for 4 days and it already have 300 likes and 50 check-ins.

But the problem with such places is that a) users have to find them from the phone and b) there has to be some additional information like a photo etc. to make it ‘nice’. Now, this will be done by the users. Have a look at Berlin Central Station:


If you click on edit – a principle know kinda from that Wikipedia – you get this:


When sombody enters the geo information, next time I visit a place my mobile phone knows where to place me on the map. You would wish that the owners of the place would fill in the needed information, but they are slow to do so. Users on the other hand will. Maybe not always, but once in a while – more than enough if you have that kind of user base. By enriching the data, combined with the access of demographic data, likes, interests and more it is possible to build a profile of users which should be a privacy nightmare to everyone if you think about it.

For the platform it is a win. No need to buy these data to make the service more useful and the chance to sell more services around this? Awesome. Now Facebook not only has the information where you are but due to the Social Graph can connect the information with your friends and so much more.

Great! But is Facebook responsible enough?

Getting users to add data points like this, using any content the users upload for their own purposes for free and being able to sell it, a user base in the hundreds of millions and people willing to add all their personal information to allow targeted advertisement? No wonder this company is valued so high. Sadly, it is also the Glass Pearl Principle in action, currently on the negative side.

With power comes responsibility and so far there is a bit of a problem. From my – as friends like to say ‘schizophrenic – European point of view on privacy Facebook is on a very slippery slope of how to use data, especially when they come to countries outside the US which actually have data protection laws.

I believe Facebook needs to be very careful in the future how to handle it well enough. The mantra of Google to do no evil has a reason: it is good business.

Could somebody get Facebook a decent targeting team?

With power does not only comes responsibility to use data well, but also a responsibility it is common sense to behave professionally – and so far the advertisement on Facebook sucks.

I have been watching advertisement for some time now, talked to other users and advertisers. Users complained to me not only about irrelevant advertisement but also that feedback is not used, as I can confirm by personal experience. It may be that somebody pays a lot to have this add here, but most people hate irrelevant advertisement and are open to interesting advertisement.

Personal example: While I may be *cough* over the magic 4, I would like a button “no baby stuff please nor ‘trying to get a kid??'” and also no wrinkles and such ads. I clicked repeatedly on “uninteresting” as well as “misleading” and saw no change. I would happily click on advertisement if it was more targeted. Login in once in Denmark served me for two weeks with danish advertisement, though I never chose anything else than German or English as my user interface. That is unprofessional for any modern advertisement system. Back to the topic: They know so much about your movements, your interests etc, that companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon would have a field day and target me with useful advertisement.

Facebook on the other hand is the talented kid in the room which does not know yet how to use their talents. It is kinda okay but by no stretch of imagination at the point where it could be. Now imagine a professional partner like say Microsoft to make use of that data. Btw did you know that Microsoft does allow targeting based on demographics like Facebook does, in certain markets? Their problem is simple: Through MSN Messenger and a like they have a lot of data but in no way comparable to the riches Facebook has at their fingertips. And Google is like most other networks far far behind in getting those data, another reason why it made sense for Microsoft to invest in Facebook, just to hold off Google a bit.

How the social graph changes search

When I say the advertisement sucks, I am more referring to the fact it could be way better. What really is unusable is Facebook search. In all cases it is better to go to a real search engine, look for what you want and just add Facebook to it – the results are so superior it is not even funny. Better put: The Facebook results are so bad – I have constantly the question from fan page owners “It is gone!!” – no it is just not findable anymore for you.

But imagine, somebody who actually understands search would work with the riches Facebook has to offer … and use the social graph and the way advertisement can be done on their engine? For example the German market is strongly in Google’s hand, search wise. But what if Microsoft suddenly can use the Social Graph to enhance these results?

In case you’ve never seen the options when creating an advertisement:


You can basically say things like “only display ads to people from 20-25, female, living 80 miles from New York and are not yet connected to this” or – and that is even the worse one – only display ads to friends of users already connected with me the advertiser. So next time you do say “I like” on a brand, imagine your name being beneath any advertisement this person thinks of saying “(your name) likes this.”

Imagine this in combination with search results.

Positive or negative? We decide

As consumers and customers, even just as people we need to learn more about what companies are doing with our data and how they are using it, and we do need more control over it. Not to be negative on all, I am rather thrilled by the options even I as a blogger can get out of this, but there needs to be check and balance. For example, why not allow me a setting “this page can only use your name as endorsement for the page itself / third party / etc.”. If you educate well and you do no evil, most customers probably will help you. And you need to provide more for me than just glass pearls.  :)


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