2014 could be a make or break year for Facebook. With concerns like falling use by teens, the random nature of Facebook ads, and the wariness of users towards ads in general, how will Facebook manage its ever expanding reach as it approaches 10 years of operation?
The first problem (of many, depending on how much you dislike Facebook) is the coming implementation of auto-play video ads. These ads, already familiar to most who’ve browsed other parts of the internet, can be really intrusive. When Facebook is trying to do all it can to hold onto users for as long as possible, to get the ad impressions, driving users away with automatic video,could put a dent the bottom line.
However, most previous integrations of ads on Facebook have raised grumbling from users, but little else. Native ads, which are becoming an industry standard, are here to stay. And with internet users watching twice as many video ads as in January 2013, video ads are a bold gambit that could bring huge revenues.
Facebook is has some work to do in terms of building algorithms that serve timely and useful ads to its users. The company’s Graph Search, launched last August to a select few, has the power to turn Facebook into a service like Yelp. The edge Facebook has over Yelp, is that these would be reviews from your friends, neighbors and family. Graph Search could work to push Facebook out in front of other services, and with its improved search functions, could deliver ads with pinpoint targeting.
According to Wedbush Securities Analyst Michael Pachter, teens are just testing Facebook out. “Whether they use it every day or not isn’t the issue because the the site becomes more valuable as people get older,” he told Mashable.
Facebook has mostly become a way to stay connected with everyone you know. When those people are close, as they tend to be for most teens, the site is less useful. It may be the case that teens seem to be leaving, but perhaps they just don’t see a function they need right now. The so-called “flight” may just be users straying behind, not leaving.
With over a billion users, it’s unlikely that 2014 will be the last year of Facebook, not by a long shot. But we’ve seen it in the past where users slip away from a service as it changes against their interests. Without due care for its users when implementing changes, Facebook could drive away the very people it leverages to make a profit.
Image credit: mkhmarketing