Facebook Brand Exec: RIP Traditional Marketing

How social networks (might) transform ads

When Facebook's brand experience manager Paul Adams took the stage today at the Geo Loco conference, he outlined one of the most-hyped scenarios for local advertising. Imagine walking down the street, he said, and every time you get close to a store, they can push an offer or marketing message onto your phone.

"It's a really stupid idea," Adams said.

So why are businesses and marketers enamored with it? Adams said it's because they aren't thinking from "a people perspetive." Of course businesses like to push advertising to potential customers who are nearby. But if you're the customer in question, you'd quickly become inundated with marketing messages.

It's part of the broader theme that Day outlined during his talk, where he said advertising is going to change dramatically. To illustrate the change, Day showed a cartoon where a business is asking people to buy its product while their friend tells them not to. Obviously, the friend's advice will win out, Adams said—"People listen to their friends. They don't listen to businesses." And as the Web becomes more social, it's going to be harder and harder for a traditional ads to circumvent that process.

"All this massive information is going to be filtered through your friends," Adams said. Instead of trying to broadcast their message to a wide swath of consumers, marketers need to think about reaching these small groups of social influence. And that means "the era of push marketing is over, or it's ending."

Adams acknowledged that in some ways, he's highlighting trends that are not new, and that word-of-mouth marketing has a long history. The difference, he said, is that these processes have always been largely intuitive. Now, marketers can actually measure their effectiveness.

During the question-and-answer session, someone in the audience wondered whether Adams' assertions always hold up. Are friend recommendations really that important when you're making a big purchase. Wouldn't htat decision be driven by research and facts?

We only think those decisions are driven by facts, Adams countered: "We're not rational creatures. We're emotional creatures."

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