Ad players say new features require new approaches.
Marketers say they are excited that Facebook's "like" and "recommended" buttons have company with a new set of verbs, such as "watch," "listen," "read," "hike," etc. The social site's users will soon be able to tap buttons for those verbs to describe their brand engagement with TV programs, music, books, and public places.
Such Facebook user activities will appear in the social site's ticker feature, which began surfacing yesterday as a complement to the news feed. Along with Facebook Places check-ins, the activities should create lightweight brand impressions in the way that "likes" and "recommended" have.
Data for the verbs will apparently be collected and reported as "likes" have, creating new engagement metrics. Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, said richer possibilities exist now for Facebook's Sponsored Stories ads.
"Those Sponsored Stories are not just going to be about me liking Samsung," he said. "They will be about me watching my favorite program on my Samsung device. They are going to be better stories. That's important for Facebook in terms of revenue generation."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes during his keynote address at the annual f8 developer conference on Thursday. He highlighted the company's partnership with digital music service provider Spotify. How Spotify will appear in the ticker is perhaps one of the niftiest aspects of the updated version of the open graph. For instance, when Facebook/Spotify users observe a friend listening to something on the music service, they can click and join the listening experience.
"We’re more than what we did recently," Zuckerberg said.
Mark Renshaw, chief innovation officer for Leo Burnett, questioned what the new multimedia features on Facebook would mean to marketers. "Is advertising part of that media?" he asked. "So is branded entertainment more in-the-now? The industry needs a bit [more information]."
Facebook advertisers will have to address more real-time conversation, Renshaw said. "In some cases, we're already having trouble getting clients to think in semi-real-time; so this is going to be another challenge," he said. "But it's also going to be another opportunity."
Schafer of Deep Focus said brands must start thinking about themselves in broader terms when it comes to Facebook. While companies need to begin paying more attention to app development, Schafer said content will play a bigger role now than in the recent past.
"Every brand and marketer is going to have to be a content programmer," he said. "They have to ask themselves if they are prepared for that. Are they prepared to create content, curate content, aggregate content? Can they give people the reason to engage with their brands outside the physical nature of their products [and find] the additional manifestation of their products that can exist between people?"
Reggie Bradford, CEO of Vitrue, said in an email to ClickZ that Facebook would see a new class of social apps focused on media and lifestyle in f8's aftermath. "And these social interactions will be activated automatically thanks to the evolved Open Graph that reduces permissions and creates a more frictionless experience," he wrote. "Basically it removes barriers. If a person tells people they’re wearing their Nikes, that info gets added to the user's Timeline automatically and becomes a part of their history, to be seen by whoever they give permission to see it."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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