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Time to Update the Old TOS, Facebook?

By - November 09, 2007

Is Facebook Ads illegal? Probably not, but …. one would hope this issue had been vetted prior to launch, given the launch was in New York…

There is at least one problem with this idea: It may be illegal under a 100-year-old New York privacy law. The statute says that “any person whose name, portrait, picture, or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained” can sue for damages. Moreover, such a use is also a criminal misdemeanor.

According to William McGeveran, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who wrote about these laws in a blog post today, the law would apply to Facebook users anywhere if the ad were displayed in New York. Arguably, it could apply if the ad was displayed on a computer screen within the state.

I doubt this is going to go very far, but at the very least it shows a lack of due diligence…a quick change in the TOS would have addressed this.

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Speaking of Steve…

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I noted earlier that our Web 2 conversation was among the best I’ve had the pleasure of moderating, and posted the video here. But the really good part was all the way at minute 21, which is a long wait. So I asked our video wizards at Good Productions to send me just the clip where Ballmer goes purple and talks about Microsoft search “dunking on the competition.” It’s priceless.

Why I Like Ballmer

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He’s so quoteable. On Google’s Android phone platform:

“So we have great momentum, we’ve brought our Windows Mobile 6 software to market, we’re driving forward on our future releases and we’ll have to see what Google does,” said Ballmer. “Right now they have a press release…”

Zuckerberg Interview

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I was involved in starting the Foursquare conference, a private media conference that takes place each year around this time in NYC. I’m not involved anymore, but I do pay attention to who’s there. This year Mark Zuckerberg and his CFO stole the show, it seems. There is not much press at the event, but this piece in Portfolio.com slipped out. The quotes are worthy of repeating:

First, financing. C.F.O. Gideon Yu told Portfolio.com today that the company is preparing to raise an additional $260 million to close its Series D financing round….

…[Facebook's ad system] will allow businesses to set up their own Facebook pages and then reach out to real, live users — that is, potential customers — based on the interests they have described in their profiles.

If those interests include not seeing advertising, that is too bad. “There is no opting out of advertising,” Zuckerberg said….””The ads are going to feel like content to a lot of people.”

…Asked why Facebook chose not to participate in Google’s new social networking consortium Open Social, Zuckerberg replied, “Who says we didn’t choose to be a part of it?”

In fact, he added, “We didn’t really find out about it until an hour after it launched.”

And then there’s this vignette:



At one point, Google co-founder Sergey Brin emerged from a side room at the conference, which was held at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, and headed straight for Zuckerberg. Bystanders held their breath, waiting for some kind of showdown.

But like a couple of championship boxers at a pre-fight weigh-in, they didn’t so much as acknowledge one another. Brin just smiled as he walked straight past Zuckerberg, who kept his gaze straight ahead.

Pay Attention: Google Is Leveraging

By - November 07, 2007

What to make of this?

We’d like to announce two changes to site targeting in Google’s content network. First, because site targeting now offers more precise targeting options, we’ve given it a more appropriate name: placement targeting. Second, we’re introducing a new cost-per-click bidding option so you can now pay per click or per impression.

Introducing placement targeting

When site targeting was first introduced two years ago, advertisers could search for specific URLs or topics to find individual sites in the Google content network and run their image and text ads on these sites. Over time, we’ve introduced other features like targeting by demographics and richer ad formats such as click-to-play video ads. Now, advertisers can target not only websites but also precise subsections of sites, such as the football pages of a news site, the show times section of a movie site, and even a specific ad unit (a block of Google ads) on a particular webpage.

Because of these new changes, we’ve changed the name from site targeting to placement targeting. The term “placement” can be used to refer to any site or subsection of a site that you choose to target. As the number of placements available for targeting continues to grow, you’ll have even greater control over the parts of the Google content network on which your ads appear.

As you move up the chain of value in the ad world, you must have a few things. You must have flighting – the ability to run ads at a specific time in a specific place on a specific site. And you must have service – the ability to change those flights when you want, as you want, and to learn what is working, what is not, and why. And, you must have integration – the ability to make your ads conversant with the flights you’ve bought.

Google, with this evolutionary move, is working on the first two of these key items. The company is still entirely focused on scaled, software driven approaches. But it’s working its way toward approaches that only work when humans are involved. Very interesting.

When Will The Spammers Arrive, Facebook's Gone Big Time. (So where are they?)

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My first big question on Facebook Ads: What’s in it for the average Facebook user? Dove right now has 35 fans. Saturn has about the same. I know, it’s been one day. But………when I used Google, there’s a value to me from the ads that is very very clear. Those ads were relevant, they were useful, they *added value to the dialog I was having with Google.* That value meant spammers came hard at the system, trying to game me into clicking on their links, but that was to be expected when so much value was out there in the open. Why aren’t there Facebook spammers? Well, because…there’s not any explicit value for the average Joe, is there? Or is there? What am I missing?

Day Two: Facebook Ads

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Well, the news is out, and it’s at least far more interesting than it was threatening to be. But it’s not as interesting as I wish it were.

But, for a small team cranking for four months time, it’s directionally very promising.

So what to make of it? First, I’ll assume readers are familar with the basics. If you want a refresher on what was announced, head here.

But I have some questions, the answers to which I’ve either missed in the coverage, or are so far not addressed. My guess is it’s the former, but in any case, before I write anything about it, I want to talk with Facebook folks. So I’m going to do more reporting first.

But on first review, I am impressed. The next step is much more difficult: will these prove out for marketers. At the end of the day, performance outs. Google proved it. Facebook has to as well.

What John Is Doing

By - November 06, 2007

Steaks

I’m tempted to say “I have no idea lately” but that’s not fair, I do. I’m nearly 100% focused on FM these days, and while it’s an honor to be pitched, daily, hourly, by search related companies looking for coverage on Searchblog, I simply can’t grok new search companies. Those of you who have suffered me these past months know, I am writing now about whatever turns me on, including search, but also ad models, facebook, privacy, whatever. I really wish I could write about pure search more. Why? Well, here’s a good reason. Really. I swear. The pitch headline was this: “Discovery Engine for Steaks.”

I really miss my days as a pure search writer. Man, that was so good, let me say it again: A Discovery Engine for Steaks!