Most of the blog coverage of yesterday’s Facebook Developer Garage focuses on the above functionality changes and is missing the real beef of what’s going on. The changes in the Facebook Platform Policy are much more important than the functionality changes.
Zynga is the master of viral distribution and many others copy their best practices (one notable exception being Playfish, who is quite reserved on their viral features). If I were to exaggerate, Facebook has taken a long hard look at what Zynga and its copycats do and decided to forbid many of their most successful practices:
What Zynga is showing is that it is willing to copy, then innovate on high-quality games perfected by others, and use its market size, cash, and optimization techniques to do that. Its cross-promotion efforts include strategically placed buttons for Café World in other games, including hits like FarmVille, Mafia Wars, YoVille and more. In terms of money, we’ve heard from multiple sources that Zynga is spending $50 million on Facebook ads this year. Meanwhile, Zynga isn’t just coming out with quality new games. It keeps pumping out new versions of existing games, like its recent expansions of Mafia Wars.
Social game leader Zynga are reportedly spending $50MM/year to advertise on Facebook. From an advertising perspective, it is a slam dunk: highly targeted prospects with easy, immediate conversion opportunity and positive reinforcement (the viral part of the game) encouraging repeat business. It will be interesting to see what kind of site changes Facebook is going to be willing to make to improve the experience for game companies like Zynga.
It has been interesting for me to see friends and family in the 50+ age bracket get addicted, er, involved, in the Mafia Wars and now Farmville. These games have brought a lot of dedicated users to Facebook from a demographic that Facebook is not necessarily targeting. The game companies are in a unique position as a source of acquisition and ad revenue. And the opportunity for more revenue with intelligent virtual economy partnerships.
Side note: Inside Social Games is a pretty good site. Seems like a natural acquisition / partnership with the larger tech news sites.
This begs the question will there be two webs -- The AM web
and the FM web? The answer is yes and it already exists. The FM web is where we
go to for rich media experiences - videos, gaming – where we go to have fun. Because these
experiences immerse us, the type of marketing should be different. The AM consumption
behavior to ‘get what we need and move on’ lends itself much better to DR where
in more immersive digital experiences brand messages should wash over so we
recall them as we walk through the supermarket.
This brings us back to the misalignment. Revenue starved publishers
and budget hungry advertisers have been infatuated with demand gen dollars for
display and have gone so far as to rip DR a new one (while gladly
taking their ad network backed money). This desire for more media budget has
also manifested a false and unaccountable sense that DR ads diminish the publishers
own brand value. It’s all a bunch of crap both from a user sentiment perspective and
The lesson is that understanding the way people consume
media is paramount to optimizing it for revenue generation both with your
original content and your advertiser content.
Jonathan Mendez has a nice analogy of FM and AM radio advertising and the web. Different content and different audiences require the different ad content and types; trying to fit one size to all is not working.
I know Sony thinks they've done the right thing. They probably had 30 people -- developers, designers, front end engineers, copywriters, editors, sys admins, the button pushers -- stop everything, wake up in the middle of the afternoon, and get this heartfelt static home page up:
I think a better response would have been a brief message of sympathy and sorrow and then let the fans comment with their stories and memories. It's Michael Jackson dot com goddamnit, not Sony dot com led by Sir Somebody.
This isn't a rant about social media, it's just the way the world now works. Let people share.
Lauren Kozak is a smart, experienced marketing pro who understands the social media landscape as well as anyone. I love her honesty and insights. My favorite comment is her advice to ignore what the pundits say and do what's right for your brand.