Facebook and advertising or why Facebook is a dead man walking part III?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two things got me thinking about Facebook this week. Since I have changed my location on my Facebook profile to Hong Kong the bulk of the adverts I have seen have been in Chinese. Now you could argue that the model should also look at the langauge I use for Facebook; but many people in Hong Kong are bilingual so there is a limited gain. Chinese language is fine, because they seem to be the same irrelevant stuff I got when my profile location was in the UK:

  • Credit cards
  • Mobile phones
  • Variants on the usual e-commerce model

However the irrelevance of Facebook adverts confronted me with this suggested post.
WTF Facebook .jpg
The additional problem that I have with this is that the big spenders of the advertising world like consumer packaged goods brands I’ve worked with would probably be leery about putting their advertisements next to one with a URL indicating likely adult content. It wouldn’t happen on Google because of the context dependent nature of the search page.

The second thing was when I took time to reflect on the the BBC’s study into socio-economic classes in the UK. Here is some of the data:

‘Class’Tend to socialize exclusively with people like themselvesPercentage of UK populationAverage age
Established middle classNo2546
Technical middle classYes652
New affluent workersYes1544
Traditional working classYes1466
Emergent service workersNo1934

This data was interesting to me, because it said that for a significant minority of the UK population (those with a wide range of friends), the Facebook model may be a logical fallacy.

The precariat are the least economically active if we take them out of the equation the numbers change again:

‘Class’Tend to socialize exclusively with people like themselvesPercentage of UK population advertisers are likely to care aboutAverage age
Established middle classNo29.4146
Technical middle-classYes7.0652
New affluent workersYes17.6544
Traditional working classYes16.4766
Emergent service workersNo22.3534

When we look at two other factors the numbers become even more stark:

Average age54.7540
Percentage of the UK population48.2451.76

So from a marketing point-of-view the friends model poses two problems: it appeals to consumers with a lower lifetime spend in them (this depends what you are selling) and you are addressing less than half the population you care about (and that includes bottom-feeding brands like pay-day loan companies).

On the bright side as a marketer using Facebook in the UK you may be that bit closer to the old marketing conundrum attributed to William Lever, Viscount Leverhulme of Lever Brothers fame:

I know which half of my advertising is working, I just don’t know which half.


More information
BBC – The Great British class calculator
Why Facebook is a dead man walking
Why Facebook is a dead man walking part II?
Why Facebook is a dead man walking part 2.5?