Facebook’s ad targeting is powered by biographical and interest data from users, allowing advertisers to target audiences who may be more interested in their products or services. In December 2010, Facebook launched a profile redesign that shifted biographical information into the default profile view, and with the announcement of Timeline, a user’s media consumption is immediately visible and will provide even more of this targetable data.
Friend.ly has developed a fantastic, natural, and social way for users to engage and share this same type of data. Now that Facebook has acquired Friend.ly, they will more than likely apply friend.ly’s team to creating a similar feature within future Facebook products.
There’s always room for feature improvement, and there are certainly some products that could use work, such as Facebook’s ad for Pages and for the Suggested Pages sidebar feature – both of which suggest Pages for users to Like. These products are dry; it’s more of a chore to follow a suggested Page rather than an entertaining way to express oneself. Facebook has already taken action on a similar form of “dry resistance”, removing the “Add Interests” step during new user registration. The intention is for friend.ly to help rebuild and improve it.
If Facebook was to integrate a user’s interests into Page ads, we could see relevant, compelling questions, allowing for a higher conversion rate that brands would pay more for. Improvements to Recommended Pages and a streamlined user registration process would ultimately encourage users to Like more Pages, populating their news feeds with interesting content that they would be much more likely to engage with.
Friend.ly could also develop a Q&A product for the user profile. This would present users with questions to answer about themselves within their own profile. By presenting questions, the time users would spend on their own profiles would show significant improvement, also populating the Timeline and news feed with highly relevant and social content, providing Facebook with greater user insight and more targetable data.
Facebook’s acquisition of friend.ly followed recent buyouts and hires of a variety of companies such as Daytum (a personal analytics firm), Sofa (a developer tool provider), Push Pop (a digital book creator) and Recrec (HTML5 experts). Facebook has said that due to the lack of development teams there had traditionally been focus on a single major product. As acquisitions have been made, the talent pool has increased substantially, allowing Facebook to develop multiple products at once. This will absolutely accelerate product development and we should see some amazing enhancements.
Friend.ly’s team will also power this acceleration. By focusing on getting the millions of users to answer and ask their friends questions, Facebook is working towards improvements in getting users to share more content while improving monetization at the same time.