Facebook’s Open Graph could be an SEM Game Changer

If you haven’t heard about the Open Graph announcement yesterday, it’s a huge game changer in the online marketing/advertising/privacy space. Facebook (and Microsoft) now have the ability to track people as they visit all sorts of 3rd party sites through the web and tie it back to your demographic details/contact details within Facebook and other websites.

What does Facebook’s Open Graph mean for businesses who use Pay-Per-Click advertising?

Here’s my understanding of Open Graph’s potential:

If you’re logged into Facebook on a computer, and you visit *any* website that has the new “LIKE” button installed, Facebook (and ultimately Microsoft, AdCenter & Co.) will know exactly which website you’re on, what you did there, etc.   The Facebook “LIKE” button is actually a bit of code the webmaster put on each page and when visited, it queries Facebook’s servers. That query is the gateway for tracking and you better believe they are mining that data.

open-graph

What would happen if your demographic info from Facebook and your browsing history, from every site you’ve visited that had a Facebook “LIKE” button on it, were tied conveniently into an SEM/PPC advertising platform?

Online marketers would have the ability to serve you ads on the site you are visiting which are tailored to your personal activity history, gender, age, browsing prferences, likes and dislikes etc.  Who better to become the advertising platform for that new extensive network but Microsoft’s AdCenter?  They are a shareholder in Facebook after all.

Imagine for a moment as a marketer, being able to selectively show your advertisements on a particular website based on the demographics of the individual who was visiting. Being able to know that that visitor had a vacation to ____ scheduled because they mentioned it in their Facebook profile, or that he/she liked a specific restaurant because they gave it a positive review in Yelp, or perhaps you could see that they had stocks in ___ because their activity history showed they frequented that stock’s page on the NYSE’s website.

This is a new dimension of targeted advertising that we haven’t been able to achieve outside of small pockets of membership-based websites.

Facebook’s Open Graph is a marketers dream, and privacy issues aside, could change the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) field forever. If my understanding is correct, this could be the golden ticket for Microsoft AdCenter’s SEM network which has struggled to keep up with Google and Yahoo since it’s inception.

Update:

I came across an article stating that Microsoft’s AdCenter contract had expired with Facebook and that, apparently, Facebook has not renewed their advertising partnership. Interesting…perhaps there will be a new SEM network on the horizon?

What do you think?

Is Facebook Open Graph evil or ingenius? As a business owner, do it’s pros outweigh it’s cons?

Additional Reading:

Update: December 15, 2010

Bing has announced that Facebook “Likes” influence rankings in Bing.com searches.

– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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Colin Greig

Insight written by Colin Greig

Director, Marketing at Rand Group

14 years experience in online marketing with expert emphasis on B2B lead generation and marketing automation. He has been the backbone of many of his own successful online businesses and has worked with some of the best online marketing gurus in the business.

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