The future of Facebook ads

With Facebook’s first client council meeting hastily approaching (October 3rd) there has been a rumble in the marketing world over whether Facebook can effectively carry adverts.  With Facebook’s ad revenues estimated to rise by 104% this year, to $3.4billion it is more important than ever for Facebook to have the backing of marketers.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief of WPP, spoke last week at the Royal Television Society in Cambridge and expressed his doubts in using social networks for commercial advertising, stating that they were “not the right context” –  if you interrupt personal life with commercial messages  “you may run into trouble… it is dangerous territory”.

But not everyone seems to agree with his sentiment. In fact, this week saw  the multi-million-pound advertising deal between Facebook and Diageo. Whilst the shift in Bacardi’s digital spend to mainly Facebook initiatives (90%) highlights further this growing trend towards social media-centric marketing strategies.

Gokul Rajaram, Facebook’s Ads Product Director, explains that “Facebook Ads are essentially based on the premise that people want to discover what their friends are doing”. Rajaram goes on to reveal that, when compared to standard display methods, social ads are 68% more likely to be remembered and increase the chance of a consumer purchasing that product by 400%.

 The prospect of using only adverts which are socially communicated across Facebook, so that only those ‘liked’ or shared by our friends are displayed, provides a much more personal link to campaigns. It is clear that Facebook has a wealth of data on all of us – and if used effectively this will be the ultimate resource for any online campaign. This level of personalisation can only help increase brand and campaign awareness and ultimately sales.

Due to its sheer number of users (750 million), I believe Facebook advertising will continue to attract the attention of marketers. However, my concerns is how imposing these ads could become on the users’ experience.

For now, Facebook remains a social media giant, used daily by millions worldwide. But how effective these adverts will be is still uncertain – we’ll have to wait and see what the industry experts at the council meeting come up with…

Danielle Barrett


Copycat packaging – is it really a good idea to start a war with all-powerful supermarkets?

It has been announced this week that Diageo is to sue Sainsbury’s over the supermarkets copycat version of Pimm’s, which was launched in April, arguing it as an infringement of its intellectual property.  Having looked at the bottles, it is quite clear that Diageo have a reason to kick up a bit of a fuss:

The similarities are impossible to ignore – from the sans serif font to the colours and shape to the serving recommendation.  Sainsbury’s even cheekily add that the drink has been launched ‘just in time for all the top summer events; Ascot, Henley and of course, Wimbledon’.  Events all previously associated with Pimm’s, and the infamous slogan ‘it’s Pimm’s o’clock’. 

This isn’t the first time that Sainsbury’s has been in the press over copycat packaging.  The supermarket is also said to have cashed in with an own-label shampoo in similar packaging to Head & Shoulders.

So you can understand Diageo’s frustration.  However, whilst taking the dispute to court is a brave move, is it a wise one?  Not only is Sainsbury’s one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, but it is also one of Diageo’s biggest customers.    

In recent years the power that supermarket’s hold over brands has grown, illustrated in the demand for more competitive prices and aggressive discounting.  With that in mind it is refreshing to see a brand finally stand up for their product and its value, but whether this will come off well for Diageo remains to be seen. Currently there is no legislation that stops any retailer from copying leading brands packaging in order to raise the profile of their own-label product.  According to research, one in three consumers have bought own-label products with copycat packaging, with 65% agreeing that it is often confusing to distinguish between own label and branded products.

And unfortunately, according to British Brands Group Director John Noble, going to court is not always the best choice: “It’s a very ineffective line of action.  Not only is it very expensive, but ineffective as well because it is very difficult to prove consumer confusion in court.”  

Could Diageo be wasting its time completely?