The details of Facebook's "SocialAds" initiative, set to debut on Tuesday, have leaked through enough channels so that we have a pretty good idea of what we'll be hearing. SocialAds will not only serve up uber-targeted ads based on your Facebook profile information, there will allegedly be some sponsored vertical categories involved, as well as e-commerce tie-ins that will tell your friends what you've been buying, preferably with an opt-out clause.
Facebook rival MySpace, meanwhile, has recently introduced "HyperTargeting," a similar advertising strategy.
The debut event itself, intended to be shrouded in mystery, hasn't exactly stayed that way. The previously undisclosed location was unceremoniously leaked by a few bloggers, so it's now beyond common knowledge that Facebook will be taking over the Loft Eleven event space on West 37th Street for pretty much the entire afternoon.
What's on the agenda? It's not quite clear yet, but the day will feature a keynote by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as well as some "panels" and a press Q&A. It's also a big question mark as to who will actually be there, since a formal list of partners has not been released--though an unconfirmed list was leaked several weeks ago.
Hovering over the head of it all will undoubtedly be OpenSocial, the social network developer platform code that Google released last week to much fanfare. OpenSocial's debut certainly took some of the spotlight off Facebook, but at the same time, there's no clear path for exactly how it will be a "Facebook killer."
The thing about OpenSocial is that it's provided a set of tools that are potentially very powerful--I mean, hello, it's Google--but the catch is that a whole lot is left up to the "partners" themselves. OpenSocial's uber-openness can make Facebook look closed-off and inaccessible, but at the same time, if people are going to ditch their Facebook profiles, somebody else is going to have to step up to the plate in turn.
I've been playing with the Google-owned Orkut, which many are saying is Facebook's heir apparent. It's impressive, and has a very neat and clean interface, but it asks me for way too much information. Does anyone else find it creepy that a social-networking site asks me what my turn-ons are (Thunderstorms? Skinny-dipping?) and whether I find myself attractive? Not only am I not sure I want to divulge that sort of information about myself, I most certainly don't want to know it about my friends.
So, as far as I'm concerned, Facebook is still on top of the social-networking game. Bt SocialAds had better be good--and not too intrusive. I'm having enough trouble with a news feed full of zombies.