Is Facebook Helping Advertisers or Stealing From Them?

Last Updated Apr 21, 2011 1:32 PM EDT

In an attempt to blunt criticism that it isn't friendly to advertisers, Facebook has set up a "Facebook Studio" community site where ad agencies can post examples of their Facebook campaigns and swap ideas. It sounds great -- it's not obvious how to turn Facebook's massive audience into sales (Pepsi failed on just that mission) -- and Facebook Studio is a place to see examples of campaigns that worked really well. (This image is from Altoids' Facebook campaign, for example.)

But there's a conflict of interest here: Facebook has an ad sales team too, so this is also a way for Facebook to get Madison Avenue to give it its best ideas for free.

Facebook's ad sales team is currently not well-liked in the advertising business. Check out the comments section under this Ad Age story. Some examples:
It's great that Facebook is taking steps to better work with agencies, but workshops aren't going to fix the core issue - lack of communication. ... I know what a nightmare it can be to wake up one day and all of the sudden have your entire page be out of legal compliance.

In the early days, we could forgive facebook for being small, and unprepared for growth. However now that it is 2011, there is no excuse for the poor communication, and reliance on the outside sales force, many of whom are not well trained, and offer conflicting versions of company policy -- or the often heard "I'll get back to you on that" which means "abandon all hope of ever getting an answer"
Facebook has a malicious arrogance that Google took 10 years to acquire. Whenever we do a FB app or page for a client now we include the caveat that any bs on facebook's part shall not be held against our firm.
Where does the data go?
Facebook Studio asks ad agencies to submit videos of their campaigns along with "a case study or non-confidential campaign metrics." Facebook's team then reviews the submission before posting it.

Facebook is already reputedly tight-fisted with its metrics, and the Studio submissions will allow Facebook to compare submitted data with its own data on those campaigns, and build the best database of Facebook advertising metrics on the planet. I'm going to guess that Facebook will not be sharing that data with the agencies who submitted it. As Razorfish word of mouth director Cristina Lawrence said:
We still need to be mindful of our intellectual capital ... How is [Facebook] going to leverage this collective agency thinking?
A spokesperson for Facebook told BNET metrics were not mandatory for studio submissions:
We don't require metrics for submissions, and the site has never and will never be about comparing metrics. Campaign performance is an open-text field and not a required field, so anything posted to the site is public and is completely up to the submitter's discretion.

How we will be leveraging this collective agency thinking via Facebook Studio is by empowering agencies to convey upon their client innovative and savvy social marketing practices. This, in turn, creates an environment where people can connect with brands in a more personalized and engaging way, which we think is better for everyone.
It's not a one-way street, of course. The site has only been up a few days but already it looks like it is turning into yet another directory of agencies that are available for work on Facebook campaigns.

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