On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of taking part in CTVâ€™s regular technology panel, wherein we discussed a number of topics. Two of them got me to thinking about the past, present and future of the internet, and how companies are born and developed on it.
The two topics in question were the latest Facebook privacy-advertising follies and Tadaa, a competitor app to Instagram. Respectively, they seem to represent the present and future of the internet.
Letâ€™s start with Facebook. The social network on Tuesday announced it has started testing ads in its news feed, which is an effort to take advertisements out of usersâ€™ side bars and right into their main column of updates. Putting those ads front and centre not only makes them more noticeable, it also makes it possible for Facebook to display them in its mobile app, although it doesnâ€™t appear to be doing that just yet.
As with everything the company does, thereâ€™s a backlash. Norwayâ€™s consumer ombudsman, for one, says displaying ads in usersâ€™ news feeds is tantamount to unwanted spam. While Facebook can (and probably will) retroactively change its terms of service so that such ads arenâ€™t considered unwanted, the ombudsman may have a point.
Either way, itâ€™s these types of things that are contributing to Facebook fatigue, or the phenomenon of site users who are getting tired of using the site. According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about 20 per cent of Americans had stopped using the site while more than 60 per cent admitted to taking breaks of a week or more from it.
Facebook is thus stuck between a rock and a hard place: it has to continually think of new ways to make money, yet somehow prevent more users from revolting.
That brings us to Tadaa, a photo-sharing app that bills itself as an alternative to Facebook-owned Instagram. The New York Times recently gave a nice review to the German service, which in January said it had gained 500,000 new users in the wake of Instagramâ€™s big, Facebook-ian privacy goof back in December.
The fact that Tadaa exists and is potentially gaining momentum, seems to indicate that the big land grab for internet photo sharing is not yet over. As far as anyone knows, Facebook hasnâ€™t yet figured out how to make money with Instagram. But, by paying $1 billion to acquire it last year, the company is pretty certain thereâ€™s gold in them thar photos.
Facebook is probably right, with photos likely to follow the same trajectory as the company itself. Itâ€™s a path and business model originally blazed by Google: create a service that attracts tons of users, then think of a way to monetize them after.
Google in this sense is the internetâ€™s past. It wasnâ€™t the first company to engage in a land grab - in its case, the search engine field - but it did figure out a way to do it better, and more importantly, to make money from it in a way that didnâ€™t alienate users.
Facebook, the internetâ€™s present, seems to be doing things completely the opposite of how Google did them. It too emerged as the victor of its respective land grab (social networks), yet it seems to be annoying and alienating users at every turn.
The land grab for photos is still ongoing and eventually someoneâ€™s going to figure out how to make money from them. The winner may not be the one who has the most users - which Facebook currently does, with Instagramâ€™s 100 million - but the one who figures out how to be a little more Google-y in monetizing photos, and not quite so Facebook-y.
March 28, 2013 at 2:28 am
Under your article there are many icons for those kind of services. Maybe you can tell us why you selected those?
March 28, 2013 at 10:48 am
Iâ€™ve been seeing inline ads on my iPhone and iPad for some time now. Farcebork tends to roll things out slowly to assess reaction.
Today thereâ€™s a “suggested post” from Sears. Itâ€™s a blatant ad but Farcebork hasnâ€™t got the balls to call it that. Theyâ€™re usually in the second position on the timeline and then another one further down, today itâ€™s a “suggested app” for Megapolis.
No way to say, “FOAD, Iâ€™ve seen that already!” It pollutes the timeline until they decide to throw up another one.
Iâ€™m one of those people who have given up on FB for months at a time due to their ongoing privacy issues. I wouldnâ€™t be heartbroken if they make the ads so intrusive that I give up FB entirely.