Jo | March 14, 2013
A Facebook patent application published last January tells us that a new marketing ploy is potentially going to be set in place, enabling users to get rid of distracting ads.
But, while removing ads is just something most users can be hopeful for in enhancing user experience, this specific patent filed in mid 2011, has something else to it. After finally setting off the monetisation aspect of the social media site, something that other sites have struggled with, the social media giant is reportedly taking the step to give “flexibility” to users by allowing them to take off advertisements off the users’ Facebook account; the only catch is that they’ll need to pay to do so.
Though not named as Facebook, the patent application could not be mistaken for any other social networking platform due to the names filed and accompanying concept drawings. Dubbed as the “Paid Profile Personalization” functionality, the inventors Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Ads Product Director Gokul Rajaram, and former Product Management Director Prashant Fuloria, state in the description that users “may select one or more social networking objects to replace advertisements or other elements that are normally displayed to visitors of the user’s profile page that are otherwise controlled by the social networking system.
In particular embodiments, the user may edit elements on their profile page that are otherwise automatically generated and controlled in design and content by the social networking system.” It would appear that the site is ready to let go of the tightly-controlled look on profile pages, and will allow replacement of ads on the right with pictures, or other “favorite memories.” Alternatively, users can have the option to replace information in their “about” page with a personalised status message. While these all sounds good, the catch is that, users will be “billed on a recurring basis for profile personalization,” the patent states. Needless to say, this path takes its millions of user base worldwide to yet another monetisation strategy of Facebook, and one that is planned so well, we think, that users will find it hard to say no.
The patent does not deny Facebook’s monetary agenda with this new roadmap, as they believe that “permitting such functionality improves the overall user experience while maximising revenue to the social networking system.”. But the reality is, are we now in a social networking age where users pay to not be annoyed by ads? Tracking back to the days of Facebook in 2004, and it brought along users a refreshed feeling of online interaction. Then the days of ads-enablement came along, another stage the pool of global users got used to. This new addition became a more pressing issue, as Wall Street started to put a pressure on Facebook to increase monetization streams.
A growing number of social personalities and celebrities have noticed that the change in algorithms in Facebook makes post less visible, and have aired their discontent about Facebook’s strategies. New York Times writer Nick Bilton recently vented his thoughts on the issue, through the publication’s Bit section. He mentions that of late, he has started to getting less interactions that typical, at only around 10-15 likes and comments. For a Facebook user with more than 25,000 subscribers, this is fairly unusual. Bilton even adds that by purchasing a “promoted post,” the interactions skyrocketed to 1,000 percent.
If this is really where Facebook is going the question that springs to mind is that are these really worth every user’s money, or is it better to walk away and just stop posting? But can we walk away from Facebook, and what would it take for us to do so?
Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net