facebook aesthetic penetration: thoughts at aimClear

Had a nice exchange with Aimclear, mostly around the new Facebook personal profile design and for me the power of its aesthetic joining of photographic ads to the rest of its photographic content. Merry Merud’s excellent and detailed post on how deeply Facebook is penetrating into user interests (and how they can serve advertisers) really got me thinking about how elegant and bold the Facebook profile move was. For the chain of thoughts:

I first commented:

The one thing I would want to add is something to the idea that the aesthetic changes may not be relevant marketers:

“While aesthetic changes in Facebook profiles may not seem relevant to marketers, the new profile elements will effect how some users self-identify and express their predilections… and thus, effecting targeting metrics.”

The aesthetic changes indeed by my eye are entirely marketer directed, in that the provide a visual bridge from the operative left column, to the right side advertisement column.

When they came out I did a very quick mock up of how these changes created a visual chain of images, joining the left to the right side through the filmstrip up top. Its actually a masterstroke of design that marketers should be interested in. I would expect a higher conversion rate for Facebook ads, and would love to see an eye-tracking study of how the changes are viewed.

To which MM replied,

@mediasres thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree, the new profile layout does draw the eye a bit more and will hopefully lead to more clicks and eventually conversions. Thank you for pointing it out as it *IS* relevant to marketers.

The post was meant for marketers who use Facebook Ads to consider the possibilities of new targeting inventory through Facebook’s new prompted “interested, etc” fields and not on the aesthetic of the new profiles.

This WebTrends post does the impact of Facebook’s profile change more justice: Facebook Ads 66% More Ad Space & What It Means for Marketers

Which lead to my thought,

I should have qualified my comment as only parenthetical and hopefully complimentary to what you were saying. In a sense the conversion increase that may come out of Facebook ads, first is grounded itself in exactly the targeting capabilities you so beautifully illustrate, only then coupled with the CTRs of a new design. But I see the two intertwined, as a single move by Facebook – deeper penetration into the user, both informationally and aesthetically. For some reason when I first saw the new design I was inordinately shocked by how ad friendly it was, as if it may even have been the overriding reason for the change – how the ad column suddenly was aesthetically, graphically fused to the content of the page. Much as how Google aesthetically blurs the lines between its text AdWords ads, and the (largely) text organic results (and now the more enhanced text options on the left side), Facebook seems to do the same thing with the photographic emphasis in content. By such reasoning I wonder if it really is a photo ad medium more than a text ad medium, made for expressly that. This is one future where Facebook may have Google beat, Facebook has become about faces.

What is your feeling if you don’t mind me asking? Do you expect Facebook to ever overtake Google in terms of advertising effectiveness or dollars? Something of what you are saying is that Facebook is quickly building an architecture of interests meant to rival the intents expressed lexically in a search (and a search history). It strikes me that they have a hurdle of trust to overcome there, the barrier between the private and the public that is much more easily bridged by searches for information, rather than passive advertising.