Originally published June 19, 2007
Part 3: Facebook's Mike Murphy Offers Advice to Marketers on the Facebook Economy
Over the last two weeks we have reviewed Facebook's F8 platform and how it changes the ecosystem not only of social networks but of the Web itself. In an exclusive interview, Mike Murphy, Facebook vice president of media sales, offered advice on how advertisers can best leverage Facebook's new F8 platform.
First, the backstory: The genesis for F8 was the success of Facebook's first two applications. Recalls Murphy, "First we did a photo app that soon became bigger than Flickr. Then we created one for events, and it overtook Evite. We knew we were onto something." Noting that a widget could take off like a rocket was crucial, but it was the decision to open up Facebook to developers that was paramount. Giving up control has been everybody's Web 2.0 mantra, but in one fell swoop Facebook made it a core business principle.
In the three weeks since F8's launch, the platform has posted some impressive stats that demand a second look, even for the hype-averse. At last week's Facebook Developers Meetup in NYC, Dave Morin, Facebook's director of platform, reported the following benchmarks:
The host of this event, Amit Gupta, spoke of imminent "app fatigue," but before that time arrives, Murphy suggested opportunities for Jack Myers Media Business Report readers. Murphy, formerly Yahoo!'s VP of Media Sales Western Region, confirmed that Facebook expects to hit 50 million members end-year and 100 million by mid-2008. He pointed out that since opening up registration beyond college students last fall, Facebook's fastest growing demo has been adults 25 to 54 and the reach is global.
Part One of this three-part series observed that "fan-based" widgets [such as the Last.fm app created by a user] might come to loggerheads with "official apps" created by brands (such as the official CBS-owned Last.fm site). Will Facebook take a stand in support of a paid advertiser or preserve its open and level-playing field? Murphy offered that "with any affiliate model it's up to the official brand to build the best. That marketer should win the race. After all, they own the assets! For those who are looking to stand out, my team builds promo platforms for them to create distribution." Apps that have been popular right out of the gate - that is before they are even entered in the directory - have availed themselves of the viral tools that Facebook offers, including invites and Newsfeed postings.
Murphy underlines Facebook's most significant advantage for marketers: Unlike MySpace, which is a proof of the strength of weak ties, "our users are really who they say they are. And we can help you target them with a message." Despite the launch of F8, privacy controls continue to restrict uninvited access.
Nuts & Bolts
With the staggering influx of applications what can aspiring developers do to streamline the development process?
With literally thousands of apps in queue, will Facebook's in-house developers make arbitrary value judgments? Murphy claims "we do not have nor will we ever have an editorial voice." Facebook engineers are reviewing apps purely for functionality, but interested developers can turn for unofficial reviews to the new www.Facereviews.com, headed by Rodney Rumford, which launched last week.