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Why Facebook + comment ratings = a big F-ing deal.

Facebook has been quietly but consistently creating tools that enable the service to know normally difficult to capture metrics about what people are doing, who they know, what they know and now with comment ratings, how well their knowledge is valued by their peers. Prior to this upgrade Facebook was able to provide excellent data for their ad targeting algorithms to enable highly coupled ad placements to the desires of those users shown them. The use of user submitted information regarding their geographic location, their likes in movies, music and other interests enabled Facebook to target large swathes of users to show relevant ads that target to those particular topics...this in itself was a pretty big deal as no one before Facebook had as large an audience to mine for this data and ad targeting and no one had as many points of information from the users base. Google has a much larger user base arguably but their ability to infer the interests from those users is much less focused as they have to use search data gathered by user submitted opt in to determine if an ad would be likely to be clicked by a particular person. By having direct access to an individuals expressed interests and more importantly being able to query a users comments and postings for key words enabled them to create highly targeted ads.

Enter the comment ratings, this expands the landscape of discoverable data points about users by now allowing Facebook to let the user community vote on the merits of other users comments, this is important as it allows Facebook to isolate those people that are deemed by their peers to exhibit key influence, these highly influential people are the people who's recommendations are likely to spawn a wave of similar activity in their friends and friends of friends, the comment system shines a light on this activity that has been going on and remained invisible to the previous social data points that Facebook was mining. The combination of comment ratings and the ad targeting system now allows Facebook to simulate something much like what is possible on Twitter. Many major and minor Celebrities , Sports stars and Politicians are making a little change selling sponsored tweets..these celebrities usually sign up with a service that manages the bidding of the ad tweets made available by the celebrity and then they sit back and rake in cash as businesses bid to buy those tweets from the various celebrities. Imagine an air conditioning retailer that sells GE exclusively getting the ability to by sponsored tweets by retired head of GE Jack Welch and you get the idea.

Facebook comments invert this by taking the actual influencial person out of the monetary loop, the influential person does not get paid a dime for their "services" rendered to Facebook other than continuation of the "free" service. However, I gather the gains coming Facebook's way from differentially pricing advertisements to particularly influential people will be beyond anything that we are seeing today as earned by Google using their Ad Sense or by the Twitter services like Magpie and the Celebrity sponsored tweet services. An ad buyer will be able to bid on influential people anonymously it would be in Facebooks best interest to keep this part of their mined data private as if those with influence discovered just how influential they were they might try to extract a cut of the profits from Facebook or forfeit the service. The latter option becoming increasing unlikely as users build up influence and a network that they would be loath to leave, so Facebook has them by the hook. They get to measure the influence by noticing how people comment rate their posts and writings but they earn no share of the resulting visibility for the ad targeting system....this is the holy grail of ad targeting now being born.

Facebook will probably gather metrics on the comment ratings for a time before actively feeding that data into the ad targeting system to refine the results and we can expect a revamp of the ad tools to include some option to purchase ad space on influential persons pages (without naming who they are)...this is when Facebook's ad revenue goes from the current Mach speed to Light speed.


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