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Leo Burnett Company, Limited, 175 Bloor Street East, North Tower, Ontario M4W 3R9

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margaret.arnold@leoburnett.ca

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What's All the Facebook Fuss?

Changes announced last week see another huge shift in the way brands will advertise online.

Changes announced last week see another huge shift in the way brands will advertise online. Before we delve into the nitty gritty, lets first put a bit of context around things. Online advertising spend increased to106$ billion worldwide in 2011, and is set to rise again in 2012. This is surprising when you consider brands are finally realising how woefully ineffective and wasteful most banner advertising is. 5% of this whole huge piece is currently bought on Facebook. Put simply, ad land has persuaded brands to part with their money in a space where targeting and being timely are more important than a massive 26 sheet alongside the A4. It isn't just about the straight use of 'ads' either of course. More and more brands now increase advocacy through carefully orchestrated digital fan clubs, incubated on platforms such as Facebook. The more they can swell these core followings and provide them with stuff to talk about, the greater amounts of noise generated. But things took a turn last week in the latest move from Facebook that will cause real ripples throughout the industry; There are big implications and it seems story telling agencies who can prove their ability to create truly engaging content experiences will be the runaway winners. Next up are those who understand the space to such a degree that they can confidently micromanage communities at a moments notice, shifting and bending communications in an instance. Finally those places who can demonstrate analysis with a fine tooth comb and act upon their results in minutes not months will put themselves at the front of the pack. Traditional media agencies are at risk and will need to adapt swiftly if they don’t want to be marginalised. These clumsy behemoths have built huge global commercial structures based on fee arrangements set out in the eighties. Their models take into account all media buying but this leaves them susceptible to the super high definition approach needed now. They will have to suddenly invest in skills and resource to man the minutia within the media which Facebook are demanding. At first glance, these glossy new play areas, and lessening of dirty promotional mechanics look ripe for creative agencies to succeed. Being playful with the timeline, portraying a brand's history and leveraging the huge new spaces where the applications can now sit all look to provide an excellent canvas for creativity a million miles from the old confines of a 468×60 banner. Yet it is not just visuals which mean opportunity for creative agencies. It is likely that the more astute advertising agencies who are already abreast of digital and social through acquisitions or new hires, will also enjoy this playground because it plays to their core strength : Story telling. Facebook are shifting everything so that brands become people and people have stories to tell. Histories will have higher hierarchical importance within communications, and content experiences are again king. Timelines will not be seen so much as the final destination though, as much as the crossroads and distribution centre. It will be the place a brand lives but where sharing and multiple touchpoints converge, come together, then head off into different online directions all over again. The final big trick is about an always on, constant conversation. Brands talk a good game about being constantly in touch with their consumer and about creating continued dialogue with their fans. However even the most regular conversationists will seem quiet compared to what is about to occur. Direct messaging between pages and people is to be opened up so you can message say Nike or Coca Cola just as you do one your closest friends.

Over and over again if you desire..

In real time..

Brands which turn this off might appear distant, so a chasm will erupt between those who do and those who don't. The best and most advanced will take full advantage, and consumer relationship management will take a dramatic exciting new turn. A distant vision might be entire suites of community managers working on a brands behalf, speaking continually to their fans and being proactive on the back of each and every one of those conversations.

If you're not excited, you should be. if you're not scared, you should be. (a bit). If you understand social media, have prowess in brand etiquette across social platforms, and have creative experiences at the core of your business, then you might just be about to head even higher.