The “Borg” are a race of cybernetic humanoids from the Star Trek universe. They are an unstoppable alien juggernaut that assimilates whole cultures and their technology into their “collective.” I am becoming increasingly convinced that when Mark Zuckerberg was writing his business plan, he was watching rerun episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and was inspired by the Borg’s growth strategy.
By all accounts, Facebook is an unstoppable juggernaut. In Q3 2010 Facebook served 297 billion display ad impressions. This is a 23% share of the U.S. display ad market. As a point of reference, Facebook’s ad impression market share was 9% in Q3, 2009. (Source: comScore)
Facebook has done an amazing job of assimilating the ad impression universe, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. For the advertising community Facebook presents an interesting challenge. While Facebook offers advertisers an almost creepy level of targeting, their ad platform could be so much more. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that Facebook is well aware of what their ad platform could be, but they are waiting until post IPO to roll it out for a staggeringly easy revenue win.
There are three glaring omissions in their current ad platform. First would be the ability for advertisers to serve dynamically generated ads based on user data. Today Facebook only supports static ad formats that target groups. Second, most advertisers would love to see more options for ad sizes, preferably IAB standard sizes. Third, it would elicit cheers from media planners if Facebook integrated major 3rd party ad serving platforms.
Facebook is obviously doing just fine on their path of assimilating the online ad universe and the broader culture. However, in a world where every 4th impression is served on Facebook, their current ad platform leaves many online advertisers wanting.