Given Facebook is such a social media success, one of the challenges the company faces is how to generate revenue.

As reported in AdAge, Facebook have started to test the targetting of ads in real time with 1% of users worldwide: that’s a focus group of 6 million people which should be more than robust!

Facebook have been targetting ads based on status updates and wall posts for some time but not in real time. So someone saying “Another rainy day. I need a holiday.” might get to see an ad or a voucher from a holiday company. The test is about speeding up the ad selection to real time to maximise relevance rather than delivering a good match days or weeks later after you bought the holiday from someone else.

Success will depend on how good the algorithims are at detecting keywords and the sentiment of the sentence. e.g. will a post saying, “Painted my walls coffee colour” generate an ad for Nescafe Gold Blend or a 10% off voucher at Homebase?

The initiative will be welcomed by advertisers as in my experience, the Facebook click through rate is very low compared to Google Ads: webtrends say it was around 0.05% in 2010.

What will Facebook’s users think?

Some Facebook users may be delighted if Facebook provides ads that are more relevant to them. Others may see the development as intrusive / big brotherish?

What do you think?