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How Facebook could clean up the offers industry

If Facebook doesn’t clean up the offers industry, then this guy will

As a quick follow-on of my last post on How social gaming offers create value for everyone, it strikes me that what the industry needs to survive for the long-term is for one of the big players to break out of the stalemate of zero information sharing, and start advocating for sustainability.

Why all the advertising and leadgen companies hide their information
One of the big problems for the advertising and leadgen industries is the massive lack of information sharing between different parties. The reason is that ultimately, there are really just two parties involved:

  • The paying customer
  • The company providing the end product or service

But then lots and lots of middlemen get involved, including:

  • Agencies / SEMs
  • Ad networks
  • Publishers
  • Infrastructure providers
  • Data providers
  • etc.

Everyone in that extended chain are just middlemen, and their job is that for every $1 of profit, they want to outmaneuver everyone else in the stack to get as much of that dollar as possible. So if an ad campaign is doing really well, the agency doesn’t want to tell the ad network, for fear that the ad network will raise their rates. On the other hand, the ad network can’t figure out which of the publishers in their ad network actually deliver good performance.

This all sucks, and requires a central party to think long-term. That player might ultimately just be Facebook, but could be a publisher like Zynga (though I doubt it).

What information could be worth exposing
In general, I believe the key to thinking long-term on the offers industry would be to expose all sorts of feedback information, out in the open, at a granular level.

Users would also be able to get information like:

  • What are they actually signing up for?
  • A standardized view of every offer, like a checklist, similar to FDA mandated food packaging guidelines:
    • What is the 12-month cost of this offer?
    • What is the $ value of this offer to the advertiser?
    • Is this a subscription, yes or no?
    • Am I going to get emails?
    • Am I going to get a phone call?
    • Is my information getting shared with any other parties?
    • How can I cancel? (and this should be standardized too)
    • How do other users feel about this offer?
    • What is the cancelation rate?
    • How do I get customer support if I opt in to this offer
  • Every offer should link to an “advertiser profile” on Facebook, with comments, ratings, etc.
  • Facebook should be able to instantly ban specific advertisers and offers from ever coming up across all of Facebook

For advertisers and everyone else, they would get to see information like:

  • Where are my offers showing up? (by app)
  • What kinds of users are filling out my leads? (demographics, geo, etc.)
  • What is the $ incentive for users? (by app, by $ amount)

Similarly, there is soft information like:

  • How are users rating the app?
  • How do they feel about the particular offer?
  • How often engaged are users? How much churn is in the app?
  • How often do they repurchase virtual currency?

For all of the above, I think a lot of companies would hate it in the short run, and a lot of dollars might be banned, but long-term, this would be better for the overall ecosystem.

Let’s hope that something like this happens!

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