A reminder on how Facebook made their billions

With the easy-to-scan timeline now in place for every user, and the packaging of the terabytes of freely-provided user data to companies eager to advertise to a wired audience, Facebook is having a grand old time right now.

I think there’s one little problem, though. Once corporations realize they’re just leasing the data on Facebook and not owning the data on Facebook, things will go downhill pretty quickly.

Let me give an example…

Let’s say there’s two competitor pizza chains, Road Runner Pizza and Coyote Pizza. Both pizza chains get to pull relevant user information from Facebook if they choose to advertise with them. Each company will get user’s ages, demographics, locations, weekend activities… everything freely posted by individuals to update their friends and to help corporate America make better targeted ads. Each pizza company will get to post their customized ads in the targeted demographic’s timelines and harvest any trending information that will help their pizza business succeed.

Here’s the boulder-in-the-face moment… let’s say a little ways down the road, Coyote Pizza drops their Facebook advertising for some reason or other.

Coyote Pizza’s data, all of their research, all of their demographic targeting, all of their strategies, all of their previous advertising positions, all of their activities done through and by Facebook, are STILL the property of Facebook.

Data which Facebook can now sell to Roadrunner Pizza since Coyote Pizza is no longer in the game.

Facebook made their billions by selling data. Not by selling physical products. Not by setting up free social meeting places. DATA. That’s their plan, plain and simple. Sell the data to whoever will pay for it. Why should Facebook treat corporate data any different from an individual’s data?

This boulder-in-the-face moment may take a little time to hit companies who are eagerly jumping on the Facebook bandwagon right now with giant $970 million dollar signs in their eyes, but when it does, I expect a serious “you tricked us!” backlash against Facebook.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Facebook will respect corporate information better than they do individual information and keep a balanced campaign for competing companies despite their overlapping demographic interests. Or maybe Facebook will happily take a blank check in trade for a few year’s of a company’s targeted strategies and tactics that another advertiser is interested in.

It should be interesting either way.