Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ad.ly Promises to Get More Celebrities, Pitching More Stuff, In Your Facebook Feed

Facebook has a big ad business. But its display ads tend to get ignored by the overwhelming majority of its users.

Ad.ly says it can fix this, with a time-tested method: Celebrity endorsements.

The social media ad start-up has already been doing this for some time, via its core product, which pays social network “influencers” to give products and brands a thumbs-up. That message appears in the celebrities’ news stream, where their followers are supposed to pay more attention than they would if they saw a conventional ad.

Now Ad.ly is rolling out a second ad unit, specifically for Facebook–a display ad featuring the celebrity’s endorsement. The start-up is packaging the two ads together to advertisers as the “Facebook Bundle” and promises that it can deliver eyeballs for less than $5 per 1,000 views.

It’s a pretty simple concept, as you can see from the materials the company has been sending to advertisers. Here’s the original “in-stream” Ad.ly ad unit (click to enlarge):

And here’s the new display unit that’s supposed to run in conjunction with the in-stream ad:

Don’t know if they’ll work, but they can’t be worse than many of the display ads Facebook sends my way right now. It routinely thinks, for instance, that I may be interested in joining the CIA, after I spend 18 to 24 months getting my Criminal Justice Degree. The social network is also insistent about getting me to whiten my teeth.

There’s always a risk that Facebook finds the new ads problematic for some reason (see: Twitter), but Ad.ly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh says he reached out to Facebook last week and they sounded enthusiastic. I’m waiting for Facebook PR to confirm that with me, but for now we’ll take Gullov-Singh at his word.

I do have one worry, though. I keep looking at this Sgt. Peppers collage that Ad.ly put out to show off the “influencers” it has on its roster, and I don’t think I can recognize more than half of them. But that may have more to do with my impending old age than anything else. Right?


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus