Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka 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. 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 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 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 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 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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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik