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Facebook, the Open Graph and Game Dynamics – Controlling Your Online Future

To really appreciate the role of game dynamics in allowing marketers to better uncover and exploit consumer trends both now and particularly in the future, we need to take a closer look at the most influential of all websites, the one that is using game dynamics to the fullest extent – Facebook.

Although any marketer can utilize game dynamics to some extent, no company is better poised to take the fullest advantage of the data that is being gleaned from the use of game dynamics every second of every day. Facebook’s entire business model revolves around the data that is collected through consumers never ending desire to take part in various implementations of these game dynamics – particularly with “friending” and social commenting. These two game dynamics in particular are what makes this data so valuable to marketers.

Building Identity Into The Internet

Before covering the technical aspects of integrating Facebook’s Open Graph and how it will be, and is being utilized to exploit consumer trends, it’s important to keep in mind the stated goal of Facebook – building identity into the Internet. This cannot be overstated – the most groundbreaking thing Facebook accomplished was to convince the world to identify themselves online. Before Facebook, you could be whoever, or whatever you wanted to be online. Although this anonymity was instrumental in the growth of the Internet, it is the erosion of that anonymity that will open up marketing options that have never been seen before.

Facebook – Open Graph Technology

Facebook accomplished this simply by providing a platform for people to accumulate “friends”, share photos, become fans of pages, businesses, celebrities, TV shows, sports teams, movies, politicians etc. all of which has added what has been called the “identity layer” over the existing web. However, what separates Facebook from various other social networks is it’s Open Graph technology. The Open Graph is a set of protocols developed by Facebook that enables other sites to integrate with Facebook.

This is useful for 3rd party sites because it essentially takes over the log-in system allowing visitors to be automatically logged in to a site even if they have never visited that site before. Getting new visitors to register for a site has always been one of the more difficult things for site owners to do because people don’t like to remember a plethora of log-in credentials for all of the various sites they frequent. This can be a big convenience for site owners and visitors alike. Once logged in, users tend to become more engaged with a site by commenting, sharing links, and using the integrated “Like” button to share pages with others. This is good for site owners because it increases traffic and exposure. As an added incentive to get site owners to integrate the Open Graph protocol into their websites, Facebook is giving priority to external sites that are integrated when users do a search on Facebook. With hundreds of millions of searches each day, this is almost the equivalent of having one’s website indexed by another Google, so the desire to tap into this new search base should prove huge and will no doubt speed integration across the web. There are already over 250,000 sites integrated into the Open Graph and the number is growing daily.

Facebook Using Game Dynamics to Manipulate You

The Open Graph appears to be good for the visitor as well, because it takes advantage of game dynamics to cater to a visitors sense of importance, and desire to participate in a community, in addition to the more practical convenience of having a universal log-in. Most importantly, it’s good for Facebook because they are able to collect enormous amounts of data on their 500 million users likes and dislikes, as well as the level of connection and influence that each user has on another user. With this data, Facebook can construct extremely detailed profiles on each and every user, allowing a level of marketing depth that dwarfs demographics and other standard targeting.

All of this data will enable Facebook to provide a far more effective search mechanism for the web by taking into account your likes and dislikes, friends recommendations and their likes and dislikes, users past browsing habits, etc. Since users will conceivably always be logged into Facebook even when they are not actually on Facebook (due to the Open Graph being integrated across the web), they will be able to collect data on users that can be used to show far more relevant ads – even to users that aren’t on Facebook.

How You Will Help Facebook Control The World

Facebook is already the undisputed king of display advertising. According to the most recent comScore rankings, Facebook controls 23% of all display ad impressions online, which is more than twice as many as Yahoo, and ten times as many as Google. Although Google still controls the majority of the PPC ad inventory, Facebook has their own PPC platform in place and is in a prime position to use their data to provide advertisers a very compelling reason to reconsider their ad spend.

With the Open Graph integration, site owners will soon be given the opportunity to allow Facebook to handle all of their advertising placements (display and PPC), much the way Google and Yahoo have for the last decade. With the superior targeting that will be available thanks to the data gleaned from the Open Graph, site owners will undoubtedly see improved click through rates due to increased customer interest, and higher payments per click due to advertisers willingness to pay more per click for targeted traffic – all of which puts more money into the site owners pockets. Advertisers will no longer have to guess at your race, sex, education level, interests etc., because you’ve already provided that info in your Facebook profile. Targeting directly to a consumers interests will become, like the proverbial “shooting fish in a barrel”.

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