Facebook’s Beacon Ad Platform wasn’t a monumental hit – right away.
But, like in the past, media critics and snappy Facebook users were quick to jump on Zuckerberg like starving wolves after a controversial new innovation to his website.
Why did this happen?
Are critics in a frenzy due to a lack of worthy tech news stories that pop? Are some angry that they weren’t the brainchild of the ultimate billion-dollar social network?
Are students bitter because their little club is expanding? Are they turning into their grandparents by ignoring what is on the horizon, reaching back to the glory days? “When Facebook was simple all it had were my interests and a headshot. I miss those days when it didn’t have all the shiny doo-dad applications and we walked 15 miles to campus uphill in the snow.” Who knows?
Maybe the Beacon really was a flop.
What ever the reason for the hate, if we look at Zuckerberg’s track record we see that he shouldn’t be frightened by the recent backlash regarding his “Beacon Ad Platform.” Immediate backlash has happened with every new Facebook innovation since its inception.
Just take a look…
Facebook opening to the public
Early opinion: Hundreds of Anti-Facebook groups like “Now your mom can see you on Facebook” protested Facebook’s opening to the public from the get go. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote about “The revolt you didn’t hear about.”
Long term: Against the odds Facebook tripled its user base and allowed for new local networks to form. In addition, it gave students the ability to connect with friends who had graduated before 2005 and build valuable business contacts.
Early opinion: Hundreds of Anti-Facebook groups like: “restore Facebook before it got Stalker-ish” hating on the innovation. News sources continued the lashing with articles like “Facebook has gone too far and members are in an uproar!”
Long term: The “Wall” proved to be a simplified way to keep in touch with friends and view activity on the site. A few hundred members left out of protest, but some were quick to re-subscribe. Since then millions of new users have came and the “Wall” has led to many new innovations within the system.
Early opinion: As expected, thousands of anti-application and anti-Zuckerberg Facebook groups were angry, saying “Facebook is turning into MySpace.” Critics claimed that Zuckerberg had polluted Facebook and its demise was eminent.
Long Term: Facebook has experienced its greatest jump in registration since the launch of applications. Classes are being taught at Stanford and other schools teaching students how to build applications. Applications have given us a completely new way to organize our life, keep in touch with friends, keep track of travel habits, find new music and kill time.
Beacon Ad Platform
Early opinion: Hundreds of anti-beacon and anti-Zuckerberg Facebook groups formed. Less than .01% of the Facebook community signing a petition by MoveOn.org. Severe backlash from critics, with stories like “RIP Facebook” and an apology to those offended from Zuckerberg, saying “we simply did a bad job of launching Beacon.”
The long term result of Beacon could be more interesting.
If the past is any indicator, Facebook users and the media are quick to jump on Zuckerberg without warning. He has a strong track record of proving his critics wrong in the long term, but nothing is certain in the ever-expanding (and sometimes shrinking) world of tech. Maybe when the dust settles in a month, and Facebook has grown by another 5 million users “Beacon 2.0” will have the kinks worked out and a better launch strategy will revolutionize web marketing and advertising.
From a smart guy like Zuckerberg – if you pricked his finger with a needle he would bleed tech innovation – I wouldn’t put those long-term results out of the picture.