With the advent of Nearby Friends, there are many who wonder if perhaps Facebook is going a little too far as far as the advertising business goes. The thing of it is, this may seem like a bait and switch of sorts by the social media juggernaut.
Right now, Nearby Friends is being touted by Facebook as a way to engineer offline get-togethers by those who use the app. Only those who have the feature will be able to turn it off and on and see whether or not their friends who have the app are nearby to their location. By the same token, those who have the feature will be able to see their friends who are nearby – provided those friends also have the Nearby Friends feature. While it remains to be seen how effective Nearby Friends will be in promoting offline get togethers, it is clear that Facebook has something else in mind when it engineered the feature – connecting advertisers with their clientele in a way that no one could have possibly conceived of previously.
While representatives from Facebook have said there is currently no intention of using Nearby Friends as a method for advertisers to hook into their clientele, CNET confirmed with Facebook that there are plans in the future to use Nearby Friends for marketing or for advertising. The plan is that eventually, advertisers will be able to target their ads quite effectively based on the location of those who are in the advertiser’s particular region. Features like Nearby Friends could go a long way towards helping advertisers make that happen.
Nearby Friends also effectively creates a log of your travels, which means Facebook and advertisers alike could potentially tap into that log to create thoroughly effective advertisements for people who live in a particular region. The fact that Facebook is creating a feature that will allow advertisers to tap into the social media network’s location data for their users is not really all that surprising; advertisers boosted Facebook’s revenue by $2.34 billion in the fourth quarter, so it’s a virtual certainty that the social media network is looking to pay back the favor to the advertisers that so generously bolstered their revenue.
For those who do not want to take on the Nearby Friends app, the feature is actually an option rather than a “must have.” This will no doubt come as welcome news for the high number of those who are becoming increasingly concerned about internet security, as it means that they do not have to try and take extra measures to ensure personal security while online. Regardless, the news that Facebook does intend to allow advertisers to target their ads based on location history of Facebook’s users is sure to rattle a good many individuals and will definitely change the face of advertising to a certain extent.