Last year we saw Outbrain explode in popularity across publishers large and small. But their rise to fame is nothing compared to Facebook's next big move - better, smarter, pervasive but not invasive personalized and contextualized recommendations. Facebook has nearly a decade of experience optimizing and personalizing our feeds. They know what we read, watch and listen to, what we are interested in, who our friends are, what and so much more. Facebook has the experience and scale to turn this data into a goldmine.
Check out the screenshot beside this post. When I right clicked on Professor Jeff Jarvis's post, Facebook dynamically loaded the box below his with video recommendations. It would be quite simple for Facebook to add a sponsored video to that feed. It also wouldn't be a big leap for Facebook to make this unit available for publishers for inclusion below their content. With a ratio of 15% sponsored recommendations to 85% organic recommendations, publishers would see this unit as a win-win and users would be very likely to engage. Publishers would see page views (and ad revenues) rise and Facebook would recognize the sponsored content revenue. Over time, larger publishers would likely have the option to remove sponsored content for a negotiated fee, further increasing the revenue to Facebook while increasing the data they collect.
And here's why this is a goldmine.
These recommendations will work as well on desktop as they do on mobile. And they will work as well with videos as they do with music, books, magazines, apps, products, restaurants and so much more. This is the next generation of performance media, driven by engagement rather than interruption while monetizing the forgotten white space - below the fold. Facebook Recommendations will be like AdSense for the connected age, amplified by the exponential reach of connected devices and engagements.
Welcome to Facebook Recommendations.