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When Facebook goes down, an economy goes with it (theverge.com)
62 points by ciccionamente 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments





I've yet to see any stats from companies I work with that are heavily invested in Facebook who aren't just lying to themselves in meetings. The stats seem suspiciously off and their media content get almost zero interaction despite millions of followers. Which seems normal these days as Facebook and Twitter attempt to stay relevant.

But if all your chips are in Facebook, you've built a pretty weak business model. It's been about 2 years since I've been on Facebook, and I didn't even know about the outage until I went to a meeting with a client and they were all freaking out.


I used to work an ad tech startup (we ran ads on Facebook, Google, etc.) and we could easily track conversions led through our ads on Facebook. Websites install a "Facebook Pixel" which helps track users through ads and sites, and there is a lot of tracking data from Facebook through to a conversion, whatever you define that as.

This was roughly 2 years ago, but we had extreme clarity to how well ads were doing and how much it cost to get a conversion of someone by an ad. This could be defined as someone buying something, so you could get "it cost $x to earn $y" pretty readily.


The majority of marketing/ad teams nowadays are performance based. It is trivial to see what your approximate ROI is for FB ad spend. Source: I have been part of marketing teams at many venture backed and public companies and seen the data myself.

Do FB give you data for the controll group, target demographic FB users that did not see the add? Ie. whats the difference in ROI for 0$ and $$$?

It's even simpler than that. At the most basic, just count how many people convert on your site that entered the site with FB as the referrer.

I believe they give you enough to calculate it: rough demo size and unique views.

I don't know if anyone still plays games on there, that seemed to be a fairly legitimate Facebook only model if only as sort of a quick mercenary kinda thing where you could conceivably get in, get your money, and after that if you can't expand beyond that... well you maybe made some money or you didn't and you roll on.

But beyond that I'd hate to have a huge investment in office space, real estate, inventory and only be hanging on by Facebook. That's a recipe for disaster.


a subset of their users still does, but facebook is heavily limiting the communication channels of users and the feed is so random as to be almost unusable for gaming purposes.

Yeah I hand't heard much about it so I assumed that area kinda died. It had a short time in the sun.

"an economy"

I think maybe "a market" maybe works better here?

I get there's a thing happening here but if they're not spending that money on Facebook, can they spend it elsewhere? Or won't folks spending it because of facebook ads just spend that money elsewhere?


They use the example of one company that lost revenue, which implies a market, but the underlying idea is that a lot of companies from many markets depend on this ad channel. Hence, an economy.

Ah, I don't think I thought of it that way as far as definitions go. Interesting, thanks.

I agree with this, but something to note here is that usually people have ads across multiple networks. We used to manage ads on Google, Facebook, etc. These would be the same or extremely similar ad campaigns running simultaneously. The reason for this is that you get different clarity to groups that you advertise to, different performance metrics, different costs, different exposure numbers, and generally get to target to more people doing this. Not everyone uses Facebook, not everyone is Googling something relevant to your ad campaign at that time.

Yeah I kinda assumed the general spend going on here and the results are kinda fungible for all sorts of reasons.

The article kinda implies it is all or nothing but I don't think it is quite that all or nohting.


oh boo fucking hoo. companies paying tens of thousands of dollars to shove their ads in your face were unable to shove their ads in your face for a few hours. how tragic.

It also brought down Khan Academy's login system because they support Facebook logins and apparently never expected that to go down.

That's awesome! Facebook login is cancer and should die.

I couldn't login to Spotify and had to code for hours without my favorite playlist! Damn, the world is a cruel place these days

Facebook login has value for many people. It certainly makes it easier to create new accounts and then log into 3rd party websites.

If it went down, it may create much more value for many more people! =)

Also it’s not an economy it’s a market.

I think the thousands of people who saw the ads and then bought the product appreciate being shown the products' existence. Pretty much matchmaking in action.

Then again, it's those companies that pump money from the rest of the world's economies into FB & Google, allowing SV to keep the investment-acquisition machine running. So i d say you are trivializing it

but what about the ma's and pa's

Me ma be fine tanks

Impressive that they are selling $8-10k/day in false eyelashes ($12/piece) and meme products ($9.99, $29.99).

Relying on Facebook for a sizeable part of your business is rather foolish.

It's not about relying, it's about what works. A lot of companies advertise across Google, Facebook, television, radio, podcasts etc, but Facebook is frequently the best ROI for reasons that are entirely beyond an individual company's control. For some markets, there is simply no better ad platform than Facebook.

There is no safe haven. The only way to protect yourself is diversification.

In parts of the developing world, Facebook is used sort of like Craigslist to connect buyers and sellers, with the prospective client's friends list acting as a reputation system. Instead of this person to person bartering system, the developed world relies on advertisements and influencers for commerce. There's a Bloomberg article that goes deeper into this but I can't find it right now.

Are we even going to get a post-mortem on this? It seems substantial enough to warrant explanation, but they're usually a lot quicker than this...

What about the economical gains from employees not wasting time on Facebook or otherwise doing something else more meaningful?

Serious question - is this still a thing? I’ve only seen one, older, relative use Facebook in that way in the last few years. Do people really still use it as a distraction at work? The quality of content is so terrible I can’t stand scrolling for very long.

Yeup. I walk through the cube farm here every now and then and I see people with FB on their screens. I'm sure there's things they could be doing other than perusing the feed (like messaging, event planning, etc.)...

I also work in a meeting heavy culture where people will be on Instagram scrolling their feed while someone is talking on a conference call....


Nah, they all just kept hitting refresh every 5 minutes "how about now?"

There are things that shouldn't be sold and ways that things shouldn't be sold. A better market for false eyelashes shouldn't come at the cost of the many abominations that Facebook has introduced into your world.

Sounds like ‘to big to fall’ which to me is one more reason to let it go down.

Would you say the same thing about say, the electrical grid?

The electric grid is a public service. In Europe the actual wires are owned and maintained by a state company. Private companies compete by 'delivering' the actual energy.

Lets imagine the wires and delivering is all in the hands of one profit maximizing company. Because of their monopoly they increase prices every year, offer services like TV for free (to kill TV companies) and then start selling TV as well.

So yes, FB should really go down and be replaced with something else. Maybe governement owned infrastructure. They could then see everything, a difficult privacy problem, but I am pretty sure they do now already anyway.


Pretty interesting headline considering a lot of talk lately about breaking up Big Tech.

Good.



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