Amid all the excitement over Facebook/Skype’s big announcement last Wednesday, a slight groan could be heard in digital marketing offices from New York to New Guinea. OK maybe New Guinea is a stretch but I’m sure you catch my drift. According to an email distributed by a Facebook spokesperson, marketers looking to conduct video chats through their Pages or hold group powwows with users are out of luck. In the grand scheme of engagement things, this is not exactly the dawning of the marketing apocalypse. Facebook has given digital professionals plenty of tools to work their branding mojo. Aligning with Skype could be the social network’s way of optimizing for its original audience, which has felt somewhat neglected by Facebook as it has grown into an online marketing juggernaut. Still, it will be interesting to see how long it will take savvy marketers and branding officers to get around any Facebook/Skype limitations.
Perhaps the more important development to come out of Camp Zuck is that private chats and messaging cant be used for Facebook ad targeting. Last year, Facebook couldn’t go a week without experiencing some privacy headache. In June, many users scoffed at Facebook’s Facial Recognition app, which instantly tagged photos of friends by matching faces within its exponentially large facial database. By partnering with an online video chat platform like Skype, Facebook may be strategically attempting to right the Facial Recognition fail as it simultaneously expands its offerings to its 750 million strong user base.
It will be a while before we are able to measure the success of this partnership for loyal users and yes, ultimately, marketers. Will it force digital insiders to reevaluate their overall ad targeting approach? Will it make Skype a more viable corporate go to? Maybe marketers can hold video chats on their personal Facebook pages and come to their own conclusions.