To go straight to the White Elephant: Google is not an advertising company. Yes, GOOG takes all of it’s money from something called AdWords, but that has as much in common with what is called an «Advertising Agency» as Apples and Lemons. This is to say, GOOG does NOT have 2 main products, search and ads, GOOG has just one product and it is search. The genius of the thing is that is converted the advertising problem into a subdomain of the search problem.
In the same vein, FaceBook as an advertising agency is doomed. But does it care? Does anyone care?
It comes down to what is advertisement good for. It mainly is not about convincing anyone, really, but about informing costumers. As in the guy needs to know what is your product in order to buy it. But the whole convincing thing has to come from your product itself. The reason is that no matter how strong are your convincing powers, they’ll only last till first buy, but companies need repeated costumers.
In a culture flooded by differentiated companies trying to advertise too many products you have a very low signal to noise ratio (in the sense that everyone is shouting and you can’t be bothered to listen to them all, not in the sense that you actually judge people by how loud they can shout).
Then along comes GOOG and sez: “Search, don’t sort”.
In other words, AdWords is just SEO without the middleman. Then GOOG created something that might smell like advertising from a thousand miles but is not, and it is something that probably could not exist without this webby world and let’s face it, without big G.
Whatever. People are questioning whether FaceBook can survive on advertising. Of course it can’t. Advertising online is just a bad idea. But it doesn’t care. Because this is not what FaceBook is about. It is about enslaving us, so to say. Most everyone you know is much more sensitive about friends and people than about money. We don’t tell that to ourselves, but that’s how it is. Buffet is not like that, but most people are not like Buffet. FB has us hostage somewhere it hurts more than at our wallets. It’s crack to our social brains. This does not sound good, and i am as anti-FB as any sane person around, but they do not need advertising. They don’t think as an advertising agency anymore than GOOG does.
Of course, the sane “exit” for FB is to do exactly what GOOG did, which is to force them to come to your terms. That means making companies behave like gossiping teenage girls. This is another way to say that FB is about that other kind of advertisement, branding, where what matters is not informing your client, but commanding a better position at the pecking order. The problem with that is it is an arms race, you have to run a lot to keep on the same place. That is why FB, even if it does “succeed”, will not repeat GOOG’s feat of “creat[ing] a better experience for both advertisers and users”. It will just add to the culture of celebritization. Thus, teenage-girl-gossip.
If i was at that position, and thank bog i am not, my take would be to create a (paid) corporate interface to FB, one where teams maintaining FB Pages and Identities were forced to actually deal with people instead of being SPAM-bots, since SPAM can easily be accomplished with simple scripts.
But one way or another, FB is not about the money. FB is about something far sillier. That is why it does not care about failing.