Posted on August 19, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

Facebook’s monetization are well known and I’ve discussed them in some depth. I’ve also raised questions about specifically, as have .

When Facebook hired former Googler Sheryl Sandberg to serve as COO, transforming Facebook into an advertising powerhouse was clearly one of the goals she was supposed to help the company accomplish.

After all, Facebook’s announcing her hire mentioned that “she built and managed Google’s online sales channels, which represent the majority of Google’s customers worldwide, for both AdWords and AdSense.”

Zuckerberg even stated, “She has relevant experience and a track record of scaling business operations and building new kinds of advertising networks.”

Yet since of Facebook’s Beacon, Facebook’s struggle to figure out an ad-based business model worth $15 billion hasn’t gotten any easier and Sandberg appears to be ill-equipped to do for Facebook what she supposedly did for Google.

At the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in July, Sandberg marginalized the importance of monetization, stating:

Our focus is on growth–we believe this is the moment people are joining social networks. Then it’s monetization to support that growth.

Claiming that she doesn’t feel any pressure to generate revenues, Sandberg reiterated the fact that she still sees a Google-sized opportunity in Facebook:

This isn’t search and it’s not monetization of search–that’s direct response. We’re not trying to compete with direct response. We do see a huge opportunity in performance and brand marketing. More than 90 percent (of marketing dollars) spent in the world are not in direct, but in brand, and that’s (about) generating awareness.

While that’s quite a departure from the notion that innovative offerings like Beacon could drive tangible results for Facebook advertisers, it’s clear that Sandberg isn’t abandoning the Google direct response model altogether.

How do I know? Because I stumbled upon the fact that Facebook is using Google AdWords to solicit advertisers.

Yes, the company that some believe is “the next Google” is using Google in an attempt to attract paying advertisers:

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it doesn’t look good for a company as hyped as Facebook. After all, if Facebook feels the need to spend money soliciting advertisers using AdWords, it’s hard to believe that the company’s advertising business is thriving.

And the fact that Facebook is willing to pay enough to “win” top spots for terms such as “advertising,” “online advertising” and “CPC” smacks of downright desperation.

After all, if the most popular social network in the world is trolling generic Google searches for paying advertising customers, one has to wonder just how successful its internal efforts are. Certainly its efforts with AdWords seem a little bit aggressive for a company that supposedly has the whole world eating out of its hand.

I guess when Mark Zuckerberg informed us that “once every hundred years media changes” and that Facebook would revolutionize advertising (which Zuckerberg seemed to believe equivalent to “media”), he decided that the best way to let advertisers know about the revolution would be to purchase text ads for just a bunch of generic advertising-related keywords on Google.

Fortunately for Sheryl Sandberg, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and no matter how things turn out with Facebook, her probable future executive bio will remain quite impressive:

Sheryl Sandberg is Chief Operating Officer at Some Silicon Valley Startup. Sheryl’s technology career began at Google, where she was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations. At Google, Sheryl built and managed the online sales channels for advertising and publishing and operations for consumer products globally, including AdWords and AdSense. Previously, Sheryl was Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, widely considered the Webvan of Web 2.0. At Facebook, Sheryl continued to build Google’s online sales channels by managing Facebook’s $10 million annual AdWords budget.

At the end of the day, I can’t help but chuckle at the irony of the situation.

For all the hoopla about Facebook competing with Google and the seemingly intentional luring of some of Google’s (sarcasm) away from the Googleplex to Facebook’s pad in Palo Alto, Facebook is relying on Google AdWords to find advertisers.

In my opinion, that pretty much tells you all you need to know.

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Drama 2.0 spikes the Web 2.0 kool aid by providing critical analyses of Web 2.0, its people, its startups and its impact on the world of media. Other topics are explored when Drama 2.0 has been drinking too much 1975 Dom Perignon. Read more about the Internet's version of Keyser Söze here.