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December 26, 2010 4:13 PM   Subscribe

product.com (fake name for this question) is the product. If given one space for a URL in advertising, why would you use facebook.com/product?

Isn't that a lot like saying, "Call 1-800-123-4567 to get our phone number"? Why pay to promote someone else's website.

It doesn't have to be facebook, but that the social media du jour. So feel free to offer facebook-centric answers. I saw a TV ad recently for Jeep that said "visit us at youtube.com/jeep" Why wouldn't they send potential customers/viewers to jeep.com or jeep.com/youtube or jeep.com/videos (if they couldn't use the name)?

Thanks in advance!
posted by sandra_s to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't explain their reasoning behind it, but I know that I'm on Facebook 24/7 and I'm more likely to look up a Facebook page than a website. I know the format of Facebook and Youtube and various other social-media sites, and it's easier for me to find information on, for example, the Jeep Facebook site than the Jeep website. I would guess that they get more traffic from some age groups by directing to Facebook or Youtube than to their website. I don't see it as "promoting" Facebook, I see it as a way of marketing their information to a group of people that might not normally look at anything about their product.
posted by kro at 4:22 PM on December 26, 2010

Because they want to do interactive marketing with the people on the Facebook group (or on Twitter, or whatever) for that particular initiative, rather than people passing by the website, maybe?

It's also possible that they may be tracking responses to that campaign by counting the increase in hits on Facebook.com/product, by analogy to the old-school method of using a campaign-specific 1-800 number to track how many people are calling in response to that particular ad burst.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:25 PM on December 26, 2010

They probably have a Facebook page that you can "Like" and then they'll post things to it every day and you'll see them on your friend feed and the advertising will go on and on.
posted by Mala at 4:25 PM on December 26, 2010

If you visit Jeep.com/videos, then none of your friends know you did unless they look at your browser history.

If you visit facebook.com/Jeep and click on something, Like something (gag), sign up, do anything, then it becomes part of your feed and now your friends are clicking on this stuff. They just got more advertising bang for their buck.
posted by special-k at 4:28 PM on December 26, 2010 [6 favorites]

Good points made by all. I also think people think sites like Facebook and Youtube are more "trustworthy" than some random company web site. Bonus points for the ability to "like" and send links to your friends within the same social network about random product.
posted by littlesq at 4:30 PM on December 26, 2010

It says, "We have a Facebook site, you can network with us there." Or, "We have a YouTube site, you can check out some videos there."

That's more interesting than informing people that "Our company has a stand-alone website." Every company does these days.

The most important thing isn't informing people of the URL. Anyone who wants to find Jeep's website can Google "Jeep"; the fact that the URL is jeep.com isn't very interesting.

Also, why would someone want to visit Jeep's website? If you need to look at the site for some reason, you can find it on your own. But why would someone want to visit Jeep's Facebook page? To "like" it (so it show up in your profile and in your news feed), to see what other people are saying about it, to leave a comment, or just to satisfy your curiosity about what's on Jeep's Facebook page.
posted by John Cohen at 4:30 PM on December 26, 2010

In some cases, these things are co-branded promotions with the site, so the promotional agreement between Jeep and YouTube requires that advertising refer people to "youtube.com/jeep." This provides some incidental exposure for YouTube as well, so it's to their benefit.

This kind of targeting also allows them to deliver a specific experience to certain demographics. For example, an ad running during football games might point viewers to youtube.com/jeep, a site focusing on connections between Jeeps and action/adventure sports. Another ad running during Desperate Housewives might point viewers to content showing how Jeeps are perfect for the soccer mom set. The ordinary jeep.com needs to serve everybody, but the targeted subsites can focus on particular demographics.

Also, there may be a perception by the marketing department that people will think a YouTube or Facebook mini-site is cooler than the main site, so it might get better follow-through. The idea is that Facebook and YouTube are hot stuff, while jeep.com isn't, so by associating their brand with cooler sites, they look cooler by association. Is this true? Seems like nonsense to me, but I'm not a marketer.

Finally, it provides for better tracking/segregation of their audience. The marketing department can say "we delivered N contacts through our YouTube promotional channel" and distinguish those hits from traffic associated with other campaigns and organic traffic. This makes it easier to demonstrate results and compare the success of different efforts.

So there's a few possible reasons why advertisers would try to do this.
posted by zachlipton at 4:34 PM on December 26, 2010

To appear cool and hip?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:35 PM on December 26, 2010

I think there's also a remembering factor. People find it easier to remember "facebook.com/product" or "youtube.com/product" because it involves two things they already know. It's surprising how little the Average Internet User can remember of a URL.

And what if you tell someone to go to "product.com" but they type in "product.cm" or "products.com" and get a porn site by accident? Those "catch people who mistype the URL" domain squatters are frightening and ubiquitous.
posted by ErikaB at 4:35 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe they want to get demographic information about the people who "like" them.
posted by vincele at 5:18 PM on December 26, 2010

I run am responsible for all branding and outreach for a local non-profit, and we use Facebook to supplement, but not replace, our website, which remains our primary means of communication. Facebook facilitates promotion, but if you want total control of your message and your brand, Facebook merely drives the customers to your site.
posted by brownrd at 5:37 PM on December 26, 2010

They are defraying the cost of the advertising by sharing it with the destination.

When you see "visit us at facebook.com/product," then "product" received some form of compensation from Facebook, such as reduced advertising rates in other areas of Facebook.

And of course, Facebook gets to monetize the traffic coming to their site ("Oh, you're interested in 'product,' huh? Well, we'll make sure to note that, so we can sell other people the chance to serve you an ad targeted to people that like 'product,' just like you do."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:44 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Note that that's available only to bigger name companies that make big ad buys with Facebook.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:45 PM on December 26, 2010

I sat in a meeting not long ago in which a fairly important manager said "everyone knows people don't go to websites any more".

What this person meant, it turns out, was "people don't go to very many websites any more" or perhaps "people don't go to new and unfamiliar websites any more" (I think they're completely, laughably wrong, I should mention).

But it's related to the question, because what it really means is, "we need to take our content to them" -- we need to connect with those people whose web viewing is 99% YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, by taking our content to those sites. We can't hope for them to come to ours.

Also, of course, it's about a form of outsourcing. Does Jeep really want to set up their own video-serving operation, with all that entails? YouTube and Facebook are infrastructure nowadays, like the phone company and the electricity company. You could do it yourself, but why bother?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:31 PM on December 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

data mining of your fb info is a biggie. You'd be surprised how much (aggregate) info they'll get when you're logged into fb and visit their fb page.

plus what other people have already mentioned.
posted by jlunar at 7:34 PM on December 26, 2010

There's a growing segment of people that rarely visit anything outside of facebook. For them, the internet = facebook. That and that alone is the main reason. I don't get it, I find it really sad, but there's no denying it.
posted by justgary at 9:15 PM on December 26, 2010

Someone else may have grabbed "product.com" and the Product Company didn't want to pay a fortune to the squatter to buy it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:17 PM on December 27, 2010

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