How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments

Facebook is on a campaign to lure new advertisers, complete with a new promotional website that reveals just how much of our lives the social network puts up for sale.

"Facebook ads can be highly targeted," the company writes on the new advertiser-focused site, launched today. An accompanying brochure explains just how targeted: people who just gave birth; who just got engaged or married (or, presumably, divorced or broken up); who left college (or enrolled); who have "liked" certain activities; who have listed certain interests; and who are in a particular age range. Facebook touts its ability to reach an "exact audience:"

By drawing on the authentic and realtime information people enter in their profiles.... Facebook... gives you the unique opportunity to find people at moments in their lives when they are most likely to show interest in your products or services. This is incredibly powerful for businesses—you can find new customers when they start or finish college, get engaged, get married or start a family—at times when they are most likely to need your products... You can target broadly by demographic and geographic preferences or you can get granular by targeting people's specific "Likes and Interests."

Facebook brags in any number of ways on the site about its central role in people's lives. In one instance, it cites trapped children who used Facebook in leiu of calling emergency services:

When two Australian girls became trapped in a storm drain... their first instinct was to update their Facebook statuses. A rescue team arrived soon afterward and they were pulled to safety. While this is not the recommended course of action in a crisis, it is remarkable that their first reaction was not to make a phone call, but to post a status update to Facebook. [Emphasis added.]

Facebook's surplus of intimate moments—and its willingness to target ads in those moments—appear to be staggeringly profitable: An article released today by the MIT Technology Review, which was granted access to Facebook ad executives, says that, after earning an estimated $4 billion in annual revenue, Facebook is "just getting started" creating "an entirely new way to advertise." despite now earning an estimated $4 billion in annual revenue. "For the first time, you can do word-of-mouth marketing at massive scale," Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells the magazine. And what better way to drum up word of mouth than to start with the most susceptible marks?

[Image via this Facebook promotional video]