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Facebook applications were supposed to provide advertisers with compelling new ways to mine for customers on the Web, but the results have not panned out. Sony attempted to capitalize on the Facebook buzz and the holiday season with a branded snowglobe application. Just the sort of useless eye candy popular on the social network, but the application garnered less than 500 installations and only 35 active users. Why?

One explanation is that it was simply a bad application, transparently created by advertisers rather than developers well-versed in the network's mores; with no way to invite friends in on the fun, Sony's trinkets didn't take advantage of Facebook's built-in marketing mechanisms. Building a Facebook application for the mere sake of having one is probably not the advertiser's goal, but for the time being, ad agencies don't seem to be able to come up with much more than these hamhanded attempts. Desperate to seem hip, advertisers will likely keep shelling out for more useless apps — until they start looking at the numbers, and grow some globes of their own.