The Evil Dial: Scamville Illustrated

Last week I argued that it’s not possible for companies to balance a profit motive with a goodness motive. Many disagreed in the comments and elsewhere.

Well, I was wrong. It is possible to balance those competing goals. And nowhere is it illustrated better than this ridiculous decision that Facebook game publishers are forced to make when monetizing their apps via Super Rewards. There is literally a slider with one end that says “monetization” and the other end that says “user experience.”

Publishers are faced with a choice. Be good to users and don’t monetize well, which means less revenue to plow back into Facebook to advertise your games. You lose market share and disappear. We’ve had publishers tell us before that the worst offers are the ones that make the most money. People disagreed. I’m not sure how they’ll disagree now that they see the decision that publishers have to make:

Monetization or User Experience.

Are the publishers who chose monetization wrong? Yes, but they must do it to survive. Is Super Rewards wrong for pushing bad offers? Yes. (oh, yes). But as we’ve said before, Facebook is the ultimate offender. They make the rules. The more flexible the rules, the more money flows back to them in advertising. There is a direct relationship between the evil dial and Facebook’s revenues.

Facebook must set the rules so that the dial is permanently set to Not Evil, and then let the advertising play out from there. Otherwise they risk real long term brand damage. Users must know that Facebook is protecting them. That is a rule that can’t be bent. And bent it is, all the time.

More on Scamville here.