Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Social Banner Ads?

This morning’s Media Post reports on a keynote speech at the IAB Social Media Conference by Seth Goldstein, CEO of Social Media Networks. His agency is preparing to introduce a new type of “social banner” ad format, so he is not unbiased. That doesn’t make what he says less relevant.

"Social media is killing advertising," Goldstein said. "A few years ago people started to become more interested in each other [online] and less interested in advertising." With response rates for standard banner ads under 1% and search not geared to brand advertising, social media is the next frontier for major marketers to attack.

Even Google admits that its deal to serve ads on MySpace “is not monetizing as well as we had expected.”

In his talk Goldstein mentions advertising for the BMW Series 1, which I’ve mentioned before. I looked around to see what was going on specifically on Facebook and this is what I found; a contest on the Facebook Graffiti Wall app. The shot of the top looks pretty much like other contests we’ve seen, particularly in that viewers can not only participate (note that participation is directly on Facebook) but they can also vote on the winners. The bottom half shows product information that’s part of the page. According to what’s on the page the contest (now over) drew 9006 entries and 2143 fans who presumably followed it closely. Ok, so you’ve looked at the top of the page and you see entries by 2 highschoolers. What good does that do BMW (think tomorrow vs. today when answering that one)?

I looked further to see how much I could find about the entrants. You can see the Top 150 and the Winners. Do take a look—a screen shot just can’t do these justice! If you click through on the names of some of those who placed highest, you find that you can’t see their full profiles unless you “friend” them (which requires their permission if you aren’t a denizen of Facebook). So there’s a vote here for a modicum of privacy among these young adults. And from their pictures, it’s obvious that the winners and top entrants are young adults, not teenagers messing around. Young adults, remember, is the target market for the BMW Series 1.
Is this a digression? Maybe not. I found a hint about what social banner ads might look like on Goldstein’s corporate blog. He describes the evolution of online advertising as being, first, display then behavioral with social on the horizon. I know you can’t read what’s on that section; I had to blow it up so much I couldn’t copy it, but here’s what it says:

•“Where do you want to take a test drive?”
•“Have you seen Indiana Jones yet?”
•“Have you heard the new Goldplay (?) CD yet?”

You get the idea, especially once a social banner is on a targeted site. Where do you want to test drive (virtual or real?) the BMW? Let’s talk movies. Let’s talk about some band (that I’ve never heard of, so don’t target me!).

Engage people in a subject that interests them and begin a dialog with interested prospects. That’s the theme song of social media! Here are a couple of interesting ways to think about doing just that!

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