Social networks have some of the lowest advertising response rates on the Web. Why, you may ask, since this medium has been anointed as the next Big Thing in advertising?
Many say that people who hang out on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites pay too little attention to ads because they’re more interested in chatting with their friends. Even though websites struggle to convert traffic into revenue, their click-through rates are better than social networking sites—much of it because website visitors seem to be more in the buying mood.
People are on social networking sites…well…um to be social, so the sell is a little more difficult and almost impossible if the message is irrelevant to them. They’re there to spend time with friends—not ads, after all.
eMarketer predicts that social network advertising worldwide will continue to grow—reaching $3.8 billion in spending by 2011. However, if advertisers don’t get a handle on how to more effectively target their messages, social networking could end its reign as media’s new digital advertising darling.
In traditional media forums, advertisers buy time and space adjacent to content that potential customers might find appealing. For example, companies that want to market trucks, aimed at men, advertise around sports-related content. But on social networking sites where content is generated by the user and is very dynamic in nature, it’s hard to target in that manner. So, advertisers resort to the old blanket, one-size-fits-all approach.
Read my lips (rather my key strokes): That no longer works. Well, I’m not sure that ever really worked, but it was better than nothing back in the day.
Users are becoming increasingly annoyed with the ad deluge on social networks. The current ads just aren’t relevant enough, so users tune them out. However, the right targeting technology can certainly help the cause. And, I’m not talking about the more invasive, “creepy” targeting based on demographic data culled from users’ profiles or that which exploits the personal relationships users have established in the network. Does Chelsea really want to know that her hip college friend Britney has just (secretly) purchased the latest Jonas Brothers CD?
When advertising becomes a distraction, then users ignore the ads. More intrusion is not the answer, but relevancy is.