Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reality Check - Social Media Advertising

I was lucky enough to moderate a panel on Social Media Advertising at the jam packed Web 2.0 Conference hosted by WebGuild Silicon Valley in Santa Clara today. The speakers were realistic and at the same time excited to talk about the opportunities for traffic generation (either through the social site or through organic search results that are an end-result of the social advertising activities) and online sales.

Cam Balzer - VP of Emerging Media for DoubleClick/Performics. Cam covered the traffic stats of sites like youtube and facebook. (Did you that 25% of Canadians have a Facebook profile? No jokes about being snowed in with nothing else to do please). He also talked about the targeting of specific people based on keywords, groups, applications of FaceBook; showing the ease of the user interface and encouraging all to try it.

Rajiv Parikh - CEO, Position2; a Search Engine Marketing company engaged in what was called 'viral' or 'buzz' marketing, now called social media advertising. He gave two excellent examples of video, facebook usage, myspace usage and article placement to help gain visibility and traffic for a site called EffinFunny. The work Position2 did for this client helped gain high rankings - above the competition - in organic search results.

Kent Lindstrom - CEO, Friendster. As one of the pioneers in social media Kent talked to the real reality of monetizing social media members. He felt that even with targeting groups or personality traits people on social networks are not there to buy. He feels the ad models are still evolving and it is worth a dabble but don't bank your company on social media advertising.

I talked about the breadth of social media sites and peer review sites that are worth at least joining or monitoring to see what how ads are being served up: Digg, Technorati, Linked In, Friendster, Facebook, etc. I mentioned the fact viral marketing (free submission of videos, articles, blog postings, etc) is extremely time consuming. Buying ads on sites such as Facebook currently has about 1/10th of the return of Google Adwords, less even than Google Adsense or other contextual networks. Still no clear answer to whether social media advertising will work for B2B companies.

It was a great session and I believe the audience walked away with lots to think about and some things to go to the office and play with. Thanks to WebGuild for a great conference.

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