Tuesday, September 01, 2009

But, I thought it was supposed to be social?

ComScore came out with a report that shows how important social media has become...to traditional advertisers.

The report shows that 20% of all online display ads (you know, the flashing, spinning, click me's that are priced on delivery rather than impact) are served via such social stalwarts as Facebook, MySpace and DeviantArt (well, ok, not all of them are stalwarts).

chart via Comscore (here)

So what?

For one, it means that the wireless companies think social media is where there prospective customers are...you know, the kids, mom, dad...even the dog. Because wireless companies AT+T, Sprint and Verizon represent 3 of the top 10 display advertisers in the social media space. And they'd be right...their customers are online. Everyone is. At least if they are under the age of 65 (here). Wouldn't you think though that the wireless carriers would try to advertise in the mobile stream they already own? Or do they know that their customer would rise up against the
intrusion machine in their mobile space?

Second, the data may mean that alot of media buying agencies don't really get social media. Because if you are buying display ads in social media, then you either: (A) have surplus ad dollars to spend; or (B) beleive that social media users are there to passively react to what they see. And while that may be true for some, anyone who uses social media regularly knows that you are more likely to be sending friends virtual puppies, taking quizzes to determine what kind of candy bar you'd be, or tagging yourself in your friends photo albums...in addition to networking and commenting on posts about all manner of social media topics of course.

What people on social networks were supposed to do, as opposed to what they did on Web 1.0 sites, was be social...make the network ours. Engage others. Lean in. Interact...have fun. Display advertising is, by its very nature, a solitary act of cognition. You may see it (see banner blindness). It may be relevant. It might be in context. But what makes it social?

In the end, the fact that we're talking about impressions served...and not mice clicked or pass-alongs...or tweet memes...probably says everything we need to know about display ads on social networks: They're just another attempt to force fit square marketing tactics into round media holes.

Prior post on social network advertising from 2009 South By Southwest interactive session (here).

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