Some more ramblings on advertising on social networks, as I have written about it lately already: Sean Carton also thinks that advertising on social networks won’t work properly using regular ads. His point of why widgets might be the better solution (and I agree):
This is why widgets have been getting so much play lately: they don’t intrude on the user experience. Yeah, they’re branded. Yeah, they’re obviously a product of crass commercialism, but when done well they enhance rather than detract from the experience. They can become part of the conversation you’re having with friends and acquaintances, not an interruption of that conversation. Are widgets the answer to how advertising can work in social networking?
Not at all, but they’re a beginning. The answer will become apparent when we think outside of the ol‘ display advertising box and start to imagine ways we can work with the essential nature of social networking, rather than against it.
How can we join communities of interest in an authentically helpful way? How can we give consumers the tools to facilitate their conversations about our products or services (conversations they’re going to have anyway, with our without our help)? How can we help connect them to get help, advice, or suggestions from others (Dave Evans has a few good ideas)? How can we make it easier for true believers and brand fans to do the selling for us (or help recruit new fans)? How can we work with what’s going on rather than against it?
The question is, whether this is really a solution for all advertisers. Also, these considerations, same as the debate about the effectiveness of contextual ads only focus on the click rate as the only measure of success. I know, I know, we’re in the interactive space, so why go back to the old ad measurement models?
But then again, an eyeball is an eyeball and nobody can deny the value of attention of these eyeballs. Even if the click rate suggests failure, the message might have stuck. Don’t you think? Otherwise you would reduce the awareness and brand building capabilities of the online space to a story of how many people clicked, not how many people saw and remembered the message. That can’t be right, can it?*
But, going back to Seans point: yes, let’s rather entice the consumers with something of value. Something that provides this value at a point in time and (web-)space, where the consumer will most likely associate the best positive times with your brand because of your contribution to their needs and preferences. If it can be done best on social networks providing widgets (at least for now), then think of a good idea and go do it!
(*I am not oblivious at all to the fact, that interaction with the ads (i.e. clicking and interacting with the subsequent pages) will reinforce the message, make the whole awareness campaign x-times more successful!)