Sunday, December 14, 2008

Corporate America spurns user generated content but then can't find the key to advertising on social networking sites

FOR some time, Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, has been dipping its big toes into the vast pool of Facebook, now the world’s largest social network.

Independent experts on Web advertising have been watching, however,
and what they see is a myriad of difficulties in making brand
advertising work on social networking sites. Members of social networks
want to spend time with friends, not brands.

When major brands
place banner advertisements on the side of a member’s home page,
they pay inexpensive prices, but the ads receive little attention. Seth
Goldstein, co-founder of SocialMedia Networks, an online advertising
company, wrote on his Facebook blog that a banner ad “is
universally disregard.

And when they try to take advantage of new “social
advertising,” extending their commercial message to a
member’s friends, their ads will be noticed, all right, but not
necessarily favorably. Members are understandably reluctant to become
shills. IDC, the technology research firm, published a study last month
that reported that just 3 percent of Internet users in the United
States would willingly let publishers use their friends for
advertising. The report described social advertising as
“stillborn.”ed as irrelevant if it’s not ignored
entirely.”

I think the problem is advertisers still consider themselves "above" their intended consumers.  The article included this observation:

"companies generally do not like the idea of their brand sharing space
with unvetted material supplied by users. The IDC report said, “Brand
advertisers largely consider user-generated content as low-quality,
brand-unsafe inventory.”

Social networks are all about user-generated content!  Duh!!  Until the big money boys get their nose out of the air, they aren't going to be able to capitalize on social networks!  The article mentions they disdain contests but an article I read last week said contests soliciting user-generated content are quite successful at increasing product awareness.  Perhaps the marketing folks should pay more attention to some of us in IT.
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