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BizReport : Social Marketing : February 11, 2009

The problem of advertising on social networks

New research from InsightExpress found that social media users see advertising on social networks as a hot topic where traditional ads are out but participatory and opt-in ads are tolerated. Meanwhile, uVizz are promising an ad experience that 'fits' with how consumers use social networks.

by Helen Leggatt

It's becoming clear that ads that engage and add to online interactions will become the most acceptable on social networks, and InsightExpress's recent survey bears this out. Forty percent of social networkers surveyed said they would tolerate opt-in ads on their networks, while only one in five said the same of behavior-based ads.

Interestingly, on social networks where marketing messages are currently most obvious, identified as MySpace, Classmates and Facebook, users are less willing to view them. On sites where marketing is less obvious, as on LinkedIn, there is less resistance to the showing of ads.

Obvious marketing messages on social networks are jarring, they distract from the environment. Marketers must realize that the more marketing crowds out interaction on social networks, the more consumers will push against it.

"Recognizing the rapid growth of social networks and social networking audiences, advertisers have focused on creative engagement and how to apply their brands within a new environment," said VP/Group Director-Digital Media Measurement Drew Lipner of InsightExpress.

"The broad and exciting acceptance of social networking also reinforces the distinct need to develop targeted and relevant campaigns for this channel with the help of advanced measurement tools."

uVizz has developed a short video that succinctly explains the problems advertisers encounter when trying to advertise on social networks. It demonstrates that the main reason for visiting social network sites is to engage with a network of friends, which is why users aren't paying attention to ads, evident from the low click through rates currently being experienced.

uVizz's proposed solution, which is due to be launched in the next few months, is to inject advertising messages into the online conversation. For this type of ad campaign to be successful, users must want to talk about and share those messages with their network of friends. In a nutshell, only by embracing the nature of social networks will advertising find a way through.

Tags: click-through rates, online advertising, online conversation, opt-in ads, social networking, social networks, traditional ads, uVizz

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