The Irony of Social Advertising

by Jay Deragon on 04/15/2011

The amount U.S. companies spend marketing themselves on social networking sites like Facebook is expected to grow from an estimated $4.5 billion last year to nearly $38 billion by 2015, according to a new report from Borrell Associates Inc.

More than 1.5 million local businesses participate in social networks, and they accounted for about half of all spending on social-network marketing last year, the report said.

“Given their unique ability to move messages among connected users, social networks have been irresistible to marketers looking for ways to deliver advertising and promotional messages,” the report said. “The results to date have been breathtaking.”

Borrell projects spending on social networking marketing will jump 68 percent this year alone, to $7.5 billion, with 11 cents of every online marketing dollar earmarked for such efforts. Five years from now, Borrell thinks social networking will capture one-third of all online marketing spending.

An increasing proportion of that spending will be on promotional campaigns rather than advertising, the consulting firm projects. While 88 percent of social networking marketing spending in 2009 went into advertising, that percentage is expected to drop about 50 percent in 2010 and 36 percent by 2015.

Profiling engines on Facebook identify user demographics and interests, allowing advertisers to target ads in specific ways, including age, gender, relationship status, education level, workplace, interests and connection to an advertisers’ Facebook page.

The report, “Social Networking Explosion: Ad Revenue Outlook,” includes a case study of a marketing campaign used to promote a comic-book convention in South Florida using ads on both Facebook and local cable television.

Can Advertisers Innovate?

As all this social stuff continues to accelerate in both adoption and advancement one would think that advertisers ought to examine their thinking.  While the above report shows how much is being spent on advertising and some success stories there is another side to the story.

The current methods of reaching people with propositions is the same method that has been used for decades. The shift has simply gone from off line to on-line and advertisers are trying every trick in the book to “catch” people with attractive ads and offers.  It would seem that the practice of building brand equity and loyalty can be better served by thinking differently about the ultimate buyer, you and I.  Maybe we aren’t necessarily interested in buying anything rather our interest is in learning something meaningful and valuable. Now that is a totally different veiwpoint for advertisers to comprehend.

World Wide Catacombs

Doc Searls writes: The Web is changing from a world wide library with some commercial content to a world wide mall with intellectually interesting publications buried under it, in virtual catacombs. Google’s mission of “organizing all the world’s information” is still satisfied. The problem is that most of that information — at least on the Web — is about selling something. The percentage of websites that are Web stores goes up and up. SEO only makes the problem worse.

The Berkman Center has a project that should encourage thinking about solving this problem, along with many others. Specifically,

The Berkman Center and Stanford Law School are pleased to announce a new initiative in which we invite the world to submit their ‘Ideas for a Better Internet.’ We are seeking out brief proposals from anyone with ideas as to how to improve the Internet. Students at Harvard and Stanford will work through early next year to implement the ideas selected. Interested parties should submit their ideas at by Friday, April 15. Please spread the word far and wide, and follow us on Twitter at

I don’t know about you but the last time I was in a mall….hmm, been so long I forgot. Which is more productive for any marketplace? Shopping or creating improved knowledge that we actually would want to consume to make better things? You decide

{ 1 comment }

simplynonna April 16, 2011 at 12:15 am

I think social network advertising is like the real world-only more immediate and global.In my local world I can only impact my immediate area (friends,family,neighbors). If 1 business does me wrong I will certainly let everyone know (used to be called salesman’s rule of 10)-ergo u piss 1 person 10 will get told about it. Not good for business.
Meanwhile the social network let u connect and compare notes globally. Either way being mistreated is not a good idea ,but bad publicity/treatment has a much more global reach.

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