I’m not jumping on this bandwagon just yet, here’s why. MySpace hyper-targeting is super elegant and compelling on powerpoint but in practice the results are mixed. Not much has been published by MySpace but we ran a few pilot programs around Hypertargeting and the results we achieved with some targeted content that mapped well to the MySpace demographic were mixed. MySpace talks about a “50%-300% improvement” in clickthrough rates but the problem is their baseline CTR case is so low to begin with that even 300% improvement only makes it less bad.
Extending Hypertargeting with self-service display ads makes sense but just having access to a self-service system doesn’t ensure that participants will be successful with it.
This week, the News Corp. property is rolling out its MyAds self-service banner ad system. It hopes to attract tens of thousands of organizations and small businesses to create their own display ads that will be matched to user interests and placed through a Google-like auction system. The bet is such placements, using “hyper-targeting” criteria that mines personal profile data, will make the 56 billion banners displayed by MySpace each month more valuable.
Advertising in social networks behaves differently than on websites, that much we know, and all of these sites have benefited from an environment that emphasizes that experimental value for brand advertisers. There are some compelling campaigns being run around social networks and I don’t want to pour water on them without giving credit for what is working, but successful campaigns are more the exception than the rule, were that not true we would be hearing a lot more about them. With a contraction in brand advertising in 2009 certain, social networks will come under increasing pressure to demonstrate that that advertising technologies are producing broad and identifiable success stories.