Social networking has grown exponentially in its popularity over the past decade by bringing people together across the globe. Marketers are now starting to see how they can benefit from social sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter because they can take advantage of the users' demographic information and target their ads appropriately. There are different forms of social network advertising.
This year $3.8 billion will be spent on social network advertising worldwide, with a large portion of this spending coming from US markets. As Internet usage continues to grow in developing parts of the world and social websites gain popularity overseas, social networking advertising spending outside of the US will start to play a major role. Social advertising is an important new way of reaching customers because marketers are now becoming part of the message that is directly delivered to the people.
There are three major classifications of Social Network Advertising: The first type is direct advertising based on your network of friends. This is the most effective format but is also the most controversial. On Facebook, your decisions can be influenced by an action your friend has taken. For example, you may see on your newsfeed that your friend Bob has just bought a CD from MusicWorld. Because people make many of their purchase decisions based on their close group of friends, this can be an effective way to influence consumers. This is considered controversial because it can be equated to exploiting personal relationships with your friends and raises concerns about privacy.
The second type is direct advertising placed on your social site. This is a traditional form of web advertising that is minimally effective. These ads are presented as bricks at the tops of pages or as banners running down the side of pages. The advantage of placing these on social sites is that advertisers can take advantage of demographic data on your profile and target the ad directly to you. Also, these ads can be placed by individual developers on their application pages through ad networks. They have access to the same demographic data and can generate income for developers and giving advertisers a more engaging way to reach out to social users. These types of advertisements are minimally effective because users are bombarded with these ads everywhere they go on the Internet, leading them to largely ignore their presence.
A third type is indirect advertising by creating groups or pages. This is an innovative technique in which a company will create a page or group that users can choose to join. The page is used to build up subscribers or fans. It can be used to market a contest, a new product, or simply to increase brand awareness. Each day, these pages post to users' newsfeeds reminding them of promotions or new products. Sometimes these pages post videos or ask questions of their fans to engage with their consumers and generate interest in their products and brands. This can be a very effective marketing tool because these groups grow very quickly. If one of your friends join these groups, it appears on the side of your page, prompting you to "like" the page as well.
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