Social Ads for the most part do not work, because the click-through rates are so abysmally low. But this concept outlined in the curated excerpts below could indeed be just the thing that would make advertising in social media something useful, as opposed to this.
It is very similar to my riff on the Super Tweet concept that was first raised by Scoble end of 2009, in response to Twitter announcing their initial advertising intentions. Which I have written upon previously, as well as the Advertising Failing On The Web issue in general.
The essence is the idea that by placing advertisements UNDER a contextual link you have to click to see them (along with other related content from the service in question, asf.), the act of clicking on that link puts the user in a completely different mindset than what typically happens during the more passive state of being interrupted during social media content consumption.
(And of course the effectiveness of the interruption decreases constantly, as users train themselves to just ignore the marketing messages as much as possible.) It is a more active, solution-focused mindset more in the vein of “classic” Web search.
AND it meets the other requirement I am always hammering home, that of contextual relevance: Offer people MORE of what they were already doing. Don’t try to offer them something random that has nothing to do with the context.
The “More like this” link could provide the necessary contextual glue! Twitter would be wise to shift their efforts in this direction as well, rather than trying to do this [instream ads, which users will train themselves to ignore in short order, like they have with every other form of unwanted display ad…] and be certain to reap mostly scorn and probably failure:
[post still needs to be transfered over from the now closed Amplify: alexschleber.amplify.com/2011/02/16/my-comment-on-twitter-ads-are-coming-before-april-and-twitter-worries-you-might-hate-them/ ]
Facebook continues to test and improve their own search results. Yet, are we too focused on how Facebook is tackling traditional search? What if Facebook added a simple More Like This link to certain news feed items?
Clicking on the More Like This link would return a news feed with related content. In this instance, it would return Open Graph pages related to Samsung and HDTVs.
… Implementing a More Like This feature relies on a number of assumptions. The largest of these assumptions is whether Facebook can identify the content of a news feed item. My example might be difficult because it’s a simple status update without a link that has Open Graph data already attached to it.
Why is this interesting? I believe a More Like This feature would change or move user intent. Search has traditionally been about intent harvesting. Users come to Google with an intent. (“I want to find a creme brulee recipe.”) At that point it’s a bit like shooting fish-in-a-barrel.
Why did I want to find that creme brulee recipe? What created that intent?
… A More Like This feature creates an interaction – an activity. The user is raising their hand and requesting more information about that content or topic. It might not be a traditional search – it may not translate into intent harvesting – but it’s certainly much further down the spectrum.
UPDATE: Riffing on “A Million (free) Angry Birds Downloads Exposes Critical Android Platform Fail”, which says “There is no possibility that an ad-laden video game is better than one without ads.”
Actually, there may be ways to make it very acceptable & lucrative for the App designer at the same time. The key is as with every other form of advertising online: Offer/sell people things that make sense in the context of what they were already doing!
You just have to step away from the “ad network” model, that will never work well because the offers will be way too random. But why is it that people playing Farmville on Facebook are paying real money to buy VIRTUAL tractors? Because the offer makes sense in the context of what they were already doing…
Anyway, Angry Bird’s makers could upsell the users from free to a premium version of the game. They could build in premium implements somehow a la Farmville. If you make each offer cheap enough to be an impulse purchase, people WILL buy. That’s why they put another quarter into the pinball machine or similar.
You can sell them Angry Birds “swag” trinkets (T-shirts, cups, posters, etc.) at Impulse Purchase prices. Etc. etc.