Can social networks be made advertiser friendly ? This is the top question on the mind of both Web companies and media giants that have bought into the social networking pie. There is still the missing piece to making advertising click and its even being questioned whether companies should attempt to do so.
From the patent side, Bill Slawski at Seo By The Sea has a post on a latest filing from Google on using the details from a user’s profile, contacts and groups to place ads in context on their page. What is interesting is that in case the profile information is scanty, the system will provide advertisements based on the tastes of the contacts of with whom the user is connected.
Technology aside, Facebook’s experience with the Beacon program has resulted in some serious questions on how to make money of social networks in a manner that users find tolerable. The problem here is that social networks are not exactly media that users consume. Unlike search, video or other form of media, there is no immediate tangible motive for a person on a social network. There is also the question as to whether social networks need to be monetized at all. From the point of view of a brand promotion, social networks are great avenues. But move that space over from being company hosted to being a generic online hang-out and brand promotion becomes all so intrusive.
The ideal solution to make money off social networks continues to remain illusive. Constant experimentation by the likes of Google and FaceBook will hopefully result in some sustainable form of revenue generation.