Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Social Media Advertising Accessible to the Big Guys Now

You know it would happen as now as marketing budgets get tighter they have found ways to pull in additional income (in reality they were working on this for a while now) accessible to larger companies with money to spend.

With Silicon Valley venture capitalists telling their portfolio companies to tighten their belts for the recession, it might be a funny time to introduce a new platform for advertising, which is likely to be hard hit as companies cut costs.

Yet ad platforms are exactly what MySpace and visual search startup Eyealike launched on Oct. 13. MySpace MyAds is designed to help anyone from local retailers to musicians and politicians create targeted ads for their social network's 122 million users, with out having to know all sorts of fancy programming and layout work.

MySpace MyAds lets SMBs craft custom banner ads for specific audiences. Business owners can then analyze how their ad campaign is faring on MySpace. According to MySpace's instructions, MyAds looks easy enough for even an all thumbs person like me to create.

Advertisers can either go to the MyAds site or click the Advertise link at the bottom of any MySpace page. Users create a display ad using the MyAds Builder Tool and select an ad price range from $25 to $10,000. Sweet deal huh? But only if you actually make the right connections with your banner ad.

Users can then target the customers with MySpace's HyperTarget technology, which gauges age, sex and geographic location against specific keywords within each user’s interest category. Sounds like a target marketers dream come true. When the advertiser works out their ad, MySpace's customer support will makes sure the ad is up to specifications, the ad can go live. MySpace charges the campaign when a user clicks on the ad. Users track ad performance with MyAds analytics reporting. This tool tracks impressions, click-through and a running cost on active campaigns.

The wide-range price point could be attractive to the active Social Network Marketer. Will Internet advertising dry up as ad dollars get tighter or just be limited to massive, sprawling ad campaigns? It's unclear at this early stage. Or will MySpace through in some juicy perks to make cynics like me want to go for a test drive?

Eyealike VisualAd, meanwhile, is billed as an image and video-based contextual ad platform for social networks and rich media. Eyealike CEO Greg Heuss said that VisualAd is similar to Google's AdWords, but instead of using keywords to target ads, the platform indexes, filters and classifies images and videos. Here comes Web2 at its utmost?

Also, unlike Facebook and MySpace ads that target demographics, the VisualAd platform analyzes facial features, skin color, hair, gender, as well as objects such as logos or product images in online images and videos to serve targeted ads. We are getting to some really cool stuff here guys. I mean where you going to go to get this kind of pin-point accuracy, if they can indeed really come through like this.

VisualAd could be used to identify an infant's face in a user's profile image on a social network. The site could assume that the user has an infant and serve an ad about diapers or baby food.

Heuss believes VisualAd could match more ads to images and improve the match based on the actual image, increasing ad revenue for social networks. VisualAd, priced on an annual licensing fee that varies according to CPU and storage size, modules purchased and use frequency, works as either an API or as a self-hosted solution and runs on Windows and Linux.

VisualAd comes at a time when Facebook and MySpace sell ads on low CPM rates, from 8 cents to 12 cents per one thousand views; Eyealike believes VisualAd could help making the same exact page view worth $2 to $20. But remember the true cost is not in the number of hits or clicks but in the cher-ching of your cash register

I have got to love Eyealike's approach, a visual breath of fresh air against the keyword world of Google and the demographic-focused bent of MySpace and Facebook. I am going to be watching Eyealike a lot in the next few months as have their roll out and wish Eyealike good luck.

But let's keep everything in perspective, MySpace MyAds and Eyealike's VisualAd. Citing research notes that the online ad market is in trouble and that dozens of advertising networks that have cropped up over the past two years will be impacted. Do I hear Ning?

Google is the very company MySpace and Eyealike are trying to differentiate from so it may be a safe bet thanks to its performance-based ad system.

Larson note: Keep in mind how the works economy is right now, and how companies are looking at there ad dollars. Social Media marketing is out there and the big guys really want in, in a way that does not have the high time needs that it has today. This might be just the lead in the Fortune 1000 have been looking for. Good yes, but it might drive the price up for the 5-million and under companies, but they can get in the ball game by out networking. Keep your skills honed in and refined.

Howard Larson
Larson & Associates
Telesales & Target Marketing Professionals for new account acquisition
Making good businesses great and great businesses even better

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