Running With Foxes

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Trend Spotting 2.0

Advertising in social networks is challenging. Social networks have created highly engaging and sticky sites for their users to meet and play with friends. As a consequence, users are often more interested in each other than the advertisements. Much has been written about Facebook and MySpace’s own difficulty in making ads appealing to their users. Venturebeat has its own take. Dave Gentzel also chimes in.

But what if you had advertisements that engaged users the same way the networks do, by interacting with their friends. Today SocialMedia announced a new technology for creating advertisements within social networking applications called “Social Banners”. Social banners are social applications within ad units that let users play with their friends, while engaging with products.

These units feature a product and call to action by the user to interact with their friends. For instance, a campaign for “The Incredible Hulk” featured an advertisement for the movie along with an chance to invite you friends. Another campaign for BMW let users go for a “joy ride” with their friends in a new BMW 1 series. After a friend clicks on you in a “Social Banner”, another banner is cued up for your friend to convey the response (i.e. invite you for a joy ride). This is just a start for the technology and will evolve into more formats such as quiz questions or gifting apps.

At the core, these ads are not just about choosing a friend from the list of your publicly available friends, but about connecting users with the friends they value most. The technology behind it is called FriendRank(TM). FriendRank(TM) is a patented system that learns which people are important to you to make the ads more relevant and valuable to users.

If the ads don’t add value, users can easily opt out through a link in the ads and not see them again. The ads also only appear within applications and include no personal information outside of the publicly available profile photo and name.

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