Home' Technology Review : July August 2008 Contents FEATURE STORY 41
WWW. TECHNOLOGYREVIEW. COM
sports and entertainment---that are subdivided into more than 1,000
narrower categories, such as baseball or a specific film. (E-mail and
personal messages are currently not scanned at either Facebook
or MySpace.) Says Adam Bain, president of the Fox Interactive
Media Audience Network, "People are essentially hand-raising
every single day on MySpace and other social-media sites. What
we want to do is take that and put it into easy-to-buy segments."
Bain says MySpace did extensive research before the launch.
"The users said, 'I understand I have to live with ads, and I don't
mind them,'" he says. "The concept of relevance really resonated
with users." The algorithm is constantly modified by a 150-person
team; it is already on its 12th revision. Although the program has
not yet led to riches, "it has led to an unprecedented amount of
advertisers coming to MySpace," Bain says. "We're getting blue-
chip brand names like Adidas, Schwab, and Electronic Arts, Frito-
Lay, Kraft, General Mills, and McDonald's."
Are those advertisers as excited as Bain is? "We've bought a little
bit," says Marc Ruxin, director of digital strategy and innovation
at the advertising firm McCann. "It's been okay." Well, that's better
than nothing. Still, it doesn't exactly settle the question of whether
targeting, even if it avoids the worst of users' privacy concerns, will
ever be able to punch through the attention barrier.
Another problem that targeting may not be able to solve is the one
posed by what advertisers call "content adjacency."
Unlike a newspaper or television show, social networking is
a medium whose content is deeply unpredictable. In the sports
pages of a newspaper, an advertiser knows roughly what kind of
material its ads will be running next to. But an enormous, highly
visible brand may not want to risk seeing its ad wind up on a page
such as that run by the actual Facebook group "I've Had Sex with
Someone on Facebook," which at press time had 59,353 members.
Or consider the MySpace profile (turned up after about two min-
utes on the site) of 18-year-old "Nikki AKA Death Angel!," which
is adorned with the motto "Don't fuckin fuck with ninjette bitch
we'll cut ur fuckin head o an give it to ur momma."
This is not content that commands high rates, although certain
buyers mind less. "Right now, the low-hanging fruit is entertain-
ment, because they're agnostic about content adjacency," says
Goldstein. Indeed, Nikki's badass profile features an ad for the
Warner Bros. film Get Smart. But even entertainment companies
are steering clear of the user-generated communities o ered by
Ning and KickApps. "It's not a controllable universe right now,
with the porn sites and such," Ruxin says. "It's a blind buy."
soft in a $900 million deal for
the rights to MySpace search
and search-related advertis-
ing; two weeks later, Micro-
soft negotiates the rights to
serve ads on Facebook.
Microblogging service Twitter,
developed by engineer Jack
Dorsey and Blogger cofounder
Evan Williams, goes live.
September Facebook opens
registration to anyone 13 or over
with a valid e-mail account.
October Internet marketing
research company ComScore
announces that the majority of
MySpace visitors are over 35.
July Twitter raises $5.4 mil-
lion in a round of funding led
by Union Square Ventures.
August News Corp. announces
that MySpace parent company
Fox Interactive Media turned
a profit for the first
time---$10 million on
$550 million in revenue.
Plaxo unveils Pulse,
a service designed
to pull in feeds from
MySpace, Twitter, and
other social-networking sites.
October Microsoft acquires a $240
million equity stake in Facebook; the
deal values Facebook at $15 billion.
November Mark Zuckerberg her-
alds the launch of Facebook s Social
Ads program as "a completely
new way of advertising online."
MySpace rolls out its Hyper-
Targeting and SelfServe advertis-
ing platforms, which target ads
on the basis of information that
users provide about themselves.
Google launches its OpenSocial
platform, allowing developers to
create applications that will work
on a variety of social-networking
sites, including Friendster,
LinkedIn, Hi5, and Ning
(but not Facebook).
December User back-
lash against Facebook s
Beacon, a key component
of the company s social-
forces Zuckerberg to issue a
public apology and change the
feature from opt-out to opt-in.
January As Google s advertis-
ing deal with MySpace produces
Google cofounder Sergey Brin
admits, "I don t think we have the
killer best way to advertise and
monetize social networks yet."
March Facebook hires Google
veteran Sheryl Sandberg as
chief operating officer; Sandberg
was a driver of Google s suc-
cessful advertising programs
AdWords and AdSense.
AOL pays $850 million to
acquire Bebo, with its more than
40 million users worldwide.
May News Corp. announces
that revenues for MySpace par-
ent company Fox Interactive
Media will fall $100 million short
of the $1 billion forecast by the
company for fiscal year 2007.
Comcast acquires Plaxo; terms
are not disclosed, but specula-
tion puts the purchase price
between $150 and $170 million.
Links Archive May June 2008 September October 2008 Navigation Previous Page Next Page