In April, Nielsen predicted social network advertising revenues would hit an estimated $1.825 billion. Last week, eMarketer released a new study saying advertising on social networks will drop three percent in 2009 to $1.1 billion. Whether social media advertising will grow or shrink in 2009 remains a question.
A lot has changed in social media advertising in the past two years -- and not just revenue predictions. There are new players, new technologies, and new places and ways to advertise.
Social media advertising hasn't followed the norm of existing online advertising, either. You've got applications, engagement ads, and widgets. Needless to say, social media advertising hasn't made things easier for the media planner to figure out. Recognizing the particular pain the new online ad format created for media sellers, planners, buyers, and advertisers alike, a few entities have attempted to tackle the challenge.
The IAB's Take on Social Media Advertising
In May 2009, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released its Social Advertising Best Practices and Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions. The IAB's definition of a social ad is "an online ad that incorporates user interactions that the consumer has agreed to display and be shared. The resulting ad displays these interactions along with the user's persona (picture and/or name) within the ad content."
Its guidelines go on to discuss five key factors: data used for social ads, ingredients of a social ad, context for delivering a social ad, consumer control, and privacy guidelines. Examples of social ads include Facebook's Engagement Ad, MySpace's Interaction Ad, Buddy Media's Application Ad, Brickfish's Social Media Ad, and Socialmedia.com's Word of Mouth Ad.
For metrics, the IAB breaks the social media space into three sectors:
By these three categories, the IAB further breaks down measurement criteria. Some interesting newcomers to the world of online media measurement include:
The New Kid on the Block
Conceived last fall and incorporated in March, the new Social Media Advertising Consortium (SMAC) grew out of needs identified by those in social media advertising industry: providers, publishers, and agencies. They came together and created a governing body to help bring clarity to their industry. SMAC's focus is on three primary areas, which will sound similar to the IAB's:
SMAC hopes by doing so, the resulting standards will allow the social media industry to scale, innovate, and evolve responsibly and effectively.
To tackle these primary objectives, the consortium has created three corresponding work groups:
Whether these social media advertising standards already exist (IAB) or get redefined (SMAC), with this nascent industry in constant flux, undoubtedly these organizations have their work cut out for them.
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A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."
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