Branded Personal Pages A Draw For 43% Of Consumers

Social networking sites like MySpace are the ideal platform for marketers to facilitate word-of-mouth campaigns, according to a new study released by Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions and research firm MetrixLab.

Social networkers--always after brands to help better define themselves--take their cues from information they find on friends' personal pages and blogs. In turn, 64% of consumers will visit other sites to find out more about what they have read on a friend's site, the study finds.

In addition, while some analysts have predicted the end of branded personal pages, 43% of consumers have visited the personal space of a brand.

"The notion of creating a MySpace ad profile page and collecting friends was popular in 2006 but will likely give way this year, as users tire of collecting 'friends,'" eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson told OnlineMediaDaily last week.

A recent report by In-Stat found that social networks need to begin proving their worth through substantial revenue generation if they want to survive. "In order for a social networking site to be successful, it must attain a critical mass, and competition is fierce to attract new members," In-Stat analyst Jill Meyers told OnlineMediaDaily.

A study released earlier this week by MySpace and Carat USA's Isobar found that ad campaigns executed within social networks do deliver value for marketers.

The "Never-Ending Friending" study identified a metric Marketing Evolution dubs the "Momentum Effect," which attempts to quantify the impact of a brand within a social network beyond traditional ad impressions to encompass the viral power of digital word of mouth.

Social networks have spurred a major shift in the way people interact with each other and with media, with more than 70% of Americans ages 15 to 34 actively participating in online social networks, the MySpace/Isobar study found.

Ad spending on social networks this year is expected to total $865 million, according to eMarketer. MySpace is promised the bulk of that spend to the tune of $525, while its rivals--Facebook, Bebo, Friendster--are being left to fight over about $200 million.

An additional $95 million in ad dollars is expected to go to social networking offerings from the portals like MSN Spaces and Yahoo 360, while eMarketer predicts about $45 million will be set aside for vertical social networks and marketer-sponsored networks.

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