There's been much attention paid recently to whether or not social networking and community-based sites will embrace advertising. It's a touchy subject for publishers in this realm, and understandably so. Much of the controversy revolves around concerns that consumers won't tolerate marketing messages in this environment, since they often feel a very personal connection and a certain level of ownership over the contents of these sites. Publishers worry about turning their visitors off and sending massive amounts of their traffic to competitors.
To me, the answer is clear. All media, throughout history, has been supported by advertising -- and in general consumers are accustomed to this reality. In fact, when advertisements and offers are presented in a meaningful and relevant way, consumers welcome them and seek out relationships with their preferred brands. This concept is even more important in situations where the users are highly engaged and have strong attachments to the medium. So, when looking at the current landscape, you should not ask yourself "will" social networking sites embrace ads - the better question is "how" can they go about integrating advertising messages and offers in ways that truly add to the user's experience.
Social media needsadvertising. People don't usually pay to be on social networking sites -- but, they also don't want ads infringing on their online space either. So it's imperative that social networking publishers find a way to cater to their users and offer them well-placed, valuable offers that show an understanding of each person's specific interests and needs. For example an 18-year-old woman likely has no use for a flashy banner ad for "interest-only mortgages" at the top of her MySpace profile, but would be much more inclined to show interest in a special offer from Old Navy, Blockbuster or Dove that better suits her lifestyle and state of mind.
Users are continually interacting with multiple pages of these sites: sending messages, updating profiles, logging-in, and uploading pictures. Why not leverage this action-oriented behavior and look at direct-response solutions? Many premium publishers are finding this is a great way to build large incremental revenue, while keeping users on their sites, and still providing a quality, relevant experience for everyone.
It's not surprising that social networking sites often feel caught in the middle -- trying to drive site traffic and revenue while maintaining a positive, seamless user experience. Social networking is all about building and maintaining higher level relationships chosen by the user. Why not offer them the opportunity to start building relationships with their favorite brands they know, trust, and want to hear from?
Challenges including where to find these valuable offers, how to ensure they are targeted to the right customers, and how to seamlessly message and integrate them into places that make sense are common for publishers.
The answer: work with a reputable online offer provider that can help you bring aboard great brands and who has the technology platform and flexibility to handle the bulk of the technical and integration on their end at no cost to you.
Here's how it works:
But remember, when choosing your offer partner: ensure that you are always acting in the best interests of your users. Be sure the provider follows online lead generation advertising best practices, adheres to a strict and explicit opt-in policy and never shares data with any third parties.