FTR-TheNewMadAve/Drive-ThruSelf service media gets silly

Remember when they said MySpace had no way to make money? Hah. Its latest is a self-serve ad platform that could do for mom-and-pops - and MySpace itself - what search ads did for Google. And all as easy as dropping a coin in an automat. Or so the chorus goes.

MyAds, released Oct. 13, has all the features that made search advertising such a cash cow: a straightforward interface that anyone can use, credit card payment with a $25 minimum, a simple analytics dashboard and a pay-per-click model. Then, it adds a couple twists: Instead of text, these are display ads in standard IAB sizes - and advertisers can take advantage of MySpace HyperTargeting, formerly available only to the big guys.

HyperTargeting lets marketers choose specific user groups that have been aggregated based on their profiles and stated interests, and based on age, sex and geographical location. They can also narrow down a category by adding keyword targeting.

"We're putting the small and medium businesses in the same position as the big brands that have a creative and buying agency working on their behalf. We're moving display advertising from the fat belly to the long tail," says Jeff Berman, MySpace president of sales and marketing.

If you think MySpace is all about kids and bands, you'd be wrong. So were the MySpace folks who developed MyAds. Early beta ads included a roofing company that cleverly targeted its ads to Chicago zip codes that had weathered a windstorm, and Bacon Salt, which was able to find an audience that liked bacon.

In fact, says Berman, with more than 76 million active users, at least half of whom have opted into HyperTargeting, you can find the right audience for almost anything.

Low-budget, self-service ad platforms may be on the way to their heyday, what with the lousy economy. Also in October, blog ad network Federated Media opened its self-service ad network to all advertisers, and Technorati added self-serve ads. In September, Yahoo came out with APT, a display advertising exchange for publishers, ad networks, advertisers and agencies, based on technology it gained with its purchase of RightMedia. While APT now handles inventory on Yahoo and its Newspaper Consortium partners, Yahoo plans to open it to all in 2009. APT won't immediately let Dad's Pizzeria spend twenty-five bucks on ads in two zip codes, but it could be a boon for agencies looking for a speedy way to buy targeted inventory.

So, do you want fries with that?

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