Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MySpace to serve targeted ads

Read the article about it here.

This isn't a shock to me, since I work in internet advertising and marketing. It's interesting industry news, though, and it's indicative of the direction a lot of internet advertising is going. But it's also a little creepy.

Here's the not-creepy part... The myspace ad targeting will partly work the way Kontera works now. Kontera is context advertising -- it picks up on keywords and categories of interest inside articles and highlights those words. When the user rolls his or her mouse over the highlighted word, Kontera serves up a bubble that includes a related link (ad). The site using Kontera makes money when the user clicks on that link. Myspace ads will be similarly targeted, but they won't be contextual. It's like the way you select categories for Google Ad Sense if you want to put it on your blog. If I put it on my tv blog, for example, I might check the entertainment category to get entertainment ads served up, thinking my readers would be more likely to click on those ads since they're reading my tv blog. The new myspace targeted advertising is like a cross-breed of Ad Sense and Kontera - non-contextual ad blocks targeted to the keywords on your page. (For example, if you're interested in movies and film, you'd see ads for Netflix, Hollywood.com and the IFC.)

(By the way, the folks in the advertising biz think this is a great idea. Buyers and sellers of ads are jazzed about the idea of targeted ads. If you were Slimfast, you wouldn't want a McDonalds ad banner on your page, would you? That's why they're developing what advertisers describe as "eBay for internet advertising" - products like Google's DoubleClick and my company's product, TRAFFIQ, which will launch for general availability on November 5. Sorry, had to plug it.)

Okay, but now here's the creepier part. There's also a more personal element - the myspace ad targeting will also pick up on demographic information about each individual user. For example, read these two paragraphs from the article:

"The system also looks at the groups members belong to, who their friends are, their age and gender, and what ads they have responded to in the past. 'Our targeting is a balance of what users say, what they do and what they say they do,' said Adam Bain, executive vice president for production and technology at Fox Interactive..."

"MySpace also plans to give its advertisers information about what kind of people its ads have attracted. 'We want them to leave knowing more about their audience then when they came into the door,' Arnie Gullov-Singh, vice president in the advertising technology group at Fox Interactive."

This is the part you should pay attention to. A lot of people who use Facebook and Myspace don't think about what kind of information they're giving out. Not just to other users (see my post about Caroline Guiliani), but also to marketers, to the businesses who run properties like Myspace and Facebook -- and to the CIA? (See this article about Facebook).

Anyway, all this is to say that the more data you put out there, the more there is to gather from you, and I've never known a marketer who'd hesitate to gather it. It hasn't stopped me yet from posting my own personal info on Myspace and Facebook (not to mention this blog), but let this be a warning to us all. Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace now - don't expect that your private info will stay private, now that the King of Media has his hands on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please use targeted keyword in link text. :)