From Facebook to Twitter, everyone is scrambling to find a reliable way to monetize social media. Whatâ€™s crazy is that the conventional online advertising models weâ€™re trying to apply to social media donâ€™t even work that well for the conventional web.
Conventional online ad models are hangovers from the offline world, and the only reason that marketers have been getting away with them for so long is that we have â€œanalyticsâ€ on them that are impossible offline â€“ impressions, click-through-rates, how long users were viewing the page that theyâ€™re on.
But letâ€™s face it, even the incremental improvements on these ad models are still largely band-aid solutions. Having analytics coaxed us into thinking up CPM ads, banner blindess begot CPC, and invalid clicks yielded CPA. At the end of the day, though, weâ€™re all still hung up on a two-dimensional media placements.
In a virtual space, maybe we should start thinking of the third-dimension in a different way. Instead of thinking of it in terms of depth and volume, maybe we should be thinking of it in terms of interaction and engagement.
The fact of the matter is that as we network, share, and surf online, we leave an excessive data trail. Whether we block cookies or not, Facebook, Twitter, and Google know a lot more about us than weâ€™d probably be comfortable with if we considered it. But at the same time, few of us are willing to trade in the convenience of these services in exchange for our privacy.
If we willingly sacrifice our privacy for leisure and entertainment, then why not do it for our personal gain? Basically, our data trail can be used to show us ads we want to see. Not ads that advertisers want us to see, but ads that we want to see.
In other words, weâ€™ll target the advertisers instead of them targeting us. How cool would that be? Instead of ignoring irrelevant ads that disrupt our experience as users and community members, weâ€™ll actually stop to see what they have to offer because, whatever it is, it probably relates to our interests.
Letâ€™s face it, the fact that weâ€™re not wiling to give-up these services in exchange for our privacy is a pretty clear indicator that we enjoy them and donâ€™t want them to go away. But at the same time, it costs a tremendous amount of money to run operations like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and if we donâ€™t want to have to pay subscription fees, then we have to let them do what they can to monetize.
Wouldnâ€™t it make more sense, then, to collaborate in that monetization process and see ads that are actually relevant to you then to just beâ€targetedâ€ by advertisers whoâ€™ve decided that someone in your â€œdemographicâ€ is a potential customer for them? After all, if you think about it, Gmail is already doing it.