How Can Advertising Work on the Social Web?

We’ve already seen the drastic impact of social networks on our content publishing and revenue generation models. Do you think it’s going to stop there?

Who said that the advertising models of print and yesteryear would be sustainable online? Everyone just hoped they’d translate, because porting old models onto new platforms didn’t require much innovation or effort. I’d argue that any publisher that has their eggs completely in the ad banner basket is missing the boat and is in for a Titanic-sized rude awakening.

The good news is that I’ve seen inklings of integrated campaigns online from some forward-thinking advertisers who are realizing that the old advertising methods don’t work so well online and that ad banner fatigue hit consumers in about, oh, 1999. Kudos to the companies who may not yet be getting it right, but are fighting the good fight to bust out of the old models and create some new ones.

So what are the new options for advertisers to reach potential customers? I don’t have a magic bullet for you, sorry, but I do have some wild and wacky ideas about advertising (hate it) versus social communications (love it).

  • integration — think of how you can integrate your brand appropriate into conversations. Hint: Strategic social media marketing.
  • placement — find interesting ways to place your brand into someone’s information stream. Hint: Virtual goods and gifts.
  • overlay — develop ways to put your content into new places and spaces. Hint: Augmented reality.
  • cross-platform — don’t just think Mac/PC or Firefox/Safari/Chrome. Hint: Hybrid online/offline.

I’ll leave you with these final thoughts and then let you ruminate — or argue with me, if you like. Most people do not want to consume ads. Many just barely tolerate them. A growing number of people completely reject them. If you look at the trends in communications over the last two decades, the patterns are clear. Learn from our past mistakes. Don’t be afraid to be different. Just make sure you have a strategy, some patience, and a flexible plan.

And please…don’t be an ostrich.

What is the future of advertising on the social web?

Photos by stock.xcnhg users flaivoloka and josecarli respectively

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise

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