Social Media sites have been on Search Marketers’ radar for quite some time now. Initially, they were seen as an opportunity to increase visibility, reinforce branding, acquire links, etc. Now, with Facebook leading the way, they’re evolving to include targeted ads that are based on the interests of their users, as expressed through individual profiles and networks.
In a nutshell, Facebook is looking to capitalize on the fact that they have naturally collected a wealth of information about what their users are interested in. Each time a user blogs about something or joins a new group, they’re providing Facebook with another bit of information that will allow the site to place more targeted ads in front of them. So far Facebook has declined to comment on whether they’re developing this ad system internally or utilizing an existing platform.
Currently, Facebook shows banner ads along the side bar of its profile pages. Advertisers pay top dollar for this placement because it’s viewed by such a large audience (there are currently about 37 million registered users). However, nothing in the current system allows these ads to be targeted. Advertisers are simply throwing their ads up in front of Facebook users on the principle that if you cast a large enough net, you’re bound to catch some fish. But all of that’s about to change.
By utilizing the information users voluntarily post about themselves and their interests, Facebook is looking to take advertising in the social media realm to the next level, much like Google has done with Gmail.