Why Social Media Advertising is in a Pickle

Adweek has a great, indepth story the explains the experimentation around trying to figure out advertising on social networks. There’s lot of good work going on, with advertisers trying to figure out how to come up with metrics that show how advertising is performing on the social networks.

But what it makes you realize is how much of a bind these sites are in in terms of advertising.

What’s ironic is that whenever the Internet becomes social, with email or chat or now social networks, it becomes so much less measurable.

Basically, what we’re seeing at social networks is either a push by advertisers to go back to traditional metrics, like awareness and lift or a push to create new metrics that measure, get ready to gag, engagement. But really despite the fact that that’s such an overused word, they are working to figure out how much time and interaction and involvement people are spending with their brands.

Now, going to awareness and lift has problems, because, as Ian Schafer from Deep Focus points out so well in the article, advertisers need to be more patient than they would with other media because they have to wait for communities to grow and people to get engaged.

Engagement on the other hand seems like something destined to frustrate advertisers. Schafer explains how they are gauging it by involvement in T-shirt giveaways and design contests. That’s very creative. But how do you standardize that kind of measurement overtime so that advertisers know what they’re getting? And then what’s the cost and time commitment companies will need to put into ad campaigns to figure out their impact? For the moment, it looks like the social networks are doomed to lower CPMs or sponsorship pricing.

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