The old adage goes, if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. This has long been true of our data. Consumers pay for “free” services like search engines and social networks by letting companies collect and package their data so that marketers can target them more effectively.
Nowhere is this more visible than the increasing trend of bringing social context into the ads themselves — pairing an individual’s social actions with social ads shown to their friends. Facebook first led this move with Sponsored Stories, and has since baked social context into many of their ads. Google announced Shared Endorsements last year, where +1’s, reviews, and other social activities are integrated with ads.
There’s value to an advertiser in an implied endorsement. Social context helps make an ad more relevant. If we think that friends we know recommend a certain brand, we will be more likely to buy it.
The future of advertising will likely include a greater level of social context. Yet today it feels like social context is sometimes taken out of context.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on where social ads are headed.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)