Several posts about new advertisement initiatives today. Saw a post here discussing the announcement of MySpace that they will start using user profiles to customise the adds you get to see. And Google is now turning widgets into adsense, leveraging the media plan as the message as John Battelle says it. Looking at the discussions at Boing Boing here people seem to be skeptical about the MySpace move.
The main problem with user profiles being matched to advertisement is twofold:
- Is the user profile representing the user in an accurate way. How many people do you know that fill out their profile with rubbish? Garbage in is garbage out.
- Although the initial idea might sound good, I cannot help but wonder if “past” events predict “future” needs accurate enough. To clarify this, an example. Lets say I happen to be a sports fan according to my profile on MySpace. Based upon that I might get to see advertisements from Nike, Adidas etc. But if I have already bought running shoes last week, these adds really don’t match my current needs right? I was in the mood to select a vacation, but hey, that wasn’t in my profile. There is probably a trade off here between branding and advertisement.
Is there an advertisement model possible that might actually benefit the user, instead of the social network or the advertiser? User profile matching or widgets turning into adds might be a start. But there is a thin line there. If the matching is not done accurately according to the user, he will be annoyed. Amazon has used different techniques to the aid of the book searcher. I find The “people who bought this book also bought…”functionality useful and fun. But mainly because I am searching for a book, in other words it has purpose when I choose to buy a new book. If the purpose isn’t there, the functionality isn’t useful to me.
Maybe we should give the user control over the adds. He is already putting great effort in creating and updating his profile on every social network he is in. Why not provide him with options to decide what type of advertisements he is in the mood for now? Or make it searchable (I want to see advertisements on ‘summer vacations” now)? Or suggest recommendations to him? Or allow him to get rid of advertisements all together (perhaps at a cost?). the network owner, e.g. MySpace wouldn’t like that. But, look at the upside. If a user willingly provide advertisers with directions, that would make them more valuable to the user and the advertiser right? In the end it should be about the value for the user, not the social network or advertiser. Any takes on this? What do you think about this, is there a way to make advertisements more interesting to the users?