Advertising in social networking

Because I work in social networking, people often ask me about advertising in social networks. For some reason, they don’t buy the obvious excuse that I’m an engineer, not a business person or entrepreneur. What do I know?

[The problem of advertising in social networking]

I do have opinions though and for the last two years I’ve been saying that advertising will never make as much money in social networking as in search. It’s obvious—but I guess others don’t have the benefit of thinking for the last four years about this problem.

Qualia and Intentionality

Two “apply-anywhere” arguments in the Mind-Body Problem are qualia and intentionality.

Qualia is that there is a “innateness” to experiences like seeing blue, or smelling banana, or feeling pain, or being in love. And that innateness extends beyond the physicality of it: 475 nm of electromagnetic radiation, CH3COOC5H11, the firing patterns of neurons, and sex.

Intentionality, while not as poetic, is much easier to understand. It basically states there is a meaning that extends beyond the physical action: subject-verb-object. Heck our legal system presupposes it—differing penalties for manslaughter and murder. A bucket of water can’t have a mind because its atoms actions lack meaning, I’m told.

The philosophy of a series of tubes

In college, I had to read papers written by philosophers who couldn’t pass the freshman engineering physics class I taught in order to satisfy my graduation requirement.

If I sufferred it, I’m going to figure out some way to inflictapply it.

When you think about it, social networking ads are like qualia and search advertising is like intentionality.

When people do search, they have an intention which is self-evident in the search terms they use. And just like intentionality is the easier argument to understand, it is easy to map the intention of information into an intention to buy or visit a commercial site. The ads will have both a higher click-through and a higher likelihood from there to generate a sale.

But when you do social networking, you are talking about qualia. At best, if you’re really lucky, you know facts about that person that are true: asian, 30’s, single, 666 friends, takes pictures. (And how much does that translate to the qualia of my twinkieness and shy insecurities?)

Unless you’re running a dating site or filling out a college application, it’s hard to get the relevance of that. And even if you know this, if someone types “sex toys” in Google, you’ll get a lot further to selling them something. In fact, the social networking data has far more value to a Google—which might use it to know you are a real person and not a bot—than it would be to the social network. (Wait, he just sent a message to a white girl mentioning Geddy Watanabe, up his twinkiness rating by .0001!)

If you did figure them out and deliver the right ad, what’s to say they want to stop playing that social game or sending that message and visit your site—Vagisoft pockets or no Vagisoft pockets? The most you’re likely to do is convey some qualia onto them with your ad.

But qualia doesn’t always translate into intentionality. We’re away from less “click”=>“buy” and more to the traditional advertising concepts of “branding” and the like that we see from traditional print, radio, and television.

It’s all very hard, which probably explains why I didn’t buy the qualia argument in my Philosophy of the Mind humanities requirement and some dickweed got the A+.

Parting shot

IM from a friend:

Here’s why social media ads suck: Facebook keeps showing me ads for gay cruises and bbw women. WTF? Can’t they figure out that I’m straight and shallow from my profile?

After 30 or so ads for vagisoft pockets…I agree, someone needs to work on their algorithm.

3 thoughts on “Advertising in social networking

  1. Really, it depends on the type of social media advertising. Banner ads on social media sites aren’t going to have much of an effect. However, using members of social media, i.e. bloggers, that have respect and a following to review a product in the blogger’s area of expertise (say a new Nikon) and that would have the chance for a significant effect.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.