Brace yourselves, folks: 2008 may go down in history as the year when social media advertising went from acceptable (if a bit leading-edge) to absolutely mainstream. According to indefatigable interactive marketing research firm eMarketer, advertising on social networks should shoot up a whopping 69 percent between 2007 and 2008, up to $1.6 billion from $920 million in 2007. These funds aren’t going only to omnibus sites like Facebook and MySpace, they’re also flowing into niche sites appealing to specific interests and communities, eMarketer says. When you consider that in 2006, the entire online advertising industry generated $16.9 billion, these are particularly impressive numbers.
You know, it’s a funny thing. Back in the day (say, 1997 to 2000), I used to shake my head and wonder why global brands weren’t “getting it” about the value of Web advertising. Sure, they included interactive marketing in their mix–well, many did–but they weren’t going whole-hog. (As I recall, Ad Week or a similar trade pub did some kind of survey in the late 90s on the subject–which concluded that less than 10 percent of global brand ad spending went to Net vehicles.) Now that Web advertising is a standard part of the mix, however, the big brands aren’t so timid. As this stampede illustrates, it’s obvious that they’re now willing to be opportunistic and pick new winners as they emerge.
As we all know, another game changer could easily pop up in coming years (a serious breakthrough in monetizing mobile advertising comes to mind) but unless it does, the status of social media as consumer ad platforms seems to be set.
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