Social media advertising spend should hit $1.8 billion in 2009 according to eMarketer. (Sure, that’s a small percentage of overall Web advertising, which stood at about $20 billion last year, but give it time.)
So it’s no surprise that yesterday, a group of ad agencies and their social media buddies announced that they’d form a trade group focused on defining metrics for measuring social media advertising. (Heck, it was probably overdue.)
The group, the Social Media Ad Council, is backed by Tom Gerace, CEO of social network Gather, and includes reps from Edelman, Universal McCann, e-publishing firm Zinio, Quantcast and a grab bag of i-marketing organizations. The group hopes to find ways to measure “engagement,” the term some use to describe what they’re buying when they place ads on a social networking site.
How does a bundle of x number of Tweets compare with ten PPC ads on Facebook or countless impressions through Friend Feed? No one has figured that out yet. But it’s critical that someone does. After all, you can’t build an advertising market unless you have some basic units of measurement in place.
Other than Gather, none of the other founders are social media sites. In announcing the group, Gerace noted that he’d invited Facebook and MySpace to participate, but it seems that haven’t gotten involved as of yet.
The fact that they aren’t taking part makes you wonder whether they prefer social media ad buying to remain a bit mysterious. After all, the more the buyers know, the more they can squeeze ad sellers. Maybe that’s what they have in mind? — Anne
P.S. SMAC member UniversalMcCann, not surprisingly, has some thoughts of its own to offer on social media. Its new report on influence in social media, “When Did We Start Trusting Strangers?” is definitely worth a look. Or if you just want a summary check out the review in Marketing Pilgrim.
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