Is social targeting the future?

I had an interesting meeting with a company called Tamtam Media this week who are the UK agents for Media6degrees, an ad serving company in the US who are pioneers in a new media targeting concept called social targeting.  I’m curious to see how this develops over the next 12 months or so as I imagine this will be the next big thing in digital media targeting.

Let me try to explain why.

For decades, demographic, psychographic, contextual and behavioural targeting have been the primary tools used by marketers and media buyers to reach specific audiences. But now there’s a new kid on the block called sociographics. By that I mean targeting criteria based on connections via social media sites.

What Media6 have done is build a sophisticated social graph which effectively maps the social connections of millions of people across a multitude of different social media sites, including flickr, facebook, bebo, myspace and any number of influential blogs.  Don’t ask me how they do it, let alone without contravening privacy issues – they just do!  All I know is that it involves placing 20 billion pixels across the web and tracking browser IDs. What this means though is that they can then serve banner ads via their ad network to anyone who may be socially associated or connected to one of your brand loyalists.

An example of how it works

So let’s say someone visits your website and orders a brochure or buys a product online.  Using pixels placed on your website and across the social web, Media6 can track the online behaviour of one of your brand loyalists to build up a picture of their social connections.  They also measure things like frequency and reciprocity to identify only the strongest connections.

Now the clever bit. If one of those close connections then visits one of the many media publishing sites within Media6’s ad servicing network – which includes the likes of MSN, Yahoo, Times Online, Facebook or Myspace – they bid for it and serve them one of your ads.  Not only that but if that person subsequently clicks on your banner to visit your website the cycle continues.

Clever stuff indeedy.

Why is this better than traditional targeting methods?

The reason this is such a powerful form of targeting is because it’s based on the simple premise that the people you know and regularly interact with are more likely to demonstrate similar brand affinities than those who simply share the same demographic or psychographic profile.  And according to Media6, the results appear to validate this theory, out-performing other traditional ad targeting methods by some considerable margin.

It’s a tricky one to get your head around I know, especially as I’m no media planner and probably haven’t explained it that well at all! But if I’ve whet your appetite, this interview with the CEO of Media6degrees might do it more justice!

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more about “Sociolgraphics and social targeting“, posted with vodpod

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