UK social networking advertising hits a bump.
In 2007, more than half of the UK’s Web users used social networking sites, according to an European Interactive Advertising Association-sponsored study conducted by SPA Research and Synovate.
Despite being popular with UK Internet users, social networks are getting a wide berth from some UK advertisers.
One of the most memorable Internet stories of 2007 centered on a number of high-profile British companies—including Vodafone, First
Direct, Halifax, Virgin Media, the Prudential and the Automobile Association—withdrawing advertising from Facebook, because their ads
were seen on pages with content promoting the far-right British National Party.
“I estimated that within a year [from January 2008], advertisers would begin to back away from social network advertising,” wrote Michael Masnick, CEO of TechDirt, on that blog. “Apparently, my estimate was wrong. Brands are already staying away.”
Mr. Masnick went on to say that it was unlikely that the situation would improve unless social networks created different forms of
advertising. “They need to recognize that simply throwing up [banner] ads doesn’t work anymore.”
“Companies are still trying to understand what social media means for them and how they can leverage it,” said Linus Gregoriadis, head of research for E-consultancy, in an interview with eMarketer.
“Advertising on social networks such as Facebook is extremely cheap,” said Mr. Gregoriadis, “which reflects the perceived value of display advertising on sites where users are typically not interested in looking at adverts.”
Karin von Abrams, senior analyst at eMarketer, noted that not all is doom and gloom for social network advertising.
"Many brands are likely to continue advertising on social
networks, especially in themed areas closely associated with their
brand equity and values," Ms. von Abrams said. "These environments are well suited to
timed-promotions of specific real-world events.
"Healthy skepticism about the pros and cons of social network sites
is not necessarily bad news for Internet marketing," she added. "Advertisers that
hesitate to risk major expenditure or brand reputations in social
networks can turn to other, proven online tactics or to developing
options—such as video advertising."
The eMarketer UK Social Networks report will be published next month. Click here to be notified when it is released.