MPA Digital Day Panel: Advertisers Still ‘Nervous’ About Social Networks
The publishing industry has certainly jumped on the user-generated content craze, launching blogs and community forums, as well as partnering with or launching their own versions of social networking sites like MySpace and FaceBook. Nonetheless, advertisers are still wary about placing advertisements on or sponsoring content in what’s viewed as the Internet version of the wild, wild West, said panelists speaking at the Magazine Publishers of America’s Digital Day Tuesday in New York.
The top 20 social networking sites now account for 1 in 15 Internet visits, said LeeAnn Prescott, research director for Internet research firm Hitwise. “Visits to the top 100 blog sites have grown 53 percent in the past year and visits to the top 20 social networking sites are up 67 percent,” she said.
But advertisers are worried about placing their products and services next to the seemingly unregulated world of user-generated content, which could feature inappropriate language or, worse, disparaging remarks about the advertisers themselves, publishers said. “Prevention.com is the top health destination online so we have a huge audience to tap into for user-generated content,” said Nicola Bridges, online editorial director for Prevention.com. “And that brand is important to advertisers. But some are nervous about being next to very organic, very free-flowing, user-generated content. For example, a pharmaceutical company doesn’t want to be near user-generated content that talks about homeopathic medicine.”
John Davidson, senior vice president and editorial director for the 1UP Network, an online destination for Ziff Davis’ gaming magazines, said his biggest challenge was getting marketers to stop viewing user-generated content as “second class” content. Game manufacturers “don’t want to be near a conversation about how much their game sucks,” he said. “But what they don’t get is that it’s about targeting. It’s about getting your name out there and advertising in communities where people are talking about your competitors’ games.”
Davidson said advertisers are also concerned about the level of engagement their ads receive when alongside user-generated content. “How do you measure it?” he said. “Is it views, clicks, hits? And it’s also a challenge for us to convince advertisers that all of this user-generated stuff is not going away.”