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Jun 4, 2008

NEWS: Social media's uphill advertising climb

Social media's uphill advertising climb

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Reality check: half of the social media start-ups at Tuesday's Under the Radar Conference won't exist next year.

That was the dour prediction of an advertising executive after a day of start-up presentations from a tongue-twisting list of tech companies--including Verismo, Mytopia, Loud3R, Jacked, Sometrics and PutPlace...

Like with Web 1.0 companies, one of the biggest problems social media companies have in the market is that they're technology driven, the executives said. Tech companies often fail to hire media-savvy executives at the top who can sell brand advertising.

Another Web 1.0-like problem: many social media start-ups are marketing the idea that they have tons of data on people's demographics and preferences. The start-ups believe that that data will lure brand managers seeking to reach new customers. Not true, executives said.

"I can't imagine a large agency giving a rat about a small firm's data. Advertisers are looking for aggregation of data...and someone at a very high level to give an overview (of what it means)," said Bedecarre.

One member of the audience, an executive from news site Topix, asked the panelists when a major advertiser would announce plans to spend $20 million sponsoring AOL or Facebook. Bedecarre answered that that kind of deal doesn't translate on Facebook because brands are too used to ads that broadcast to, instead of engage, audiences. They're still not willing to spend many millions of dollars on major Web sites, he said.

"It hasn't happened yet because big advertisers and agencies haven't let go of advertisements. They like to buy lots of ads," he said, referring to commercials.

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