After some disappointing metrics coming out of the contextual ads it places on MySpace, Google has begun to look at other ways it can serve ads in online social communities.
This could essentially involve a more granular look at not only what content is on the page but also the dynamics of the social graph itself. People’s influence on one another for example, could be added to the equation to determine ad placements that have the greatest likelihood of engagement.
This influence could be measured and assigned to individuals in the same way that it’s currently applied to Web pages and publishers. People, in other words, become the units of ad networks — or the basis for a page rank — rather than sites. An interesting concept.
Those with lots of friends and frequent interaction on social networks under this setup, would be the most valuable targets. If Google develops this concept, its Open Social initiative meanwhile makes it more feasible to track and monetize these factors across a number of sites.
This reminds us of what BuzzLogic is doing throughout the blogosphere — influential bloggers on certain topics are identified for brand advertisers in those areas. We could see this concept develop further and manifest in other ways and venues, including local.
In a social environment like Yelp, it could have implications for local advertising, where the most influential discussions are happening around neighborhoods and cities. Topix and others are also positioned around the UGC that could be the basis for this new form of “influence tracking” in local.
Through this, national advertisers and agencies could begin to see opportunities to support their local branches (which they don’t do very well in large part) by placing ads where and when the conversations are happening that have the most influence on local buying behavior.
It could take a while for something like this to materialize though — and just as long for Madison Avenue to catch on.