Peter Kafka

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Demand Media Adds a Dash of Social to Its Ads, With Help From Facebook and Twitter

Web publishers and marketers are constantly trying to find new ways to get surfers to check out their ads. Here’s Demand Media’s latest attempt: Turn ads into portals for Facebook, Twitter and other social nets.

The concept here is pretty basic. Demand’s “Social Feed” ads incorporate a, um, “social feed” pop-out. It shows surfers a stream of commentary from and about a brand, via services like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

The contents of the stream will appear the way they show up on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But Demand hosts and curates the stream, so advertisers don’t have to worry about torrents of spam showing up, or debacles like McDonald’s ill-fated Twitter campaign.

You can see some examples here, or check out a mock-up below:

And that’s it. Pretty simple idea, though Demand says it’s fairly complicated to build, which is why it bought rich-media ad shop IndieClick last summer. Sales boss Joanne Bradford says Demand won’t charge any more for the ads, for now, than it already does for its conventional ads that feature video, sound, etc.

Most interesting to me is the big picture: Demand, which does (sort of) traditional Web publishing, attempts to cash in on the appeal of social media, without having to have its own social media service. Meanwhile Facebook, Twitter, etc., shouldn’t have a problem with it, since the ads also function as ads for Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Still, since Demand is piggybacking on other services to sell its own ads, there can always be complications.

Earlier this month, for instance, Demand showed me a slightly different version of the concept, which served up commentary directly from Facebook, using the company’s public API. But something about that didn’t please Mark Zuckerberg and company, so Demand is doing it this way instead.

Bradford says that Facebook and every other service it is tapping into have signed off on the new format, which uses publicly available data. But social services also have the right to change their minds about the way outsiders use their content. Given that Facebook is getting ready to roll out some tweaks to its own ad platform, those changes could show up as early as tomorrow.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work