PaidContent Embraces Social Networking at Media Conference

Apr 27, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Social media is poised to be the next big opportunity for television networks as they extend their brands and video further online.

That was one of the themes of PaidContent’s social media conference in Los Angeles today that drew Web companies such as MySpace, Heavy.com and Next New Networks, but also TV executives from Scripps Networks, NBC, Discovery, CBS and Turner.

Broadcast and cable networks are increasingly experimenting with social networking tools because social media is one more component that can lure a viewer to a Web site and keep that viewer there longer, said Kevin Cohen, senior VP of strategic planning at Turner, who attended the conference.

Media executives are also betting on the ad potential from social media. A recent report from Accenture, which surveyed senior executives in the media and entertainment industry, found that 62 percent of media executives said they expect to make money through ads and sponsorships of social media in the next three years.

Some forward-thinking advertisers are already reaping the benefits of social networks. A MySpace study reported earlier this week that youth-centric brands such as Adidas and Electronic Arts claim that more than 70 percent of their marketing ROI on social network campaigns is due to the “pass-along” effect of a brand within a social network.

But few advertisers are sold on social networks using CPM or ad networks. “It’s very difficult to sell on a CPM,” said Michael Birch, CEO of social network Bebo.com. He pointed to a campaign that Bebo ran with Skittles, letting users place Skittles-branded Web “skins” on their pages. “We don’t force it on anybody. People opt into it and every day we get around 300,000 views of the Skittles skin on people’s profile, so they are promoting Skittles to their friends, but they are opting in. You have to go out and pitch this to an agency,” he said.

TV networks should figure out how to use social media because it lets them have a 1:1 conversation with a consumer, said Channing Dawson, a senior advisor to Scripps Networks who attended the conference. For instance, DIY Network will debut its “Blog Cabin” series this summer that lets viewers vote online on the cabin’s specs and floor plan. Scripps has integrated advertisers, such as Anderson Windows, and their products into the show and the house.

“Then you will watch it and tell people to watch. Social media is an engagement media. All networks are looking at how to do this,” Mr. Dawson said.

(Editor: Fees)