A Marketer’s New Worry: Are My Ads Retweetable?

For some time, publishers of editorial content have included tags that let readers retweet, Digg or add stories they like to their Facebook page. In the near future, that same functionality is coming to ads.

Federated Media has announced a deal with TweetMeme that will let marketers attach a retweet button to their ads. Meanwhile, Digg, which has run Diggable ads on its homepage since August, is planning to export those ads to other Web properties in 2010, according to Chas Edwards, publisher and chief revenue officer at Digg. AdMob, the mobile ad network currently being acquired by Google, is in the process of adding hooks to video ads that would let users share an ad they like on Facebook or Twitter.

Whether consumers will be up for retweeting ads is an open question. Though the market is clearly heading in that direction, the content of such ads will need to be tweaked.  “You can imagine it would make sense,” said David Berkowitz, digital media and online marketing strategist for digital shop 360i. He added that he hadn’t seen anyone tag an ad with a retweet or Facebook button yet.

Kevin Skobac, media supervisor for Draftfcb, said that adding such functionality makes sense. “What we find is people expect nowadays to be able to action on content,” said Skobac. “If it’s a message that resonates, they want to be able to share it in their world.”

Nevertheless, Nick Halstead, CEO and founder of TweetMeme, said that advertisers are excited by the idea of having retweetable ads. But Halstead said that advertising in this format will need to provide consumers with some social currency. “Advertising in social media has to add value to the communication in some way,” he said. Halstead declined to say which advertisers planned to rollout retweetable ads.

The idea of viral advertising, of course, isn’t new, but until now, marketers have depended on consumers to e-mail or cut and paste URLs to spread an ad.

Adding retweet, Digg and Facebook buttons would, in theory, make it easier for consumers to pass along ads they like, leading to more overall impressions.

That was the thinking behind Digg’s Diggable ad program, which launched in beta in August. For the first time on the site, users were allowed to Digg ads they liked and bury ones they didn’t. (A bury means that a consumer won’t see the ad again, though others will.) Edwards said that Digg uses an auction-based system to sell the ads, which are sold on a cost-per-click basis. So far, Microsoft, Symantec, Toyota, Intel, Best Buy and Paramount Pictures, among others, have launched Diggable ads. While the standard banner ad gets about a 0.1 percent click-through rate, Edwards said Diggable ads average 1 percent, and in the case of Intel and Toyota, it’s jumped to between 2.5 percent and 3 percent.

On the other hand, Digg users have more power over ads they don’t like. This month, for instance, users revolted against an ad for Electronic Arts’ videogame, Dragon Age Origins. After a user put up an item with the headline “Who on Digg Hates This?” with a picture of the ad, about 10,000 users Dugg it. Edwards said those users were complaining in particular about a skin of a page that narrowed the text. “The feedback was in many ways fair, and we learned from it,” he said. Digg also takes into account ads that have a high ratio of buries to Diggs.

Until now, Diggable ads have only appeared on Digg’s homepage, but Edwards said that in 2010, Digg plans to roll out ads with Digg buttons, which will run on other sites as well. One idea is to run the ads when a story on another site (Time.com, for instance) gets a lot of Diggs. Edwards said that may be a way to more efficiently monetize stories that get Dugg, since a Digg can bring in up to 200,000 views in a short time.