Social Network Advertising, Can It Work?

Last week I brought up the issue of the effectiveness of social ads. The debate rages on with Joshua Porter providing insight as to why social advertising will never be as effective as search advertising. I have to agree with Joshua that search can actively track intent and thus is more effective. Users browsing through their friends’ profiles are not actively looking for something and are instead passively hanging out on the site waiting to find something of interest.

I honestly don’t think that social advertising will ever generate more than search but if it can generate a fraction of what search generates it will still prove to be highly lucrative. I also believe that combined with search, social advertising can increase ad conversions. I have been saying for a while that the value of social networks are not the websites themselves but instead the information that the sites have on each user.

I always use the example of browsing through CNN.com and having an advertisement that is targeted at you based on your Facebook profile data. Another possible value would be the combination of Google and Facebook. Not only do you receive ads that are targeted at your geographic location and based on your intent but you also get advertisements that are based on other demographic information.

This is still theory though and there is no data to back up my assertions unfortunately. Joshua Porter definitely makes some great points on his post and concludes that nothing will monetize more effectively on than search on the web. Do you think social advertising can work?