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CBS Socializes Banners

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NEW YORK Advertisers looking to get social with consumers now have options other than Facebook and MySpace -- including the Tiffany Network.

CBS wants to tap into the current vogue for social media by offering campaigns that incorporate conversational features. One unit in development, for instance, invites users to Tweet out answers to questions posed by advertisers.

CBS' latest foray in the social space is a campaign via Wieden + Kennedy on behalf of Electronic Arts. The push for the latest release of the Madden videogame series targets both CBSSports.com and Gamespot audiences with a unit that invites fans to vote for which group is better at Madden: sports fans or gamers. Users vote from within the ad unit and then broadcast their preferences as updates on Facebook, Twitter or MySpace, thanks to Socialize technology from Gigya that integrates various personal feeds.

Such moves are indicative of how social advertising is evolving from the province of social networks to a wider array of sites. Instead of running ads in dicey environments, advertisers can export the functionality of social nets to more predictable venues. Marketers like Intuit and Volvo, for example, have run banner campaigns that utilize Twitter. And as part of its campaign to promote the new season of Entourage, HBO employed Facebook Connect from within a banner, allowing users to share videos, become fans of the program and RSVP to the premiere without actually visiting Facebook.

"They realize that our users are valuable and their opinions matter," said Julie Davenport, vp of integrated media solutions at CBS Interactive. They want to allow them to talk about what they're thinking about the product."

CBS Interactive has made other forays into social marketing. Last year, it developed a unit called "Shout Out" that invites users to answer questions from within banner ads. The answers are then scrolled inside the banners. Intel, Gillette and Unilever have employed that offering. And AT&T is currently running a campaign with CBS property Last.fm, asking consumers to name their favorite workout songs.

Now, CBS hopes to connect with the established social network infrastructure. It is testing a new version of Shout Out called Tweet Scan. This unit pulls in Twitter updates about brands and uses sentiment analysis to display positive messages.

The Madden campaign includes a microsite on Gamespot built around the "who is the better player" theme with a vote tally and comments. The campaign kicked off today and runs through the end of the month.