Google Preparing FriendRank Technology?

A new Google patent was approved last week which sounds eerily similar to my April fools joke earlier this year. The new patent is for, “A computer-implemented method for displaying advertisements to members of a network comprises identifying one or more communities of members, identifying one or more influencers in the one or more communities, and placing one or more advertisements at the profiles of one or more members in the identified one or more communities.”

It’s the exact type of technology that Jeremy Zawodny previously described as well as a number of other industry thought leaders. The new technology will be able to “identify the influencers from among the members of a community. This may provide advertisers with the option of targeting either all members in the community or advertising only on the profile of the influencer, thereby targeting the entire community.”

So how is Google going to leverage their new “FriendRank” (a name already trademarked by social ad network, SocialMedia) patented technology? Technically, the only social network they own is Orkut which is popular in countries that don’t have as large of advertising budgets as the U.S. Google also has an agreement to monetize MySpace as well so perhaps this new technology will be used to help monetize the under-performing inventory on the largest U.S. social network.

The new technology is clearly reminiscent of the personal CPM that I’ve previously discussed on both this site and AllFacebook. As the patent describes, “An influencer may receive financial incentives from advertisers in exchange for permission to display advertisements on the member’s profile.” The systems will also be used to help group individuals based on their shared interests and target them based on those interests.

This is something that Facebook already supports with their SocialAds service but one of the biggest downfalls is that some users may not update their interests. This system will theoretically encourage “members of communities in online social networks to enrich the content on their profiles. The presence of high quality content relevant to shared interests on a member’s profile increases the popularity of the member in the community and improves a member’s chances of being an influencer.”

Whether or not this system will provide a greater incentive than Facebook and other sites already provide is unknown but if updating your profile results in earning more money, I could definitely see this system working. Google has repeatedly stated that social networks continue to provide under-performing advertising inventory. Perhaps this is their solution to combat the problem.

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Friend Rank Patent Screenshot

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