Today's International Herald Tribune has a great article about major advertisers attempting leverage social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Habbo. The article comes on the heels of a major contraversy that occurred last week when several UK advertisers pulled their ads from Facebook when they appeared alongside content for the British National Party.
As the article points out, it's a great new territory for advertisers who want to reach the rapidly-growing user base of these communities -- but it's not without its pitfalls:
For traditional advertisers rushing headlong into this new territory to reach tantalizing, young users, the ultimate nightmare is the surprise of sharing virtual real estate with risqué material or racist rants.
"Ultimately there are going to be mistakes and unfortunate incidents," said Debra Aho Williamson, a senior analyst with the research firm, eMarketer, and the author of a report predicting that global advertising spending on social networks would grow to $3.6 billion by 2011 from $445 million this year.
Both advertisers and the networks themselves are more careful - and warier - of advertising on the sites, but they're also developing new, potentially safer opportunities. Bebo has commissioned the team behind LonelyGirl15 to create an online series called KateModern which will feature product placements. Pretty neat.
The article highlights some other cool goings-on in the space -- definitely read the whole thing.