A few weeks ago I met up with a Grand Media Fromage to chat over the state of the social web. "So where's the money?'" he began. "Compared with what?" I replied defaulting to my standard line. However, Mr GMF then took an unexpected tack by saying he thought Social might be at a similar stage to Search (aka Google) when it was 'pre-revenue' (aka skint). And that it could easily go the same way as the Big G, snaffling many media executives' luncheons along the way. This was an observation that I've been mulling over ever since. I've long held the view that we are measuring tomorrow's world with yesterday's tools. It seems we are now waiting for a social operator (aka Facebook) to find a market mechanism that can unleash the vast latent demand within the media industry for techniques in keeping with modern customers' P2P lifestyles. Nick Gonzalez gets it just right for me: "There’s currently a metrics vacuum in the social media space and it’s
being filled with traditional metrics pulled from search and display.
The only problem is that these metrics don’t make sense for brand
campaigns in social media." Which essentially makes it impossible for brands or anyone else to invest at scale. Gozalez goes onto say: "Branding campaigns don’t have a conversion event, like search
advertising. Click through rates and impression volume used to gauge
display campaigns are radically different on social media properties.
Blogs average a little over one page view per visit, while social
networking properties average in the tens or hundreds. It’s not apples
to apples. While impressions do adjust behaviour,
clicks and conversions also carry a whole different meaning within
social media. People click to send messages, make friends, comment, and
share." Of course, the answer could come from anywhere but Facebook's vastness means it bears the weight of expectation. Which it has tried to meet through Beacon and more recent innovations. Maybe Zuckerburg & Co. will just follow Google's lead and keep an eye out for smaller entrepreneurs and *ahem* take their lead. Either way the stage is set for a new marketing sliderule and it will be fascinating to see if and how one develops. But in the meantime the vacuum grows...