Musing on Social Advertising

Sometimes I enjoy writing about ideas that aren’t fully thought through (like the post Musing on Three Not-So-Fully-Baked Ideas from last summer) – these are often the posts in which I receive some of the most interesting reader feedback (both in the comments and e-mails). I’ve written in the past about the notion of social commerce, content which doubles as product advertising shared/recommended by others. But what about the more general notion of “social advertising?”

Yahoo and a few start-ups are playing a hand at social search, but I haven’t seen much talk about the notion of social advertising. I am not referring to the notion of marketing with a goal towards positive societal change, but rather the concept that relevant online advertising could be potentially delivered to consumers based on information about which ads were well received by those in their social network? For example, if I click on an ad about, say a specific car, it’s likely that those who I know are also in a demo/psycho-graphic would also be interested in the same advertising content. In other words, would a MySpace or a Yahoo360 benefit from displaying ads also based on relevant data known about the user’s connections in conjunction with the other methodologies available? I don’t think that this concept is limited to social networks per se, but rather any content site which collects and contains social connection data. Perhaps a full implementation of this type of ad-serving is a few years off, but the idea of influencing advertising content based on the knowledge of a user’s peer-set isn’t necessarily a distant dream. Thoughts?

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.