It's no secret that I'm not a fan of MySpace. I haven't been from the very beginning. I believe it is the 2010 version of Geo Cities and that the only advertisers that really shown any results are online dating, soft porn, and entertainment. Those types of advertisers are fine when you are starting out, but to never grow beyond that it is pathetic. The CPMs you can get there still cost you less than buying a gum ball at your local diner. That's right for 25 cents you too can have a banner ad run in the "great" MySpace 1000 times. I don't really see any significant results that have made me approach them for a deal, let alone in politics.
Of course that won't stop them from trying to get a share of the political advertising budget which of course is expected to be huge. Webware has a summary of a recent survey that MySpace is releasing to try and make their case. You should not be fooled into thinking this is a fertile ground for you political marketers. Here are some highlights from the post called MySpace touts early success with political initiatives:
- banner ads invited a selection of users to participate, meaning that in order to even notice the invitation to participate (MY NOTE: SELECTION BIAS)
- the MySpace user in question would have to proactively click through (MY NOTE: MORE BIAS)
- Responses showed that MySpace users are 139 percent more likely than the population at large "to have visited an online chat room with public officials or political candidates in the last 30 days," according to a release (MY NOTE: THAT'S THE BIAS IN ACTION)
- They were also 29 percent more likely to have searched online for political information the day before the poll was taken, and 16 percent more likely to have read news online. (MY NOTE: THAT'S THE BIAS IN ACTION)
- It's convenient news for MySpace, which has been branding itself as a new-media political hub with its series of candidate dialogues co-sponsored by MTV, and a mock primary scheduled for the beginning of January (MY NOTE: MORE THAN JUST A CONVENIENCE)
Ok, so let me give you some inside baseball on surveys online. MySpace runs a survey using a pop-up banner and for a user to participate in the poll they need to click on that banner. Hmmm, let me tell you that I've participated in similar online surveys, but the big difference was they were conducted as control-exposed to the ad experiments. Those survey ads typically get a click thru rate of less than 0.01% and when I've run them they were run on reputable sites, not a Geo City clone where click rates for real ads hover just slightly above 0.01%.
What does this mean? Well for someone to participate in the survey they already have to be pre-disposed to seeing banner ads, seeing political ads and then be willing to take a poll. These types of people would of course be VERY INTERESTED IN POLITICS. So of course the numbers look great. This type of data is self serving for someone in the advertising business. All it is really trying to do is make it easier on their sales force to sell through to politics. Usually these ideas get cooked up by a sales team to make their lives better. The conversation goes like this behind the scenes.
BIG VP OF SALES: Wow Ace Sales Man, I just read a report that says political ad spending is going to approach a Googol Dollars by November 2008. If we can get 1% of those sales we can make our end of year goal.
ACE SALES MAN: Ok that sounds great, who do you want to work on this.
BIG VP OF SALES:: Well of course you! You are my top sales person so we'll make you Head of Political Sales. How does that sound?
ACE SALES MAN:: Well what about my big client, who gets that?
BIG VP OF SALES: We'll give it to Molly, she can handle it. Think of how rich you'll be. This will be an easy sale for you because we have a huge audience.
ACE SALES MAN: OK, well do you know anyone in politics?
BIG VP OF SALES: My neighbor is running for the Planning Board in my home town, I'm sure he knows somebody in Mr and Mrs President Campaign. Better yet, we'll make them come to us because we have such an awesome, engaged audience. Let's throw a survey together and build this new web page that the candidates will be beating our doors down to advertise on...
The problem with a self-serving survey like this is that it is almost insulting to the community of e-Campaign directors and media consultants (like me). While some campaigns (obviously not McCain or any clients that work with us) might be playing a little catch up on the internet that doesn't mean they can be fooled with survey data. Here's a hint MySpace, Political campaigns know more about polling and survey data than you do.
If you have a product that goes well with the content in MySpace, then by all means go for it. If you are a political campaign and you have a reason to advertise in there, then ummm, email me so we can talk unless of course you are one of the other Presidential campaigns and then spend, spend away in MySpace. Social networks work best as a CRM tool and not so well for acquisition unless you have R-rated ads.