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Danielle Ogden

Ms. Ryan

CO 300

March 24, 2009

Interactive Advertising Through Social Networking


This article researches how businesses can use interactive advertising tools on social networking sites to expand their companies. It evaluates the different ways the advertisements can be placed and how they are used in order to get social network users to participate with their company. Companies have invested a large sum of money into these interactive advertisements and billions of people are exposed to them on a daily basis. The article shows how the relationship between the number of people and the money spent benefits the companies using them. Also how the communication between users and their fellow users can expand their company’s name.


Throughout the competitive business world, businesses must find interesting ways to advertise their product. They often find the need to become increasingly more creative with the way they put their products out into the market to be seen. One way they’ve done this is by using interactive advertising. A large source of these interactive advertisements can be found on social networking sites. Sites such as: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and virtual world sites to name just a few. Not only do college and high school students use these sites, but more and more businesses and adults have found these sites useful as well. People can easily get in touch with people they may have not seen or heard from in years and easily reconnect with them. Because of the great number of people who use these sites, it makes it very easy for businesses to get their products/names to be seen. Not only can they get their names out in the country they’re stationed in, but also people all over the world use these sites so it also allows them to gain global networking. Therefore, these social networking sites allow businesses to expand their company and take it to the next level.

One-way businesses can use the social networking sites as a tool is to become a part of one. Once they have joined the site of choice, they can begin to create their own page, or make a group, depending on which site they choose. Once the page is created the company is able to decorate and design it however they like. This will draw attention to their page and attract fellow site users to “become a fan” or “befriend” the company. It’s important that their page be accessible and easy to use so the possible customers don’t get confused and discouraged when trying to find what they need. On the page or group they can display all their company’s information such as: location, their product, motives, contact information, basically anything a potential customer would need to know in order to get in touch with the company. Here, they can also display pictures of the company, its products and even its workers to give the public a glance into the company’s operations. People can feel more connected and comfortable being associated and buying from someone they know more about, “the site is a technical illustration of a home’s interior” (Schroeder).

Once the page or group is created, the networking can really begin. There are several ways that a business can get their name out into the social networking world. One way, and probably the simplest way to do so, is by sending mass messages out to people who use the site. Another way, is by status updates. These updates show up on the homepage of everyone on the site, so it’s extremely easy to get the word out on events or sales the company may be having and how people can participate. The next helpful tool social networking sites provide is to write comments on their “friend’s”or “fan’s” pages. This tool is extremely helpful in networking the business because friends of the friends will see them as well. And if they see that their friend is a part of the group they will join more easily because their close friend has joined. Over time, after using these techniques, the company’s page will have a fan base that is quite large. Software businesses like Apple, car companies like Jeep, and clothing companies like Macy’s have extremely large fan bases in the millions.

Not only can a business become a part of the social networking system, they can place advertisements on the sites homepages of users. These can be as simple as just the name of the company that one can click on to get more information or as complex as to make the ad into a game for users to play that will direct them to the company’s site. They often appear at the top or sides of the pages and are usually animated to catch the attention of the user. Some advertisements will even go as far as popping up and taking over the whole screen as soon as you log on so there’s no avoiding them. Companies will often use the game tactic to draw in customers. Offering that if they win the game at hand, they could win a product of the company’s for free. This encourages people who may not even be interested in the first place to play regardless to see if they can win. Like most of the interactive advertisements that pop up on the sides of the pages of the sites, once they click on the game, it usually sends them to the company’s page. Here the potential customer is forced into looking at the company’s information and hopefully will find something they like and join the company. Businesses spend a ton of money on these advertisements on social networking sites. It’s estimated that “advertisers may spend as much as $971.3 million in game advertising in 2011” (Yankee). The amount of money spent on these advertisements seems to be proof alone that these interactive advertisements are effective. They would be crazy to spend that much money on them if they weren’t proven effective.

One problem we’ve seen with these interactive advertisements that show up all over the sites is that some users don’t like them. They complain that they didn’t log onto the site to be bombarded by constant advertisements all over their screens. Especially those that come up without control of the user, they interrupt whatever the user is doing at the time. Many complain that the persistent ads are annoying and make their internet use time un enjoyable.

Another huge world of interactive advertising can be found on the virtual worlds people so often participate on. Sites such as Second Life, allow members to create virtual selves, called avatars, and live in the virtual world with other members. These virtual sites have a large following, “by 2011, 80% of active Internet users (Gartner 2007) and 53% of child and teen Internet users (Williamson 2007) likely will participate in virtual worlds” (Hansen). In addition to the giant numbers of users on these virtual world sites, it’s often that most members play for hours at a time and even multiple times a day.Leaving a large window for companies to get their product into play. Almost everything done by these virtual characters can be used as interactive advertisements. Many companies have invested in these virtual games to create advertisements for themselves, “Viacom's MTV will invest $1.3 billion in games by 2010, in hopes of revenues from advertising and sales of virtual and nonvirtual items” (Lowry). Television companies often participate in the virtual world by incorporating characters from their hit shows into the virtual world. “One MTV study shows that Pepsi, a prominent Virtual Hills/Laguna Beach brand, received ratings indicating it was perceived as in touch with youth culture and cool or hip by almost 70% of the fans who watched The Hills, went online for show content, and played the game” (Hansen). Even music companies such as Rhapsody, have invested in the company. They allow game players to listen to their music while playing in the virtual word. The game requires the avatars to live just as normal people do. They must have and decorate virtual homes, eat virtual food, go virtual shopping, and wear virtual clothes. As a result, companies that represent every kind of product can take advantage of this virtual world obsession.

One final way that social networking sites can contribute to the success of companies is the ever so popular, word of mouth. With the global usage of these sites it’s acceptable to assume that almost everyone either is a part of these sites or knows someone who is. Therefore, when a company is seen on these sites, it’s likely that if someone enjoys the company’s site or the product, that they will share the information with their friend. Then that friend sharing with another friend and so on will be extremely helpful to the businesses.

Social networking sites seem to be taking over the world. Businesses are observing this and thinking why not jump aboard? Just considering the extremely large number of people using these sites, it seems almost common sense that businesses would take advantage of the exposure offered by them. With all the options to get their brand name out there, it’s incredibly easy to become a world known name. A business not taking advantage of the cheap and easy exposure of the sites is almost unheard of these days. All the top companies are using them and even smaller, less known ones who are trying to build up their customer base. It almost seems absurd that a business wouldn’t use the sites, they’ve got nothing to lose and the world to gain.


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