Marketers still experimenting with social ads

Bambi Francisco Roizen · February 27, 2009 · Short URL:

Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz says advertisers aren't cutting budgets to target users in social networks

Marketers may be cutting their ad budgets online and offline, but not across social media sites, according to Ben Elowitz, CEO and founder of Wetpaint, a social media publishing service.

This may seem hard to believe in today's economic environment, where advertisers are less likely to experiment with their ad dollars, favoring the more prudent response-driven marketing that search engines offer.

But it's not hard to understand why advertisers would want to target social media sites, given the enormous audience base such communities are attracting. Recently, comScore announced that Facebook ranked in the top 10 most visited sites on the Web.

Wetpaint doesn't provide ad solutions for social networks. Rather, this startup allows media companies to create social networks around their shows. It's a service that's offered by many companies in different forms. But Wetpaint appears to have done something right. To date, the company - which has raised a total of nearly $40 million - has helped 1.3 million sites build communities with wiki features. This means that each site is crafted by the crowd. Think Wikipedia for Dancing With The Stars. In fact, a fan site for this popular show is powered by Wetpaint. Elowitz said that one action - a comment, a thread, a picture uploaded - happens every second across hit network.

Now regardless of the activity and the breadth of sites Wetpaint has, social networks aren't exactly a draw for high CPMs.

"What’s happening is that while CPMs are dropping from ad networks, the overall spend is continuing to increase," said Elowitz, in a brief interview right before lunch at the AlwaysOn OnMedia conference in New York, recently. "There is a massive increase in inventory, so even though the rate is dropping, the overall dollar volume is increasing."

Marketers are cutting offline ad spending and some areas online, he said. "They're not cutting experimental."

Advertising isn't exactly the business model companies want to be targeting these days. But I've seen the ad market disappear and come back. Ad-supported startups that stick it out with a product/solution that survives the recession and is around by the time the ad market comes back will probably be in pretty good shape.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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What is Wetpaint?
Wetpaint powers free fan-powered websites that are available to anyone and easy to use. In fact, that’s one of the many things that sets Wetpaint apart from other sites on the web. Creating a Wetpaint site is as simple as 1-2-3, so anyone can start a free website they can then share with their family, friends, and the friends they haven’t even met...yet

Starting is Easy
Start by choosing what topic you want your site to be about, then pick from a variety of site styles, whether you want your site to be public or private, and who you want to contribute (everyone, or just a few friends?).

Building is a Snap
Once your site is launched, adding content is easy with the EasyEdit Toolbar. You’ll see that editing a Wetpaint page works very much like a word processor: You can “click” on any open page and start typing. Even better, you can also add photos, YouTube videos, polls . . . it’s all as simple as “click and type.”

Join in the Fun
Not ready to start your own Wetpaint site? No worries...visit and search for a Wetpaint community that’s right for you. (We’re pretty sure there’s something for out there for you; people just like you have started more than 1.5 million Wetpaint sites.) Join the site and add your two cents to the conversation.


Ben Elowitz

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