The next time you get on Facebook or MySpace, how would you feel if you knew that a company was tracking your every move? I mean literally, every move of your mouse. That’s exactly what one company wants to do and is doing on mid-tier social networking sites (the ones not as popular as Facebook or MySpace). Lotame is a company whose name is a mash of the first two letters of the words “local, target and message.” And Lotame is cutting deals with companies like WPP’s Mindshare to display ads to social media users based on the time they spend on social media sites, and the time they spend clicking on the ads on these social sites.
This is an example of advertising that takes another step away from the traditional model of placing ads based on content, and instead places ads based on the context of the audience who will see those ads.
Lotame has created a way to target audiences that allow advertisers to display ads based on where and when the consumer would be most receptive for a certain advertising brand. For instance, if you clicked on a Nike ad while on a social networking site, the next page you get to on the social networking site could have an Adidas ad. (Let me make it clear that Nike and Adidas do not have any affiliation or business with Lotame that I know of. I’m just using these names as an example.)
Lotame focuses only on social networking sites and builds audience networks based on how much time that audience spends on the site. Lotame focuses in on the advertising interaction on the social media sites. According to Online Media Daily, “The tools are so sophisticated that they utilize biometric techniques that can determine whether a user’s mouse is active or inactive on a screen and whether their screen scrolls on or off a page showing an ad, or even partially obscuring it.”
Lotame CEO Andy Monfried says “We’re the next generation of an advertising network.” Monfried likens the Lotame system to Google AdWords, saying that his system is doing for the social media market what AdWords did for keyword search buys. It lets advertisers focus their messages to a targeted audience and strips away any extraneous impressions.
Is it just me or is this starting to get scary? Monitoring how much time I linger on a Web site and feeding me ads depending on how long I spend clicking thru on another ad creeps me out. Sounds very Big Brother-ish. I personally hope that this venture won’t last long – it’s already hard enough to protect our privacy online as it is without advertisers getting into our business.