Monetizing Social Networking Is A Priority For Automotive Advertising Agencies; I may Have The Solution!

Philip Zelinger
Human nature drives the success or failure of all media; it always has and it always will! In some sense, the Internet is the latest technology driven method to communicate and distribute information into the public domain for both personal and commercial consumption. The ability to directly compare it as a "media" vs. conventional radio, T.V. print etc. will reveal the strengths and weaknesses that digital marketing has and/or must overcome to draw advertising/marketing dollars to maximize the R.O.I. for today's struggling auto dealers. Several hundered T.V. stations on your potential customer's home theatre - (don't even get me started on the further dilution that TIVO has introduced) - and the multitude of choices between A.M. Radio, FM Radio, Satellite Radio and the CD/MP3 player in your customer's automobile has fragmented your ability to attract a targeted and qualified audience to sell your vehicles or service to using conventional broadcast media. As for print, email has taken over that role second only to the Internet so there is no need to even consider it when discussing future solutions vs. old world options. Similarly, even with a well monitored and managed S.E.O. and S.E.M. plan the millions of competing sites and messages on the Internet has diluted your ability to find qualified buyers - or has it? Twitter - for example - has excelled in what was thought to be a saturated social networking market by providing a more efficient method of allowing their community to keep in touch with a minimum of effort. Studies confirm that Internet shoppers that include Twitter in their online social networking profiles are twice as likely to click on a banner add or to purchase something online directly from an online advertisement. The point that I take from this observation is that time challenged Internet users are looking for more efficient ways to spend their virtual lives on the WWW which overflows into their lives - and buying habits - in the real world. I recently invested in a new B2B and B2C Internet advertising platform - http://Winkedin.Com - that functions like a "GoogleLocal" search engine tied to established social networking communities as a "one stop site" linking all of your existing online friends and communities. The efficiencies represented by automatically "signing in" to multiple online communities coupled with a local "filter" that limits your "search" for online products and services to pre-determined criteria established in your profile provides personalized and relevant information as well as efficiencies in the use of your time online. My reason for this post is to confirm my belief that the Internet has become too fragmented and time consuming for the true online shopper and that efficient access to relevant sites, products and services focused on local searches rather than world wide postings will be of value to consumers and advertisers. I will be introducing our new advertising platform at the 7th Digital Dealer conference to my friends, clients and potential investors, however, if you want to get the "flavor" of the platform you can visit to understand the integrated social networking function and to understand the local nature of the site and the multiple verticals that it links to. NOTE: The current Winked-in site is not the site that we will be introducing! It was the "beta test" that has since matured into our evolution of the platform as a central way to monetize social networking on the Internet! An incorporated local online T.V. station, localized email blasts included for advertisers, a monetary system known as "Community Dollars" with an established exchange rate for U.S. Dollars at a discount for advertisers and an online "Professional Consultation" service similar to Legal Zoom but across multiple verticals to local advertisers for a minimal usage fee to site visitors will be included in the final site. Oh yes, and it will also have a lot less copy with a much more intuitive flow for consumers so don't bother to evaluate the old design!!!! I believe that the "holy graile" of social networking is to figure out a way to monetize it without abandoning the reason that the online communities were formed - which was for like minded people to share their life experiences without the sales hype of a commercialized site. I would appreciate your insights and input on my assumptions and proposed solutions offered by the new Winked-In site that we will be officially introducing Q1 of 2010 with a preview November 1st - 3rd in Nashville at the 7th Digital Dealer Conference. After all, what are friends for!

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