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Local Search Comes of Age

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So far, search marketers have had two options for reaching audiences on Web-wide scale -- buying your way in with paid search or natural search optimization. Advertising in geographically relevant search has meant buying terms exclusively on the basis of utilizing keyword modifiers in paid environments or going the way of city guides or Internet yellow pages.


The last time I broached the subject of local search, the world just didn’t seem ready.


Recently, the universe of geographically oriented search efficiency has come to life. Major research firms have opened the knowledge door to local search. Key search names have launched or completed beta tests and it looks like this corner of the industry is about to explode.


As I promised last April, here’s a breakdown of local search developments, what they mean to advertisers, and how the search world is about to change forever.


Keys to Convergence


Search, IYP and city guides have begun to come together. The New York Post online editions recently reported that Google and City Search are in talks to partner for local content. On the surface City Search would seem to be a good partner, but Google appears to be struggling as to whether to build or buy. Google is trying out a form of local search on its own. The “Lab” approach allows Google to use its massive audience to seek direct feedback from users on the model’s efficiency thereby delivering a really smart way of soliciting user feedback on the best route to travel. With all this activity, it seems the final offering is right around the corner.


Overture has headed into build mode. According to sources there, a local search product was accidentally released in a research and development announcement several months ago. Overture’s local search tool is being tested on AltaVista and the organization is not seeking feedback as openly as Google. The decidedly smaller sample size on AltaVista in comparison to the Google audience may lead to delays in a more broad release. A saving grace for Overture is the integration of local search responsibilities into the Yahoo! organization. Yahoo! has been working diligently to overhaul its search experience in offering users a choice to search either locally or globally.


The two giants jumping into local search has signaled the coming out of geographically orientated directional advertising opportunities. In no time at all, we will see the local destinations converge, offering searchers an efficient way. Internet yellow pages providers will adopt a performance-based pricing model as city guides have already done and search sites will continue to combine search functionality.


Local Intelligence


In April, I referenced a Kelsey Group report that indicated that a mere 10% of searches were local. Last week, Kelsey released the next wave of local search measurement, which placed the local search count at nearly 30%. That’s quite a difference.


According to Kelsey, the disparity can be attributed to some inconsistency in how "local search is being defined and measured. The major search engines are not always distinguishing between 'generalized local search' in general and geographic searches with an explicitly commercial intent. That makes comparing apples to apples difficult," says Greg Sterling, Kelsey's DD:ILM Continuous Advisory Service program director.


The consuming public searches geographically in two ways. Commercially, i.e. to find goods and services and culturally, i.e. looking for Aunt Gladys’ current phone number in Paramous, New Jersey. The measurement quandary lies in a site’s ability to accurately make the distinction.


That leads me to a big question. How can an advertiser determine the best place to advertise locally?


Counter Intelligence


comScore recently released the quintessential geographically orientated purchase behavior measurement tool -- the Local Market Reporting system. In a nutshell, this reporting system allows an advertiser to evaluate purchase behavior within local online destinations based on observed user behavior.


The sample report below depicts a cross section of Internet yellow pages buying habits for six U.S. markets in the dining out category. For example, in New York, NY visitors to SBC’s SmartPages.Com spend 17% more than Verizon’s SuperPages visitors. The data flies in the face of a previously held standard; Verizon is the telephone company provider for New York, naturally SuperPages would be the best online directory in which to advertise. SuperPages may very well be the highest reaching IYP for New York, but if SmartPages users spend more, maybe ad dollars should be focused on SmartPages.



They key to successfully integrating tools like this into local search marketing media plans would be to combine reach and frequency data with ad unit costs and purchase behavior. That is to say, one would compare search phrase or IYP category behavior across multiple sites market by market in order to find the best means of representation in those areas.


As with all things online, the idea sounds easier than practical application. Pricing models for each site are fundamentally different. For the moment, search sites charge by the click and phrase, IYP sites charge by geography, projected traffic and positioning. Ultimately, the planning process can include boiling down traffic and pricing models to provide an adequate level of apples to apples comparison. Difficult, but not impossible— and certainly worth the effort.


What Do You Think?


Of course, the debate continues as to who will hold say of ownership in local search, a debate that yours truly will carry on this week at the Kelsey Group digital directories summit in Reston, Virginia. In any case, I’d like to hear your thoughts on serving markets, so drop me a line.


Although we do not have a name and image for the final product, in the grand online marketing tradition of placing the cart in front of the horse we have the tools to map opportunities prior to the delivery of an easy to integrate final product.


About the author: iMedia search columnist Kevin Ryan’s current and former client roster reads like a “who’s who” in big brands; Rolex Watch, USA, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Minolta Corporation, Samsung Electronics America, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Panasonic Services, and the Hilton Hotels brands, to name a few. He is currently Director Market Development of IPG’s Wahlstrom Interactive where he provides guidance in directional online marketing to Wahlstrom’s prestigious list of clients and sister agency brands.



What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
As the first true social networking site for cooking enthusiasts, BakeSpace.com offers advertisers an array of ad placement and promotional opportunities on highly "sticky" pages with content created by and for BakeSpace.com members.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
BakeSpace.com was launched Aug. 22, 2006. As of Oct. 8, membership is approaching 4,000 and growing rapidly. During the week of Oct. 2 to 8, the site added an average of more than 200 new members a day, relying primarily on grassroots and viral marketing.


To date, BakeSpace.com members are:


84.2 percent female/15.8 percent male
Average age: 32, with 71.4 percent between the ages of 18 and 49


How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?
BakeSpace.com was launched Aug. 22, 2006, therefore visitor traffic data is forthcoming.


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video?
BakeSpace.com is ripe with advertising opportunities that include text ads and all sorts of banner ads (skyscraper, full horizontal, leaderboard, square and rectangular), and we welcome ads with rich media and video.


Describe an ad execution at your site that you’re particularly proud of.
As mentioned, BakeSpace.com was launched on Aug. 22, 2006, and is currently ramping up to offer a wide range of advertising and sponsorship opportunities. We’ll keep you posted.


Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content?
While there are no formal controls for advertisers at this time, all content on BakeSpace.com must conform to the Terms of Use published on the site. We’re very open to suggestions.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns beyond traditional advertising?
Absolutely. We’re open to suggestions regarding any style of advertising or sponsorship that is consistent with the site’s mission and grassroots style.


Can brands become a member of your site?
Individuals and organizations -- including brands -- are encouraged to become BakeSpace.com members, set up profiles and interact with other members.


Anything else you’d like to add about your site?
BakeSpace.com reaches consumers who are passionate about cooking and the culinary lifestyle. Members spend time on the site building their personalized online "kitchen" and posting, sharing and discussing recipes on the web’s most advanced recipe exchange database. These and other content sections, including the "virtual pantry" forums and "tearoom" chat area, encourage members to revisit the site frequently. BakeSpace.com is privately held and based in Los Angeles.


Next: Date.com




What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
Unlike other publisher networks that target based on a "channel" (i.e., an entertainment channel), Date.com targets specifically by a member's profile attributes.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
The nature of being single increases the likelihood that a person's discretionary income is allocated towards entertainment, fashion, dining out, movies and spending on self rather than on family. Additionally our members have a higher propensity to conduct online purchases and spend on items that provide convenience or improve their personal appearance and well being. If you want to reach web savvy, socially active singles with historically larger discretionary incomes, then Date.com is the place for you.


How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?             
Ad impressions: 50,000,000 
Unique: 2,830,000


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video?
Fixed banner placement, hot links, newsletters, co-registration and navigation toolbars. No video, no audio.


Describe an ad execution at your site that you're particularly proud of.
Trojan Condoms returns to Date.com running an integrated deal of fixed banner placement, hot links, newsletters, co-registration and navigation toolbars. Using our re-marketing engine, Date.com members fully understand and relate to Trojan's branding and positioning objectives.


Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content? If so, please describe.
Date.com applies a strict approval process before trafficking any banner advertisement on the site. We also provide a Creative Specification Guideline document to all advertisers before launching any campaign-- which includes restrictions against any thorny, racy content. If an advertiser provides an ad tag with different banners rotating in the tag, we ensure that all ads in the rotation meet our approval before the campaign is launched.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns, beyond traditional advertising? 
Yes.


Can brands become a member of your site?
Yes.


Anything else you'd like to add about your site?
If you’d like to add Date.com to your next RFP list,


Contact Alex Lehine
305-938-4400x227
305-535-0823 f
[email protected]
Date.com
1691 Michigan Ave suite 410
Miami Beach, FL 33139


Next: Habbo.com



What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
Habbo Hotel's virtual community offers one of the most innovative and cost-effective ways to communicate and interact with the teen demographic, build brand loyalty and modify consumer behavior.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
Our core demo is 13-16 with a 50/50 male/female split.


How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?
Habbo Hotel gets 1.7 million unique users a month, with roughly 40,000,000 page impressions.


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video?
We have some great integrated opportunities, with the ability to customize everything, such as lounges with billboard advertising links, games/quests, video streaming, animated music videos and viewing parties. We can also customize surveys to meet the objectives of the clients, send customized email blasts and provide customized campaign pages with downloads/streaming, news articles and blog pages. The majority of our content is trackable to provide clients with daily feedback.


Describe an ad execution at your site that you're particularly proud of.  
A L’Oreal branded "Studio Hot" beauty salon was designed and created where Habbos could participate in a runway-style fashion show and share beauty tips with their friends. A Makeover Madness competition gave Habbos a chance to win cool new hairstyles for their character. Habbos had to ask Miranda, the Studio Hot beauty salon attendant, for a password to get into a Studio Hot guest room. Once inside that room, they had to find a key word related to the L’Oreal products for their chance to win the new hairstyles.


Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content? If so, please describe.
Our 24-hour moderation branch excels at ensuring that the rules of Habbo are adhered to the fullest extent possible. This in turn provides a safe and non-intrusive environment for our advertisers to participate in.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns, beyond traditional advertising?
Yes, we excel at integration content.


Can brands become a member of your site?
Yes, we will also have some new enhancements in place by the end of the year.


Anything else you'd like to add about your site?
Habbo Hotel has been introduced in more than 20 countries with over 53 million Habbo characters created and more than 7.1 million unique users a month. We have also had great success attracting celebrities to our site. From the Teen Choice Awards 2006-- American Idol’s Paula Abdul, actress Kristina Milano, actress Vanessa Anne Hudgens, U.S. Olympic Medal Winner Shaun White and actress Brooke Hogan.   


Next: Imeem.com



What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
imeem is the fastest-growing online network for social media where users can post, share and discover new content of any type, including music, video, photos and blogs.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
95 percent are between 16-34; and 65 percent are male and 35 percent are female.


imeem has a large community of music artists, indie filmmakers, amateur videographers and photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers and internet-savvy professionals. Heavy interest in music (rock, hip-hop, electronic), film/movies, TV, fashion and video games.


How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?
3 million monthly unique visitors
108 million impressions on average


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video?
Outside of IAB ad unit graphic ad banners, we have branded channels and "mini-sites" with customized features that are in our network and benefit from the collective traffic on imeem.


Describe an ad execution at your site that you're particularly proud of.
We created a branded "mini-site" for a film on behalf of a movie studio partner in which the director and fans could share images and videos related to the film’s topic. Together, with a run-of-site banner ad insertion, this campaign generated over 100k unique visits and 800 user submissions.


Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content? If so, please describe.
We have a team that manually scours our content for objectionable content and also has an automated user flagging of objectionable content.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns, beyond traditional advertising?
Yes, online/offline integration, email marketing and event/tour sponsorships are available.


Can brands become a member of your site?
Yes, we encourage brands that are confident that they have consumer appeal and unique entertaining content or events to join our community.


Anything else you'd like to add about your site?
We’re committed to offering a social media community with rich content features and easy yet powerful user tools for the growing population of amateur and indie content producers. A key differentiator for us is that we provide a customized branded look-and-feel but also have great site features and the latest cool widgets.


Next: MyChurch.org



What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
MyChurch.org provides social networking tools for churches to find, connect and grow their church communities.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
Christians in the U.S., ages 25-35. Many have "graduated" from MySpace and Facebook, and want to participate in a clean social network catering to the community that they're currently involved in.


How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?
We just launched on Sept. 6, so the numbers are just starting to take shape. So far in September we've had 12,000 uniques, but it rises daily. So extrapolating to a month, I'd say 30,000 would be a conservative number.


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video? We are signing on our first advertiser now. Sponsors are encouraged to participate in immersion advertising. They can set up a profile and add any multimedia they want, including audio and video. Not only are the profiles customizable, but a sponsor's profile can have a media library. Sponsors, like the individual churches themselves, can also set up a Paypal gateway to accept donations. This is especially important for our advertisers, most of which are non-profit orgs. Given the unique niche of our users, we have a unique group of advertisers wanting to get visibility. Thus, we provide them with unique tools and channels to cater to a Christian-minded, non-profit-sensitive audience.


Another thing that is unique about MyChurch is that some of the participants themselves are looking to attract eyeballs. We're not talking about your typical MySpace user who wants to express himself with photos and blogs. Individual churches themselves want more visibility and new visitors. MyChurch is a medium for them to create a profile for themselves that is dynamic, interactive and authentic. And it's free for churches to have a profile! What church wouldn't want to advertise for free to Christians looking for a church in their area? Of course, we also allow churches to subscribe to a premium service, which would give them special recognition (i.e., more visibility) on our site.


Describe an ad execution at your site that you're particularly proud of.
Our first sponsor will start appearing next week on our pages. It is Alpha International, a global non-profit organization that works with local churches to run an introductory Christian class for students interested in learning more about Christianity. They have never had a way of keeping in touch with alumni or individual students since they let the churches run the logistics of the course. (This is despite the fact that 1.5 million people have taken their course!) Now they have a direct channel to communicate with their student networks. It also allows alumni to give back to Alpha International, whether it be through interaction and feedback, or monetarily through donations.

Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content? If so, please describe.
Yes each profile has moderation and customization control. Since our site is family-friendly and Christian-oriented, we don't really have a problem with inappropriate content from users. But moderation is done both globally by us and locally by the individual running the sponsor's profile. By the way, because of the cohesiveness of our community, our users are very quick to point out inappropriate content. They love MyChurch, and many left MySpace because of the mature and racy content.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns, beyond traditional advertising?
We highly encourage immersion and participatory advertising. We actually discourage simple banner or text ads, and already rejected a sponsor that wanted to do just that. We believe our unique group of advertisers wants to engage the Christian audience, and vice-versa. So we want to have a clear channel for them to converse and network.


Can brands become a member of your site?
Certainly, as long as they are family-friendly and Christians can identify with them. Some "secular" brands have expressed interest in getting in front of our Christian audience. Christians also seem to want to identify brands and companies that reach out to their overlooked niche. The irony is that Christians can hardly be considered a minority. Forty-five percent of Americans go to church weekly. It would be wise for advertisers to appeal to this audience.


Anything else you'd like to add about your site?
In keeping with our Christian beliefs and principles, we are dedicating 10 percent of our profits back to God's Kingdom. This will take the form of churches, non-profit orgs and charities. We will also let our users vote and submit organizations that we should allocate this money to.


Churches are unique from affinity-based social networks in that the community actually meets face-to-face weekly. And their members are enormously passionate about their community-- both in serving and participating in it and growing it. It is only natural for social networking to extend that tight-knit community online, between Sundays. Some churches have even resorted to replacing their church webpage altogether for a MySpace page-- check out http://www.lifecitychurch.com.


Next: Yahoo.com



Editor's note: These answers are in relation to the entire Yahoo! portal. Yahoo offers its own social network, Yahoo 360.


What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
Yahoo’s massive reach and innovative solutions allows marketers to target key audiences at multiple touch points and properties throughout Yahoo network.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
Yahoo, the No. 1 community on the web, offers our advertisers the largest engaged consumer base in the world, hitting every demographic group.


How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?
More than 400 million users visit Yahoo each month, and more than 200 million of those are active, engaged users. 


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video?  
Yahoo offers marketers a broad array of innovative solutions that allow for explicit targeting -- demographic, geographic, contextual and behavioral --enabling marketers to reach their key audiences efficiently. 


Describe an ad execution at your site that you're particularly proud of.
We recently announced a marketing program between Yahoo Video and Frito-Lay called "Crash the Bowl" that enables users to create their own Doritos Super Bowl commercials and upload them to Yahoo Video. Users will be able to watch, save to "My Favorites," comment on, rate and share these advertisements. Doritos will select their five favorite user generated commercials from all that are submitted and let users determine by vote which one will "air" across the Yahoo Network and on television during the Super Bowl.


Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content? If so, please describe.
Yahoo is focused on providing programs that give advertisers optimum value. We are committed to working with customers to create programs and advertising placements which bring them the greatest value and make sense for their individual businesses.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns, beyond traditional advertising?
Definitely. Over the past few months, we have partnered with several large brands on social media sponsorships and promotions. For example, MasterCard sponsored a campaign in conjunction with the launch of Yahoo Travel’s Trip Planner which allows users to create their own printable travel guide including photos, itineraries and reviews based on places they’ve been. The promotion included a trip plan writing sweepstakes with a co-branded microsite (Yahoo/MC) to promote the sweepstakes and to act as a landing page for Yahoo travel and network media promoting the event. We are very open to working with our clients to help them leverage our social media assets and large user base to reach and influence key consumer advocates of their brands. 


Next: Classmates.com



Editor's note: The following social network did not to respond to our questions directly but deserves a look due to its vast achievements in the social networking arena.


Overview
The custom advertising opportunities on MySpace are appealing to marketers ranging from consumer products to major studios and networks who seek a means to authentically and virally connect to their target demographic. Whether through a customized profile or a marketing campaign, brands and advertisers such as Disney, Toyota, Gillette -- even The U.S. Marine Corps -- have the opportunity to engage users, ultimately allowing the community to become brand ambassadors to their network of friends.


Demographic makeup of site


  • More than 100 million member profiles as of August 2006

  • Hundreds of thousands of new member profiles are created daily

  • More than 3 million artists and bands use MySpace to promote albums and engage fans

Ad impressions and unique visitors per month*


  • Second ranked web domain in terms of page views

  • There were more than 55 million unique visitors per month as of July 2006

  • MySpace now ranks as the No. 6 most popular site on the web

  • The site gets more than 30 billion page views in the month, second only to Yahoo!

* comScore Media Metrix, July 2006


Next: LinkedIn.com



Editor's note: The following social network did not to respond to our questions directly but deserves a look due to its vast achievements in the social networking arena.


Overview
7.5 million professionals use LinkedIn to keep in touch with colleagues, former classmates and other important contacts;establish a professional presence on the web; hire candidates and find jobs through people they know and find and research business partners, clients and service providers.


Demographic makeup of site.


  • 7,500,000+ professionals

  • 500,000+ senior executives

  • Executives from 498 Fortune 500 companies

  • 65,000 new professionals every week

  • Average household income: $130,000+

  • Average experience level: 15 years

Ad impressions and unique visitors per month


  • Ad impressions on LinkedIn: over 100 million per month

  • Ad impressions off LinkedIn: Target LinkedIn users acrosscomScore's top 100 websites

  • Time per user per week: 20 min

Next: Tagged.com



Editor's note: The following social network did not to respond to our questions directly but deserves a look due to its vast achievements in the social networking arena.


Overview
Tagged.com offers a number of prominent placements and integrated content advertising opportunities that reach our teen members in unique and authentic ways. Marketing efforts can be targeted by gender, geographic location and age. Brand Tags are the perfect way to get your brand and logo used interactively by teens. Teens welcome their favorite brands to be a part of their Tagged profile as a form of self-expression. Teens will also be able to give and receive brand tags among friends, allowing them to interact with each other-- keeping your brand as the focal point of this interaction.


Demographic makeup of site


  • 60 percent female, 40 percent male

  • 75 percent of members 14-17 years old

Ad impressions and unique visitors per month


  • 3.3 million registered members (13 percent of online teens)

  • 2.7 million unique visitors every month

  • 391 million page views per month

  • 2.5 million hours spent/month

  • 45 percent of daily visitors visit multiple times/day

  • The average user spends 20 minutes per day on Tagged.com
    (comScore Media Metrix 12/05)

Next: Ryze.com



Editor's note: The following social network did not to respond to our questions directly but deserves a look due to its vast achievements in the social networking arena.


Overview
Ryze is a leading business networking site, where members share business advice and build their networks, leading to sales, jobs and new opportunities!

This ad zone is displayed to all members except those from India, as determined by Ryze (e.g., by home country profile setting and/or IP#), at the top of half of the pages where ads are displayed at the top. For example, these ads are not displayed on the Ryze home page, on Network home pages, nor on home pages of paid members. These ads do not run on jobs.ryze.com.

Ads submitted should be business related and professional (and not mlm or dating related). Up to two of these ads are displayed at one time.


Demographic makeup of site

    Not available

Ad impressions and unique visitors per month


  • Page views per day: Over 38,000

  • Unique users per day: Over 6,300

Next: Facebook and others


Editor's note: The following social network did not to respond to our questions directly and had limited advertising information online.


AIM Pages
AOL’s social network, built off the original buddy list service. Special ad features on AIM include Buddy List mouseover expandable units, buddy videos, takeover pages and spotlights.


aSmallWorld.net
aSmallWorld is an exclusive network of like-minded individuals with an appreciation for the quality life. aSmallWorld has detailed aggregate metrics about the community, and offers a variety of advertising and marketing opportunities, from sponsored banners and pages to strategic partnerships.


Bebo.com
Bebo is the next generation social networking site where members can stay in touch with their college friends, connect with new friends, share photos, discover new interests and just hang out.


Buzznet.com
Buzznet is a vibrant community centered around user’s content, video, photo, journals and organized by individual interest. Buzznet works with entertainment companies, newspapers, media sites and other communities to create and highlight meaningful content. 


Cardomain.com
The CarDomain community offers auto enthusiasts a friendly home, tools to exchange ideas and information and suggestions on how to modify and enhance their vehicles. Through a variety of advertising and sponsorship opportunities, marketers reach a highly targeted, hard-to-reach young male audience. Marketers also benefit from the unique insights that CarDomain InsideTrack research offers into the thoughts and behavior of the CarDomain user base.


Cyworld.com
Cyworld has been building an online world since 1999. Cyworld currently has members in the United States, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. They'll be expanding to Europe, South America and India soon.


Dandelife.com
Dandelife defines itself as a social biography network built around the telling of life stories. Users create personal biographies and then share them with the rest of the world. Dandelife works with Flickr and YouTube to allow users to combine photo images and movies with stories about the people, places, things and events in their Dandelife biographies.


Dogster.com
Since launching in January 2004, Dogster.com and its sister site Catster.com, which launched in June, 2004, have become the fastest growing pet destinations on the internet and are now top-five overall pet destinations. Currently serving more than 1.2 million photos for over 265,000 uploaded pets by 225,000 members, Dogster and Catster serve more than 15 million pages a month to over half a million visitors.


Facebook.com
Facebook is a social utility that helps people better understand the world around them. Facebook develops technologies that facilitate the spread of information through social networks, allowing people to share information online the same way they do in the real world. Facebook launched in February 2004, and the website now has more than 10 million registered users across over 40,000 regional, work, college and high school networks. According to comScore, Facebook is the seventh-most trafficked site on the web and is the number one photo-sharing site.


Famster.com
A secure family-oriented online community, where families can safely learn, share, organize and play without fear of their children being pursued by online predators or having their content and personal information compromised.


Friendster.com
With more than 31 million members, Friendster is the best way to stay in touch with your friends and it's the fastest way to discover the people and things that matter to you most. Entrepreneur Jonathan Abrams founded Friendster in 2002. The company is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Benchmark Capital, Battery Ventures and individual investors.


Spoke.com
Spoke lets business professionals instantly tap into the exact prospect information they need, on demand. Spoke provides business data and detailed contact information on demand. This information as a service is designed specifically to help organizations identify, access and research the right individuals at all levels of an organization. Unlike other business information providers, this network has a unique ability to automatically connect data through multiple sources, including information gathered from the web, aggregated from published data and contributed to the network by other members.


Windows Live Spaces
Windows Live Spaces is a free online software service where you can blog, share pictures and connect with the people you care about -- or the world at large -- in an online place that you can customize to reflect your unique style and personality. There are currently more than 130 million unique users of Spaces in more than 50 markets around the world.


1UP.com
The MySpace of the gaming community and one of the most heavily trafficked sites in the gaming market. 1UP.com combines professional editorial content (in-depth features, news, and reviews) with user-generated content (blogs, comments and clubs). It is the hub of Ziff Davis's 1UP Network, which runs integrated marketing campaigns that span three magazines, five websites, multiple video properties and custom micro-sites and contests, reaching more than 10 million gamers online and 17 million in print.


Return to Introduction



A note from Executive Editor Brad Berens: It's worth pointing out that at the time of publication Classmates.com is the sponsor for our Consumer Voices & Blogs coverage, but its inclusion in this special feature is in no way a part of that sponsorship. You can find a more detailed explanation of our editorial policy here or contact me directly with questions.


What is your site's one-sentence pitch for advertisers?
Classmates.com utilizes integration and advanced targeting to uniquely invite advertisers into a content-safe social networking environment where 40 million adult consumers can find, connect and stay in touch with friends and acquaintances throughout their lives.


Please describe the demographic makeup of your site.
More than 40 million adult registered users


  • 49 percent, ages 35 to 54

  • 23 percent, ages 18 to 34

  • 38 percent, income of more than $75,000

  • 60 percent female, 40 percent male

How many ad impressions and unique visitors are there within your network in a given month?
Not available at time of publication.


What unique advertising products are available in your network? Any restrictions as far as rich media or video?
Classmates.com offers integrated profile sponsorships to promote brands through directly with user-generated content. The site encourages its advertising partners to use rich media formats as well as expandable banners and skyscrapers.


Adding content and affiliations to our site that support our advertising partners provides a unique opportunity. We have found that these unique opportunities allow our partners to “join the conversation” when our members start to dialogue. While we have and do accept most rich media formats, we have recently partnered with PointRoll to pass added benefits along to our advertising partners and their ability to engage our members.


Describe an ad execution at your site that you're particularly proud of.
Most recently, we partnered with CBS to promote one of their newest television shows, “The Class.” The Woodman School featured in the show was added to the Classmates.com school list, and all Classmates.com members were invited to join the school. Show characters interacted with members by posting photos and bios, adding members to their networks and posting to message boards.


Does your network provide controls to advertisers so they can avoid thorny content? If so, please describe.
The types of profile and interest information shared between our adult members (for example, favorite TV shows, music, pets), caters to an advertiser-safe environment, which is also policed by our quality assurance team to ensure the highest quality experience.


Are you open to other types of ad campaigns, beyond traditional advertising?
Not only are we open to it, but we are very focused on it. We are always looking for unique ways to leverage our trusted environment to help our advertising partners build their brands and engage our 40 million adult members.


Can brands become a member of your site?
Yes they can, and we strongly encourage it.


Anything else you'd like to add about your site?
Stay tuned for a number of new and exciting features that will deepen the user experience and, therefore, provide great opportunities in which our advertising partners will participate.


More general information: Classmates.com is a leader in online social networking that connects more than 40 million adult members throughout the United States and Canada with friends and acquaintances from school, work and the military. Its Classmates International subsidiary also operates leading social networking sites in Sweden, through Klassträffen Sweden AB (StayFriends.se), and in Germany, through StayFriends GmbH (StayFriends.de). Classmates is a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Online, Inc., (NASDAQ: UNTD).


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Kevin Ryan founded the strategic consulting firm Motivity Marketing in April 2007. Ryan is known throughout the world as an interactive marketing thought leader, particularly in the search marketing arena. Today's Motivity is a group of...

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