Bebo Starting to Add User-Chosen Advertisements

Posted Dec 28, 2006

Bebo, the UK-based, band-oriented social network just announced that they would be including ads in the profiles of their users. The plus side of this new revenue-making scheme is that users can make ads appear on their website optionally and to a certain extent, the users can even choose what type of ads to include in their profiles. I’ve never heard of an advertising scheme like this. The ads will be in the form of embeddable widgets.

The ads also will predominantly be in the form of interactive games, possibly similar to “Punch the Monkey.” AdWeek states that “Advertiser applications will get a featured spot in the Bebo Widgets gallery.” Jim Scheinman, a VP of Sales and Development for Bebo calls this coined this iniative as “engagement marketing.”

“If it’s great content, it’s going to engage the user so much more,” stated Scheinman. “To the Beboer, they don’t look at it like advertising but great content.”

The first advertiser application for Bebo is a ‘stop smoking’ campaign by the American Legacy Foundation. Bebo plans to release many more advertiser applications at the beginning of the year.

Although Bebo does not have as much of a marketshare of social networking compared to MySpace, Bebo has a huge presence in the United Kingdom. In November 2006, Bebo had about 1.4 million unique visitors according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Scheinman hopes to have 30 million users by the end of 2007.

There will be a separate profile for advertisements for users to select various options. In the first six weeks, over 200,000 members have filled out these ad profiles. The users know how important ads are for the social network to be able to run. “They understand we need to do the advertising to pay for the service,” stated Scheinman.