MySpace Launches Targeted Ad Program

News Corp.’s MySpace social networking site is using personal details contained on users’ profile pages and blogs to sell highly targeted advertising, the company said Tuesday.

The Web site started the first phase of its “interest targeting” experiment in July, culling likes and dislikes from its users’ pages to sell ads in 10 broad categories such as finance, autos, fashion and music. >>Full Story

Thoughts// The announcement that MySpace will begin behaviorally targeting users based upon their MySpace pages could become the first real test to determine the threshold of how much information consumers are willing to give in order to receive targeted, relevant ads. While most online users have been behaviorally targeted already, one would assume the vast majority of this group is unaware that any targeting has taken place. However, in the case of MySpace there is the potential for a connected, vocal group to educate the majority of users on how their profiles are being searched for keywords…and for those users upset with the practice to move on to another social networking site.

While most behavioral targeting takes into account which pages you have previously visited and then serves ads for those companies (basically), the MySpace model will actively search out and look for keywords that you have used in blogs, quotes and descriptions of yourself on your MySpace page. So, if you have just wrote a blog about your upcoming vacation to China, a company such as Orbitz (for example) could use that information to run targeted, China-related banners (for flights, hotels, etc.) on your MySpace page. Talk about a targeted message.

As the investors and parent companies of these popular web companies look to monetize and recoup investments, how will advertising programs such as this one affect the reputation of these sites with there members? Will MySpace users accept this type of advertising or simply move on to the next, new site?

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