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Social media disconnect: Where is the (big) money?

From Advertising Week to Shop.org to the IAB Summit to Ad:Tech, the mantra has been “users are in control,

Excitement for social media has been in full throttle in NYC this fall.

From Advertising Week to Shop.org to the IAB Summit to Ad:Tech, media properties (both traditional and new), corporate marketers and interactive agencies have been happily proclaiming that “users are in control,” and that’s a good thing!

At the various tech, advertising and commerce conferences I have attended in NYC over the past weeks, dozens of media execs--buyers, sellers, planners and analysts--heralded a new consumer led social media marketing revolution: 

"MySpace-Facebook $200 billion ‘Digital Millennials’"
“The economic opportunity is enormous if your brand reaches out to this group and allows them to engage in their social network within the customer journey.”

Yahoo vs. MySpace, Facebook, Digg, YouTube
"Embrace content ‘produced by ordinary people’ and ‘get influence on your side’ via Yahoo Answers, Yahoo 360…every ‘one’ creator of content leads to ten synthesizers of content and then 100 coveted consumers. Yahoo can make ‘your’ brand part of ‘their’ identities."

At the same time, however, a sobering dose of real world pragmatism was injected at the conferences by corporate marketers and seasoned advisors that serve them:

Coca-Cola: Will Google Sponsored Video really sell cases of Coke?
"How many more cases of Coke am I selling? I don’t know."

HP: Social networking not marketer friendly
"People involved in social networking tend not to trust products advertised in the social network."

"MySpace: What are 62,171 friends worth?"
"Most online programs do not result in ‘big numbers.’ How do we get clients to value it?"

Can Web 2.0 user engagement be measured?
"Engagement is about accountability, you are what your results are, business has to grow measurably."

Coca-Cola Interactive Marketing and HP Interactive Marketing are open to investing more in social media, if ROI can be proven and if the financial rewards outweigh the brand risks.

Isobar and Mediaedge:cia want to spur more client investment in social media, if bottom-line results can be demonstrated and measured.

Suzie Reider, CMO of YouTube, and long-time media professional, surprisingly expressed dismay that prospective marketers at YouTube are asking for quantitative evidence of the worth of the YouTube clip culture, such as a “Dynamic Logic” marketing effectiveness study (see "YouTube on marketers: Won't be 'messing it up'").

While the “community” is in control at YouTube and other social media properties, corporate marketers are making it known that they are in control of marketing spends at the properties.

Although social media is very user-friendly, it is not yet sufficiently marketer friendly.

The lack of a proven ROI in online social media, coupled with inherent brand risks in online social networking, are deterring corporate marketing investments in MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Google Video…

ALSO: "Web 2.0 hype: Popularity without profits"