A Tale of the Tape: Pros and Cons of MySpace and Facebook
While advertising on social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook in particular, has become more commonplace, that doesn't mean marketers have the medium figured out. A recent report from New York-based market research firm JupiterResearch examines the pros and cons, as well as some misconceptions, of advertising on these two sites.
Social marketers consider Facebook, despite having less than half the U.S. audience of MySpace, the more attractive of the two sites. In fact, Facebook was three times more likely to be included in the 2008 spending plans of social marketers than MySpace. These findings beg the question: Are the users of the two sites really that different? According to the report, no. Both social networks have long average visits with similar use of widgets, communication tools and other activities.
Not everything between the two sites is similar, however. Sixty-four percent of Facebook users say they mainly use the site for communication, compared with 52 percent of MySpace users. And 21 percent of MySpace users visit the site for entertainment, compared to 17 percent of Facebook users. But the key finding for advertisers is that the two sites attract similar audiences in terms of reactions to advertising and influential behavior.
And for the all-important cost of advertising on the two sites, it's structured very similarly between the two. A widget and/or page costs between $20,000 and $100,000 for an agency to create, and marketers often spend several hundred thousand dollars more on advertising on the sites to drive traffic to them.
Pros and Cons
Although very much alike, MySpace and Facebook each have their own strengths and weaknesses. It's incumbent upon social marketers to determine these strengths and then use them to their advantage. Here's a breakdown of the two sites, according to the report:
- Pros: Offers tremendous reach as well as rich branding opportunities; friendly to brand advertisers (such as offering sponsorship positions on the front page that include video); flexible pages, allowing for richer designs and applications; and targeting based on user interests.
- Cons: Has unattractive user pages and low engagement with ads, making it difficult for advertisers to run successful banner campaigns.
- Pros: Offers unique forms of viral advertising; experiments with products in an effort to integrate advertisers without deterring its users; allows advertising messages in its news feed; and targets ads to smaller groups based on registration information and interests.
- Cons: Lack of reach; sponsored ads on the periphery of the site are easy to ignore; and no splashy location for branded ads except on pages, which require users to actually visit them, or on widgets that rely on viral activity to proliferate.