‘Get-rich-quick’ on the Net


During the 20-minute train commute home last week, a strategically placed sticker above a window caught my eye. The message on it (which I reveal at the end of this post) promoted a scheme that seemed like any of those alluring get-rich-quick-work-from-home offers. A second look got me thinking about how easy it is for one to earn some money, with just basic knowledge of the Internet. Some more thought went into it and as I neared the end of my journey, I thought that the Net and the plethora of its free tools and services is also a good medium to bring in fortunes (and hordes of customers) for a company. It is also a highly targeted way of advertising that goes beyond the “one-way” mode of traditional advertising.

Last week I also happened to meet Hari Krishnan, the Country Manager of LinkedIn India. Krishnan convinced me that social media is a boon for advertisers—if they knew the potential of the medium and how to use it to their advantage. Without naming the company he cited an interesting example.

Krishnan told me that a bank recently approached LinkedIn with a plan for a campaign for SMBs. So his team created a sponsored answers campaign on LinkedIn Answers. It asked a question to SMEs: What is it that you look for when pursuing a loan?  LinkedIn ran banner ads with this question, targeted at SME professionals only—and hence only SME professionals on LinkedIn saw that ad.

So in this context the SMEs knew that this was the bank (not an agency) talking to them and they started stating their views. The richness in context of answers came back directly to the advertiser (the bank).

I’m now convinced that social media offers advertisers and potential customers a platform for highly engaging and interactive advertising. And it also assures audience quality.

 Can you get this quality with click-through ads and page impressions? No.

And what was the alluring message on that sticker? Well, it offered INR 500 to INR 1,000 an hour. The message on the little sticker said, “Just open a (dummy) email account and then click on Google AdSense/AdWords links or fill marketing survey forms (read: with false credentials) and the (dummy) email address”.

Tsk-Tsk. I wonder how advertisers on Google will respond to this. Perhaps, they should now learn to use social network sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.

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