It is not new fact that the bloodstream for any consumer internet company is advertising dollars. But to look at it other ways, it also depends on how those ads are being served to the end users. In accord to above statement, Google has filed for three new patent applications that suggest Google’s hopes to improve targeting for social media advertising. These new patents directly aim at making profits from patterns generating from user usage.

According to IEEE Spectrum:

The patents— Open Profile Content Identification, Custodian Based Content Identification, and Related Entity Content Identification — and the algorithms behind them would let Google find patterns in users’ profiles, pages, and friend lists in order to better target ads to them. Ideally, they would make the users more likely to click through.

The Open Profile and Custodian patents would mine data from, say, a MySpace user’s profile and the profile of the MySpace page the user is visiting. The Open Profile patent, for instance, would consider a user profile like “I really enjoy hiking, especially long hikes when you can camp out for a few days. Indoor activities don’t interest me at all, and I really don’t like boring outdoor activities like gardening.”

Google’s Related Entity patent, for one, involves prying information from a user’s list of friends or user groups. But Google is not alone in this field. In June the social ad firm SocialMedia Networks said it had invented an algorithm called FriendRank that also scours a user’s friendship lists for friends whose names might be dropped in a targeted ad.

Using smart language-processing algorithms to detect the user’s sentiments (“enjoy” or “don’t like” near “hiking” or “gardening”) and other linguistic cues, the system would then potentially serve up active outdoor sports-related ads to this user but avoid ads about more hobbyist-oriented activities.

Google still uses Google Adsense for contextual targeting in other websites but expanding ad networks in social networks with the concept of “Context” will be interesting to see. But Google is not first in this domain. I’ve mentioned earlier also how Facebook started with Beacon last year amidst lot of criticism on privacy issues. Infact, MySpace’s hpertargeting is similar kind of approach.

But I’m waiting to see if any set standard of online advertising emerges since it is much needed at this point of time. Moreover,  we need a standard in social media advertising to unlock further scalable growth in this industry.

Photo-Illustration: Armand Veneziano

Original photo: Ryan McVay/Getty Images

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