Can better data analysis help boost ad revenue for social media sites like MySpace and Photobucket? Fox Interactive Media thinks so, and is using industrial-strength database technology from Sun Microsystems (JAVA) and Greenplum to better target ads on user-generated content on its sites.
Fox Interactive Media (FIM) says its new mega-database will support monetization efforts for its network of social media sites, which includes MySpace, Photobucket, the IGN network of gaming sites and the movie review hub Rotten Tomatoes. The data warehouse was built using a Sun Fire x4500 storage server (known in storage circles as the “Thumper”) and specialized software from Greenplum for processing petabytes of data.
FIM said the new system will provide it with “complex, real-time analysis in support of FIM’s advanced targeted advertising systems. “ That’s an important priority for MySpace, which is one of the Internet’s largest sites (with more than 75 million unique users in July), but has proven difficult to monetize. Even Google, the acknowledged master of targeted advertising, has struggled to effectively match ads and content on MySpace. In January Google said its “social networking inventory is not monetizing as well as expected.” Google has a $900 million deal with Fox to serve ads in MySpace.
User-generated content can be tricky for advertisers, who yearn to reach the youthful core demographic for social media sites but remain wary of “upload risk” and having their brand appear next to objectionable content. As a result, ad deals for MySpace and other social networking sites have typically been sold at lower CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) than other web sites. Better targeting and performance would help raise CPMs across the millions of page views served by MySpace.
Fox believes improved data analysis can help it find the right combination of content, ads and advertisers. Arnie Gullov-Singh, EVP of Product, Technology and Operations for FIM, said Sun and Greenplum “are at the cutting edge of data collection and analysis” and can help Fox “put our data to work in new ways that will improve both the user and advertiser experience on our network of sites.”
Fox says FIM sites have nearly 190 million active users generating new content every day, creating “one of the world’s most demanding analytical workloads,” according to Bill Cook, the CEO of Greenplum. Cook said the Fox data warehouse provides “a perfect example of how companies can differentiate themselves, and change the game by intelligently leveraging their own data.”
Greenplum specializes in database software that can analyze terabytes of information faster and more cost effectively than traditional data warehouse solutions.