MySpace beating Facebook on ads? Well, duh

Why nobody in the tech world is surprised that Facebook is still behind MySpace in terms of advertising.

There's a big Wall Street Journal piece on Tuesday about how MySpace is still seriously beating Facebook in the advertising and marketing game, regardless of the fact that Facebook has started to breeze past it in traffic.

This is one of those stories geared toward the Journal's less technical readers, undoubtedly, since most of the details are no surprise to social media junkies. But the take-home point is a good one: Big media ownership has been helpful to MySpace, whereas the independent Facebook is still learning the advertising game.

MySpace is owned by News Corp. (which also owns the Wall Street Journal) and hence has much deeper and more established connections to Madison Avenue. MySpace is also more heavily reliant on traditional display ads, whereas Facebook has chosen to take a more difficult route with "engagement ads," announced in August, and other forms of "social advertising." It's part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's continual mantra of "focus on innovation and the profits will come eventually."

But Facebook had some notable success recently with a Ben & Jerry's "engagement ad" on Election Day. The ice cream company sponsored an event RSVP that appeared on Facebook's home page, where members could respond "yes" or "no" to its Election Day offer of free ice cream for anyone who voted. RSVPs from friends would show up in members' news feeds, meaning more exposure for Ben & Jerry's. And if the snaking line I saw outside a Ben & Jerry's near NYU last Tuesday night was any indicator, the marketing effort worked.

In other words, this advertising race isn't over yet.