Market research firm eMarketer released a report on Worldwide Online Social Networking Ad Spending today. In the report, Debra Aho Williamson, writes that “Worldwide, online social network ad spending is expected to grow by 81%, to $2.2 billion in 2008 from $1.2 billion this year.”

Williamson’s research also finds that “70% of all US teens visit social network sites on a monthly basis.” The value in social media isn’t just that people are gathering on a website, it’s about engagement. Instead of passive page views, people gather in communities to contribute to the communities in the form of commentary, content, hands-on interaction with widgets and applications etc. The more people contribute, the more engaged they are in any given community. So instead of reaching passive viewers who may or may not be ready to take action on any given advertisers message, with social media, there is the potential to reach more highly targeted, highly engaged audiences. These micro audiences are much more likely to take action on your messages. Imagine – for example – if your Dell or HP – and you can target only those people who are actively engaged in discussions about what computer they should by next … saving millions of dollars (and trees) that would otherwise be spent on more traditional strategies like cataloging.

Relevant Links
iMedia article that does a good job parsing the original research