My Ads, My Friends, My Facebook

Weblo.com has created an advertising network that allows people to sell ad space on their MySpace and Facebook profiles as well as their blogs and e-mail.

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LUKE BURBANK, host:

Two million, four hundred, forty-six thousand, two hundred and seventy-seven.

ALISON STEWART, host:

What's that?

BURBANK: That is how many friends Tila Tequila has on MySpace.

STEWART: Oh I've got stories. My friend…

BURBANK: Wait a minute, wait a minute.

STEWART: …producing her show for MTV and ads for off-air.

BURBANK: Didn't that scientist just say we're evolving faster than before?

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: New evidence just in. Tila Tequila has two million friends. All that friendship for her has landed her a TV show, as you mentioned, Ali, and a certain modicum of fame or infamy or…

STEWART: Something.

BURBANK: …whatever you call it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: The real money though for her and other super-popular types on places like MySpace and Friendster might actually be with running their own ads on their sites. A company called Weblo has created an advertising network that allows people to sell ad space on their MySpace and Facebook profiles as well as their blogs and their e-mails.

And there are these programs, too, which are so interesting - slash depressing - and for me. You can put your Facebook account into this program that tells you what your Web presence is worth. I don't want to brag, but I'm worth a cool $424.98.

STEWART: Nice.

BURBANK: I'm rich. I quit - on Friday.

Joining us now is Rocky Mirza, CEO and founder of Weblo.com.

Hi, Rocky.

Mr. ROCKY MIRZA (Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Weblo.com): Hi.

BURBANK: You're joining us from lovely Canadia, I understand.

Mr. MIRZA: Yes. Montreal, Canada.

BURBANK: Montreal, Canada. Oh good, you know, we're talking about Celine Dion later in the show, if you want to stick around.

Mr. MIRZA: Excellent.

BURBANK: As a, you know, as a countryman. Explain to me how Weblo exactly works.

Mr. MIRZA: So Weblo's ad system is geared towards people who are creating content on all these sites like social networks or videos or blogs, but yet they are not getting paid. So they are the ones who bring the traffic, they are the ones who create all this content, but the site owners are the only one who are making money.

So we created an ad exchange that allows advertisers to put their advertisement on one side and allows end users to pick advertisement that they can host on their own profiles and make money from them.

BURBANK: How's this going over with the social networking sites of the world?

Mr. MIRZA: Well, I mean, it's your profile. It's your property in essence. I know there comes conditions that say otherwise and so forth. On Facebook, they have now allowed application developers to make money from their canvass pages, their applications and so forth. But if I'm not a creative person and if I don't know how to program and I'm the end user who've brings the real value to Facebook, I'm not really making money.

BURBANK: This is a real…

Mr. MIRZA: Just like…

BURBANK: What's that?

Mr. MIRZA: I'm sorry.

BURBANK: No keep going, Rocky.

Mr. MIRZA: So just like application developers are able to make money, in my opinion, end users should be able to make money from part of their profile also. And sooner or later, I mean, in user-generated world, sooner or later, sites will start looking towards that. Some will act proactively and others will act after, you know, market has swelled up.

BURBANK: This is a very 2007 conversation, you know. It's like, is your - in a spot on a place like Facebook, is it your cotton or is it theirs because they kind of, you know, like you - it's your friends, it's your popularity. And yet, the other ones that are, you know, creating the space on the Internet and all the programs that you sort of use. I guess, you would argue that those people - the Tila Tequilas of the world deserve to get their big sweat too.

Mr. MIRZA: I mean, honestly, it takes a lot of work and effort into, you know, building anything, including your own profile, which is the reason some people have, you know, just 10, 20 friends which will be just probably their true friends. And then other people who, you know, do everything that they can to build, you know, their network into thousands and millions and so forth.

BURBANK: And…

Mr. MIRZA: I mean, you know, if I was to create a profile on any of the social networks, and if I deleted that profile, you know, boom, it's gone. You know, it's not there no more. And, you know, so while it is there, you know, if I can clutter my page with all the applications from, you know, different application developers, I can definitely put maybe a small place where I can even at least try to see if I can make money.

BURBANK: Yeah, those emoticons on MySpace that go, hello, those automatically loading things can be on there. Those, by the way, that is a violation of the Geneva Conventions as far as I'm concerned.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: If those things can be there, then, you know, maybe you should be able to have a little something, something on your part of the page. Now, right now, Facebook doesn't actually allow people to sell ads on the profile pages, but they haven't pulled these ads yet either. Are you hopeful that you're going to be able to make this work?

Mr. MIRZA: Well, I mean, one of the reasons that ads are not on user's profile is because there hasn't really been exchange that allows them to do that. So with us, we developed exchange that allows advertisers to come and users take those ads because a lot of the other advertisement model like Google and so forth, they use java scripts, which a lot of these sites, they forbid.

So what we have done is we developed our ad network for these sites, which is image-based. So just like, you know, you can upload a photo of yourself, in a similar manner, now you can upload an ad. Which is image-based. Which is not blocked by any of these sites because obviously they allow other images to come, you know…

BURBANK: Do it right.

Mr. MIRZA: …to upload other images.

BURBANK: Right. Okay, well, Rocky, as we wrap this up, let's talk numbers here. Let's talk about my retirement plan, which is going to be my Facebook account. How much money can you really make off like a normal person's Facebook profile? Not one of these weird bots that has a billion people.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: And also, how is that even calculated?

Mr. MIRZA: Okay, so, first of all, is the integrated approach not only on your Facebook, but will allow you to put ads on your videos, Facebook profile, even your e-mail address as well as, you know, if you have a Weblo account, on Weblo. And just from Weblo account alone, some people have made, you know, a couple of thousand, two or three thousand dollars already.

BURBANK: Whoa.

Mr. MIRZA: So now when you add small amounts to other places, all those small amounts, but they add up because you get paid by per click. So some advertisers will pay you 10 cents per click, some other advertisers will pay you, you know, 50, 40 cents per click, depending on which advertiser's ads you're taking. So I mean, those clicks, they really add up. You know, look at Google. I mean, billions of dollars from clicks.

BURBANK: Yeah, I click here and I click there and…

Mr. MIRZA: Exactly.

BURBANK: …one day, you're getting married in the Bahamas and your wedding is being borne down on by a tropical storm.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: Yesterday, we were talking about the secret Google marriage…

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: …which is a kind of interesting story in its own, right?

Rocky Mirza is the CEO and founder of Weblo.com. Thank you very much. We do appreciate it.

Mr. MIRZA: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: Coming up on our show, our hearts will go on. We're going to talk Celine. Let's talk about love with music journalist Carl Wilson.

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

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