The real money in social media might not reside in the ads that sit on Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, but in the data produced by users' frantic friending and sharing.
The rationale is simple. Internet users are now spending 22 percent of their time in social media, and Internet activity leaves behind a trail of data: what people like, what they share, and who is connected to whom with similar tastes. For publishers and application makers, licensing all that social data is a no-brainer—found money for what is in essence a waste product of their services. For advertisers, social data is a potential boon: a way to find likely customers based on their sharing and communication habits.