Back when MySpace was all the rage, there was a lot of talk about the seemingly wide disparity between its traffic and its profitability. As it turned out, the company really couldn't figure out a good way to monetize its traffic, as its advertising rates were pitifully low. Eventually, the company signed a deal with Google, ensuring that News Corp. would comfortably recoup its purchase price and then some. Now that Facebook has assumed the mantle of social networking site du jour, all of the same questions are again being raised. One advertiser notes that the click-through rates on Facebook ads are terrible, which in turn forces it to sell advertising at cut-rate prices. As Valleywag notes, the cheap ad prices bring in some unsavory advertisers who put pop-ups on your computer along with false warnings that you've been infected by a virus. Of course, this only makes users less inclined to click on ads in the future, exacerbating the cycle. None of this is to denigrate what Facebook has accomplished so far, which is obviously quite impressive. But at the end of the day, the company will have to find a better way to profit, especially if it wants to go public.
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