Yahoo! Files Patent For Social Influencer Clout-Based Advertising

Do you have a fair bit of "sway" among your group of colleagues? Do you have hundreds or even thousands of "followers" on various social networks? Are you the CEO, founder or Senior Editor of your organization? If so, Yahoo! has devised a way to target you with higher-priced advertising. Don't you feel special?

Filed in late 2011 but finally published just this week, Yahoo!'s patent could scan social networks and other locations to give you an "authority" score - the higher it is, the higher the price advertisers will have to potentially pay to target you. A CEO of a company may be targeted with Adobe Creative Cloud ads, for example, while a little ole regular user like me might see one for Adobe Elements software - the possibilities are really endless.

Yahoo!'s patent doesn't just cover the ads themselves, but their positioning, so it's rather thorough. More so when you realize that it also covers scouting out what you "Like" on social networks, what lists you subscribe to, the number of posts you make, and even the influence of the people who follow you. Wow.

With NSA's PRISM and user privacy being the hottest topic at the moment, Yahoo! no doubt would have preferred the patent publishing date to be any other time but now. The company's patent is complex, and the amount of data stored on us is enormous. That's clearly not going to sit well with too many people - and would you want to be the inadvertent decider of which ads your followers see? Not me. Digital consultant Patrick Hussey has even gone on to call this the beginning of "Digital Darwinism".

We'll have to wait and see where this goes. Just because a company patents something doesn't mean they have immediate plans to use it, or plans at all. But with all that the patent encompasses, we'd imagine it'd prove very attractive to advertisers the world over.