Would You Like To Send Your Friends Some Ads? SocialTwist Sure Hopes So.

Later today at the ad:tech event in San Francisco, SocialTwist / Tell-a-Friend will be debuting a new type of social ad unit, which it claims is the first ‘word-of-mouth widget for ads’, in private beta. We covered the company’s forray into the content sharing widget space in September 2008, and indicated at the time that the startup was thinking of clever ways to monetize the service by working closely with advertisers.

Since then Sunnyvale, CA-based Pramati Technologies, the company behind SocialTwist, claims to have grown its customer list from 0 to 35,000+ advertisers from across the globe, including some heavyweights like P&G, Intel and Greenpeace. It’s been working to translate the service into a multitude of European languages and served up to half a billion word of mouth marketing and advertising widgets in the last 4 months alone.

And now the company is introducing advertising widgets – dubbed TAF4 Ads – that come with the ability for visitors to share the ads with their friends by e-mailing them a template e-mail and link to a destination chosen by the advertiser. The widget makes a clickable Tell-a-Friend link appear at the top right of an ad unit, which pops up a box where surfers get to e-mail a template message along with the original ad and a link to the website where the ad originally appeared to their Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail contacts, or alternatively send it out to a specific e-mail address.

To see it in action, go to this demo page and click the ‘Tell-a-Friend’ link in the top right ad unit. The rest is fairly straightforward.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t for the life of me imagine this gaining a lot of traction among web users. How many times have you seriously enjoyed an online ad so much you were dying to e-mail the experience to all your friends and relatives?

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought word-of-mouth revolved around recommending products and brands, not advertising units that promote them.