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The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Wingsplay

Quick Pitch: Earn money to share ads with your social network

Genius Idea: Wingsplay gives average people incentive to share ads with their social networks to drive product or service engagement and increase buzz.

Advertisers are sneaking into your Twitter and Facebook feeds — with help from your social media connections.

Wingsplay, a startup that launched last month, pays its users to share video ads on their social networks. The distribution model is key; it relies heavily on connected social networks. The founder, Olivier Lasry, says the best way for online advertisements to resonate with people is if a link has been recommended by a friend or social media connection.

Even though you may not Like or follow advertisers, ads could trickle into your feeds via a friend who is trying to make a quick buck or just likes to watch funny ads. Users can earn money by sharing up to four video ads per week. Users are paid by cost per view. The service is not meant to be used to spam social media, but more to drive conversations.

"The Web made it almost impossible to reach people with boring ads, " Lasry said. "People don’t care about advertisers who interrupt them. But the opportunity is huge for remarkable video ads, which people actually want to watch and share.”

For example, Major League Soccer is promoting the April 14 Philadelphia v. Columbus soccer match on Wingsplay. After sharing the video, Wingsplay users are paid 21 cents each time someone from their social network clicks on the user's link and watches the MLS video featuring David Beckham.

But the financial incentive isn't enough for a person to share an ad. Lasry says users actually like the ads they choose to share.

"26% of our influencers shared the first videos we distributed on Wingsplay, which shows that influencers only share videos they like, and that the monetary incentive is only part of the experience, " Lasry said.

Oxygen and NBC were the first big names to promote ads through Wingsplay in an effort to target a larger social media audience. The week before the new shows aired on NBC and Oxygen, both networks promote their new series through Wingsplay. Users shared a video trailer ad for the new ABC show "Awake, " which premiered March 1 and Oxygen's March 26 premiere of "Brooklyn 11223."

Lasry said the site, which is still in beta, has started with trailers as a test. Moving forward, he wants the ads to be funny, gripping, cause-related or clever.

"[Trailers] might not be the best fit for our distribution model, but there are many of them and they give us a sense of the minimum performance that can be expected from our network, " he said. "Given the results of our first campaigns, we expect funny ads to deliver an Earned:Paid ratio around 6, which is unheard of in the industry."

Lasry, who is originally from France, was inspired to start Wingsplay after seeing his friends share ads on their social networks. He figure if people are already sharing ads on Facebook, why not introduce advertisements through the consumer first? From there, real people can start coversations about the ads they're interested in.

Unlike celebrity brand ambassadors, the average social media user talks with friends on a personal level about the content he or she is sharing. People or more likely to enjoy the same things their friends like, Lasry said. So far, Wingsplay users are posting to Facebook most — 84% of all Wingsplay shares have been distributed on Facebook.

What do you think of advertising encroaching on your social networks? Does advertising make social media better or worse? Will you sign up for Wingsplay? Tell us in the comments.

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