Can Google make social networking profitable?

Heather Green at BusinessWeek has posted an article detailing what might be Google’s next attempt at effectively monetizing social media traffic as they have web search traffic. Making Social Networks Profitable analyzes Google’s pending patent on technology that will rank the most the influential factor of social media participants in much the same way their PageRank technology is able to effectively rank page content.  Once the level by which a person is influential to their peers was established the new tech would allow targeted ads to reach people who may be able to push that message out further, going beyond simple adwords and into predictive behaviour paired with possibility of that ad delivery being relayed.  Click through for more details and interviews pertaining to the patent filing.