Thursday, November 15, 2007

Death of the URL... and a fairer distribution of ad dollars

I spoke at the TUC yesterday. That's not something I blog every day.

To clarify, I was speaking at NetImperative's Online Publishing Sector Seminar which was held at the Trade Union Congress in Great Russell Street.

It was a good session with some great fellow panellists. My bit was about the impact of social networks (what isn't impacted by social networks?).

Two sessions struck me as being particularly relevant to the discussions on this blog.

Ivan Pope, widget authority and founder of Snipperoo dropped the 'death of the url' bombshell.
The conclusion is no suprise to anyone who has followed the rise of the widget - from google's adsense and Youtube code snippets, to rss readers and beyond.

Widgets are the reaggregation of disaggregation - and this time it's on the terms of the user.

Indeed, I offered this take on the subject on my blog in February this year: Services and the death of the website

Ivan has been kind enough to invite me to the Widgety Goodness conference he's hosting on December 6 in Brighton, so I'm hoping we'll have an opportunity to discuss this further, then.

The second idea I took away with me came from Mike Teasdale - planning director at Harvest.

Mike made a plea for a bit more fairness in the distribution of advertising spend. The story goes that google (and their ilk) gets the lions share of the CPA (cost per acquisition) cake because the final click is most often from search.

Mike argues that isn't fair - because it's not giving enough value back to the creators of the demand. You don't go searching for something you don't already want. Content creators/hosts are doing the job of creating desire.

Example: User sees an in context and related banner ad. What we do next is... very often not click it. This may well be because we feel interrupted, irritated or whatever. This doesn't much matter to Mike's case. What does, is that the ad has planted an idea in the user's mind. It may have seeded the demand and it has been displayed in a context in which the user was susceptible to that demand.

So there is no click-thru record of me 'responding'. But I do actually respond to it and I am more prepared to part with cash as a result.

More often than not I'll do a search around the terms the combination of ad and content has planted in my mind and do this because I want to do some comparisons - and perhaps because I don't trust one single ad when I can go comparing and do some consideration with communities I trust.

But despite all that - the combination of content and ad has had a large influence on a deal getting done.

I suppose one simple way of redistributing the value more fairly would be to increase the value placed on ad impressions served.

But to achieve this will need some serious client re-education. Perhaps this story should be in the toolkit of anyone selling targeting advertising on their own web properties - against the rising adsense tsunami.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?