I've been doing some research into the online display advertising channel as a natural extension to NextMark's media planning tools. You might assume that everything is streamlined and super-automated in this world. But I am finding that it is messy and crude, perhaps even more so than the offline world (if you can believe that).
"Turns out that buying and selling ads online is byzantine with inefficient processes and cumbsome legacy systems. Nothing works well or together. [..] The current system is - to put it politely - slow. It may also be inaccurate. And you know going in that you will have to overbook to cover your promise. [...] You have to cobble them all together. It took ten separate contracts and two weeks. [...] A disconnected process full of time-consuming manual steps and multiple approval bottlenecks to catch the mistakes inherent with the process."
Is it just me, or does this seem a lot like list rental?
It's also crude.
Anyone who has used mailing lists knows the deep level of data and behavioral targeting that enables you to achieve relevance with your marketing. In looking at online display, I am amazed at how weak what is considered "advanced targeting" in online. Looking for coffee drinkers, chocolate lovers, or java developers, or CIOs? That's easy with postal, but very difficult (impossible?) in online display. Especially if you want to do it at any scale.
There are many problems with poor targeting, including:
- Ad fatigue - contantly showing irrelevant ads trains the viewer to ignore
- Poor advertiser ROI - when people are seeing irrelevant ads or are blind to them, they don't respond
- Lost publisher revenue - if the ads don't work, advertisers will not be willing to pay very much for the impressions
Nobody wins when there's no relevance.
Where there's a problem there's an opportunity. Online display is getting a lot of attention and dollars. I expect we will see some great things in the next few years.