Self-Service Display Ads

I’m not jumping on this bandwagon just yet, here’s why. MySpace hyper-targeting is super elegant and compelling on powerpoint but in practice the results are mixed. Not much has been published by MySpace but we ran a few pilot programs around Hypertargeting and the results we achieved with some targeted content that mapped well to the MySpace demographic were mixed. MySpace talks about a “50%-300% improvement” in clickthrough rates but the problem is their baseline CTR case is so low to begin with that even 300% improvement only makes it less bad.

Extending Hypertargeting with self-service display ads makes sense but just having access to a self-service system doesn’t ensure that participants will be successful with it.

This week, the News Corp. property is rolling out its MyAds self-service banner ad system. It hopes to attract tens of thousands of organizations and small businesses to create their own display ads that will be matched to user interests and placed through a Google-like auction system. The bet is such placements, using “hyper-targeting” criteria that mines personal profile data, will make the 56 billion banners displayed by MySpace each month more valuable.

[From Can Search's 'Beautiful System' Extend to Display?]

Advertising in social networks behaves differently than on websites, that much we know, and all of these sites have benefited from an environment that emphasizes that experimental value for brand advertisers. There are some compelling campaigns being run around social networks and I don’t want to pour water on them without giving credit for what is working, but successful campaigns are more the exception than the rule, were that not true we would be hearing a lot more about them. With a contraction in brand advertising in 2009 certain, social networks will come under increasing pressure to demonstrate that that advertising technologies are producing broad and identifiable success stories.

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$7.5B sales plunge forecast for newspapers

The newspaper industry is likely to be the next one calling for a bailout… if these projections are accurate.

Should this forecast prove to be correct, sales would tumble by 16.5% to $37.9 billion from last year’ s depressed level and the industry will have lost a staggering 23.4% of its revenues since producing a record $49.4 billion in sales in 2005.

[From Reflections of a Newsosaur: $7.5B sales plunge forecast for newspapers]

More interestingly, the online newspaper sector has been growing significantly over the last couple of years and online news sites have done all the right things with regard to adding video/audio content, expanding features sites, syndicating third party content and services, and courting interaction with the audience. We can quibble that they aren’t doing enough of the above, but the fact remains that online audience has consistently grown and key metrics, like time spent, have improved.

The elephant in the room is the ad networks and declining value to newspapers as their core audience grows and online inventory expands. I argued as much in this post, suggesting that at it’s core the newspaper business (and associated advertising sales operation) is inherently local while ad networks are generalized.

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Celebrating Columbus

It’s become trendy in recent years to dismiss Christopher Columbus as simply the instrument by which native American cultures were destroyed by. I don’t buy it and here’s why, the spread of western civilization represented the spread of reason, science, and self-responsibility. 15th century Europe was not ruled by fear and panic about the natural forces surrounding them, nor did they rely on invented rituals and elaborate tales to deal with the forces they did not understand. Tribal cultures could have evolved a modern understanding of nature and the forces of nature, but they simply did not.

Looking past the abuses, and there were many, to the core values that the Europeans brought, which ultimately evolved to American values, and well there a lot to celebrate about the achievements of Columbus.

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