How to Conquer an Inventory Crisis Lacks Advice

Eric Porres is a partner with Underscore Marketing and he wrote a 6-page In-Focus piece in iMediaConnection today about behavioral targeting entitled: “ How to Conquer an Inventory Crisis.”  Eric is a media guy and he knows the space pretty well, moreover he is a BT guy and has made some contributions to the industry on the topic in the past.  But this time around where you would hope for some meaty substance and take-away advice, Eric comes up a bit short.

He does a sharp job at getting a reader to agree that the point of any online campaign (direct response anyway) is capturing new customers and recapturing existing customers.  I guess not everyone wants to write the proverbial 10-step to … article, and thank god for that, but you still want the In-Focus pieces to give some practical steps about what you should do when you find yourself in the related conundrum.

Inventory is getting more competitive.  Finding the niche sites is harder to do.  Eric illustrates how to use MediaMetrics to your advantage but what about his mentioning of Alexa and Quantcast?  How are leading media buyers and planners using those as well?  How do you integrate to become more effective in an increasingly competitive marketplace?  With over 20M sites, Quantcast is one of the fastest growing media planning tools out there – especially for the smaller agency who can’t afford Comscore.  The cutting edge sites recognize that, and so they are flocking to Alexa and Quantcast for that reason.  They want the new, new media dollars.

Re-targeting is hot.  Ouch!  Eric glosses over this with a simple explanation.  He knows this topic better and to assume that the audience just get’s it, is part of the problem in this space.  People are not spending time going deep with the details.  I blog about this topic too frequently to go off on it now, but I do think that when we get into an In-Focus article we should see more practical insight into how to use these technologies so that there is a take-away that we can apply ourselves. 

When you advertise on the same sites, month after month, the composition of your advertising audience is increasingly becoming more and more comprised of both your customers and your previous leads.  People frequent the same sites.  If you advertise in the same places – presumably because they continue to perform – you will be exposing yourself to more and more of the same people.  You still perform well because the audience is large enough to generate new opportunities.  But there are existing customers and former leads there too.  Re-targeting is very important to advertisers who spend money on the same sites.  Having the opportunity to communicate to your existing customers and your former leads is vital.  Why re-prospect your customers when you can cross-sell, up-sell and regenerate more revenue from them?  Why re-pitch a lost lead the same way again?  Acknowledge their disinterest the first time around and play on it, maybe it will work.

Everyone likes to use buzz words, I’m guilty of it too.  Long tail and Web 2.0 are two of my favorite.  People don’t even necessarily know what they mean any longer.  Or they never did.

“To be fair, the dilution of context when weighed in the balance of media efficiency may not justify the exercise, but in the end, we’re really interested in the behavior of our prospects.”  Huh?  Okay, actually this statement by Eric makes more sense in this blog than it did in his article.  I am pretty sure he was trying to explain that undervalued inventory, when bought in larger volume, can have as great of an impact as that premium space.  So look into that.  RightMedia Exchange is a great source of decent inventory at a great price.  And of course there are a ton of networks out there.  Eric did point out that buying behavioral targeting services will boost your response rates and if you buy that inventory at auction, you could be doing even better with your ROI.

Of course, there are always the non CPM models.  If you are buying direct response, you don’t have to buy CPMs.  Can you still deploy BT if you are not buying CPMs?  Actually you can.  You can’t count impressions, but you can cookie your visitors and your customers and use an ad server to serve your ads.  Obviously you will be serving a huge number of impressions, so find an ad server willing to negotiate a great rate for you – use a low file size and agree to a high volume commitment and some ad servers will play ball.  But if you use a first party ad server (TruEffect) or a BT-providing ad server (DoubleClick’s Boomerang) then you can still do it.

What about Search?  Can you do BT?  You can’t on the serve, but you can once the click takes place.  You can cookie the user or read the cookie on the user’s browser and then drive them to unique landing pages using something like CoreMetrics. 

This is the kind of information that Eric could have provided to us in his article.  The deep-dive In-Focus articles are meant to give us some meat where the daily 800-word essays don’t have room to provide.  Of course, Eric only used 1,000 words.

Reactionary with Insight

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