David Smith and The Medium is the Metric for Online Ads

Fantastic!  When David Smith steps up and writes an article, people should listen.  If you have the opportunity to attend a venue where he is speaking, you should make it your business to sit in on his session.


Earlier I posted an entry about when to blog and when to publish.  David should always, always publish.  He is not about self-promotion but rather call-to-action.  Although he never admits it, MediaSmith strives to meet or exceed all the demands that he places on us as agencies, advertisers and vendors servicing the industry.


In today’s iMediaConnection, David wrote “The Medium is the Metric for Online Adsand he pulled out all the stops. 


He gave us illustrations for why digital research is taking a quantum leap with Quantcast.  Dwarfing what ComScore and NetRatings have to offer, Quantcast provides insight into millions of websites.  Forget @Plan which is a front to DoubleClick’s publisher database.  Quantcast is considered to be the next, new and potentially most accurate source of secondary publishers in the industry.  Ad servers should be integrating with them, and agencies should be taking a long hard look at providing access to it for their media planners.  Currently, they measure 20 million web sites and growing exponentially.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you abandon Comscore, not yet.  Soon they will not just be about the secondary web sites, but the primaries too.  Their model is primary about getting publishers to post tags on their sites so they get tracked, but if they continue to get traction that won’t be an issue.  Watch these guys.  I am. 


David also brings up Blackfoot several times.  David has been working with Martin Wesley and the team at Blackfoot for a couple of years.  I have known Blackfoot and have watched them grow-up from a one-room office to the organization that they are today.  Blackfoot offers cutting-edge analytics software and people like David Smith have been experimenting with it from the days when it was based entirely on processes.  While still involving teams of analysts, Blackfoot’s Analytix is a composite compilation of disparate sources of data.  Accomplished through a team of manual processes, this service model produces analysis capabilities that rival the comprehension capacity of the top-5% intellect in the industry.  Dumb-it-down and you still have huge insight into the holistic marketing initiatives for an advertiser.  A lot of data for making decisions.


The call for dashboard views has been David’s MO since I first met him last year.  As I mentioned in my January 10th, 2007 post, Improve Your Stats, Don’t Over Analyze, Make Decisions and Execute I have not been in contact with David in quite some time.  But when we last spoke, it was about his search for a holistic digital dashboard that provided a top-down view over every aspect of an advertiser’s campaign.  David has a vision for how an agency should be managed, and if you are a client I sincerely believe that you will benefit from his desire to control every aspect of the campaign – if not personally then as an agency.  A need to see how each medium correlates together into a series of results helps David determine the interaction between them.  And he is confident that those relationships can be seen and subsequently decisions can be made that will be affected by that insight.


In this article, David glosses over the utilization of site-side analytics, Coremetrics, WebSideStory, WebTrends and Omniture.  I think this is where the insight falls short.  Perhaps David is unaware of what we’re doing with first party integrations of first party ad serving and first party site-side analytics.  Other ad servers are conducting cookie synchronizations.  DoubleClick and Omniture for example is the best example that I can think of.  It’s historical and laborious.  A DoubleClick ad serving cookie and the data associated with the acquisition marketing campaign can be synchronized with the site side analytics third party cookie in the rears.  Real-time decision-making is not achieved but insight into navigation patterns, entry points that extend to the advertising campaign and placement to eCommerce patterns are measurable.


TruEffect’s patent-pending DirectServe™ offers first party cookie synchronization with the WebSideStory first party cookie.  So in fact it is real-time and is a direct pass through, and not a synchronization at all.  Poor choice of words on my part.  It is an integration of commonly-threaded technologies.  The ad serving knowledge flows through to the site side analytics engine.  Both use the clients first party cookie and so decisions are made in real-time.  Reactionary. 


So listen up David, this aspect of your challenge to the industry has already met.  And we’re working with the other companies mentioned to complete the offering across the industry.


Funny, a year ago David wrote an article entitled “Where’s My Dashboard? and I contacted him to introduce him to TruAdvertiser.xls™ the holistic ad server built within Microsoft Excel.  It integratable with accounting platforms and pulls in disparate sources of data.  We didn’t move forward together but it was a great series of conversations.  Maybe it is time for us to chat again and introduce the topic of DirectServe™.  I think that we’re doing things that he is unaware of.  Hey David, give me a call.


Reactionary with Insight.

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Going Further with Dave Morgan and the Obligation of Publishers


Going further with Dave Morgan’s January 25th, 2007 article in Media Post, “When Will We Deliver On The Promise?” brings up the obligation of publishers.  Dave quotes alarming statistics that less than 20% of ads are found to be relevant by users online in comparison to 47% of newspaper and magazine readers. 


Dave writes that “while many of the top content sites have dramatically improved in this area, far too many sites are addicted to just adding another ad unit every time that they have a new revenue opportunity… too many Web sites still look like Times Square at night: lots of crazy colored ads all shouting at once.”


So if the onus is on the publishers, let’s look at that.  Magazine and Newspaper publishers exercise some decorum with their ad sales – especially magazine ad sales.  They have spec requirements, color and style requirements.  But Web sites don’t.  There are file limitations – but that is a loose limitation that is really more so imposed by the advertiser’s ad server than by the publisher.  Lots of rich media types can be run, colors of all kinds are acceptable, animation is fair game and now there is video.  So sure it looks like Times Square.  It’s worse because its not up in the air its right in your face!


Back to relevance though.  Why has search been so effective?  Context.  Targeted advertising aims to do the same thing right?  Advertisers try to target audiences with their products.  They target verticals, demographics, geographies.  They use behavioral and event-based targeting and now the early adopters are doing customer re-targeting.  But where is the contextual advertising in display media.  How do we get that?  How do advertiser’s make their content relevant to the content that they are associating with?


Smartbanner technology is one course of action.  TruEffect has TruBanners – but that is just one example.  I put this one out there to you all for feedback on finding more.  Maybe Dave Morgan will come back to us with ideas as well (??).  A Smartbanner pulls content from another source dynamically in real-time.  So, for example when an individual enters a stock ticker symbol into a web site and the advertiser is an online broker, the banner can incorporate the stock symbol with the $10 per trade offer in real-time.  Now the ad has context and relevance to the user. 


Another example would be a user who is conducting a search on a trip from Denver to San Francisco on Expedia and an ad banner for a ticket for that route pops up from United Airlines – also a Smartbanner.  Relevance.  Context.


If more of the advertisers on web sites incorporated this kind of technology into their ads, the users would consider the ads to be more relevant and would pay more attention to them – and would probably interact with them more as well.


So how do we get advertisers to do this … well it can start with the publishers.  Publisher who offer dynamic content like stock quotes, weather forecasts, travel itineraries, recipes (man I can keep going if you want me to) can expose the dynamic string so that an advertiser can use Smartbanners.  This is not rocket science.  Publishers should be encouraging advertisers to do this.  It’s a win-win.


Contextual advertising is synonymous with search and text links but banner advertising has its rightful place too.  Reactionary with Insight.

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Car Buying Experience. Lost DirectServe Opportunity Where SmartBanners Could Hammer Home Offers to a Shopper Anywhere Online

So I have gone from being a promoter of online advertising technology to a target over the last week.  For the first time that I can recall in a long time, I succumbed to most of the applications in use meant to drive me towards specific destinations and specific actions and it all came up short.  But what I did find were great opportunities for improvement!


I have been shopping for a new car.  Dreadful experience that it is, I am one of those people who labors over it.  The problem is that I started off not knowing what kind of car to get.  My wife wants a Prius, only she’s not the one who has the drive it and after the last month of back-to-back blizzards in Denver I need something that can actually get me to work.  I am not an ignoramous, I am not looking for a gas-guzzling, high emissions-producing smog machine, but an AWD that can get through the crud and have some power to get up the mountains would be nice.  EPA in the 20s/30s.  So the crossover class seems to be my style.  Anyway, I went on the usual sites looking at cars – MSN, Edmunds, Cars.com, etc.  I was having trouble finding something I liked when I saw an ad for a cool looking car and clicked on it.  I went to the manufacturer’s site and read about the offer that had lured me in and even filled out a form to have a dealer or two contact me. 


So there it is, right there!  I joined a CRM system.  The dealer contacted me and yet had no idea how I had become a lead.  What had been the process. Didn’t know what site I had come from or what offer I had seen.  Or perhaps they did know but didn’t want to lead off with a good deal.


Anyway many of us know the statistics.  People start looking at cars and all of a sudden their surfing habits go hog-wild online as they research the heck out of a vehicle and then they show up in a show room to buy.  Needless-to-say that was not the last time that I went online to look at cars.  In fact I am two weeks into the process and I am still online looking at cars and am still kind of looking at other cars to make sure this is the one I want.  Each time I type in that crossover on one of those sites, an ad for the lease or finance offer shows up on the page, sometime something else shows up but they usually railroad it.


What am I getting at here?  I have been contacted by more than one dealership.  I have tested driven the car at two locations.  I am in a database (presumably) at both locations and I am in a database at the manufacturer.  I surf online and research that car along with others and occasionally see ads for that car or other cars from that dealer.  Where is the behavioral targeting?!?!  Where is the customer re-targeting??  They should know who I am and know things about me!  I’ve been back to the manufacturers site several times, the dealer’s site even more often looking at the inventory.  Nobody knows it’s me!!


Here is the perfect opportunity for a dealership to recognize that the reality is I am not done shopping online.  They should be keen to the likelihood that I am also probably going to be talking to other car manufacturers (I have told them as much).  Since the manufacturer who first secured me as a lead in the first place through advertising still has my information they should have, and could, have cookied me.  They could be targeting me in the future each time they encounter me and be ‘warming’ me up for the dealer.  The dealer could be enhancing my record with the manufacturer so that my customer profile is getting expanded for targeting.


Back to DirectServe – first party ad serving.  The manufacturer could be recognizing me on MSN when they advertise and could be showing me ads for the car I am tagged on whenever it’s their turn to show an ad.  I don’t mean when I research the crossover, I mean at any point that they may advertise.  How about when I look at a different car?  I can be recognized, distinguished and messaged to accordingly.  They can hit me with that crossover on Edmunds even though I had been researching it on Cars.com.  Once they have me tagged, they can focus on that car wherever they encounter me. 


If I see relevant ads while I continue to do my research it hammers home my interest in the crossover I am looking at even if I am playing around with other types of cars.  The messaging capability is powerful.


Here is another technology to know about.  TruEffect also has TruBanners.  These Smart Banners enable an advertiser to dynamically change the content of their advertisements on the fly without having to rotate ads or change out creative.  So an advertiser can run one creative and have it change the offer or dealership name depending on some targeting criteria such as geographic location or cookie value.  Think about that!  If the user carries a cookie that is associated with a specific dealer and a specific type of car and that cookie is also associated with a profile that is anonymously known as a segment associated with having had visited a dealership and test-driven a vehicle, than a very specific financing offer can be displayed in the ad that someone who does not fall into that category would not see. 


Wait, that was a really long sentence.  Try that again.  The banner can have dynamic content.  The banner can target an offer based on the cookie value of the browser.  If I am cookied as the guy interested in the Crossover in Denver who has test-driven with a dealer, I can see ads with lease offers for that dealer.  Now that is behavioral targeting, customer re-targeting and smart advertising all rolled-up into the next generation of online advertising.


Shame on the manufacturer who has paid for the online advertising, charged back the advertising to both dealerships; and shame on the dealerships who have paid for the leads.  In the end I will buy the car from the lowest bidder and may even buy it from a dealer from outside the region as I don’t care where it comes from now that I have seen it, driven it and priced it.  I never developed a relationship with anyone because nobody ever gave me a reason to do so.  None of my information ever got leveraged from my preferred way of shopping. 


The dealerships are not demanding better lead management capabilities from the manufacturers and the manufacturers are clearly not demanding better lead management from the dealerships.  They don’t communicate and are not working together to close the deals and move the inventory effectively.  In the end, I am a loosely moving buyer that is not being guided through a process that they control.  And the could have a great deal of control over that process.


Reactionary with Insight.

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