Treasuring clicks, trashing content
Matt Harty from Experian
Marketers Buy Clicks But Don’t Understand What
Clicks usually do not bring any other information with them. When the click hits the marketer’s site, the ability to value the differences (and related potential ROI) between these visitors is minimal.
Harty's proposed solution, not surprisingly, is to add another layer of Big Data intermediaries, to sell information about the users behind those clicks. This one will fix it for sure, right? But does online advertising have to be just a matter of piling up more and more layers of companies selling expensive math and sneakily-acquired PII?
If only there were something that you could attach an
ad to, some work that people
who were interested in a certain topic would naturally
see as valuable and want to spend time with. Something that would
make an ad pay its own way, by sending the message, as Kevin Simler put
Here an ad conveys valuable information simply
Yes, paying for something valuable to run the ad on would cost money, but that's part of how advertising really works. Advertising done right pays its way by carrying a signal to prospective buyers, one that they have an incentive to receive and process, not block. Simler also points out a kind of meta-signaling, or "cultural imprinting." When a brand establishes itself, it helps its customers send their own signals.
[B]rands carve out a relatively narrow slice of brand-identity space and occupy it for decades. And the cultural imprinting model explains why. Brands need to be relatively stable and put on a consistent "face" because they're used by consumers to send social messages, and if the brand makes too many different associations, (1) it dilutes the message that any one person might want to send, and (2) it makes people uncomfortable about associating themselves with a brand that jumps all over the place, firing different brand messages like a loose cannon.
Advertising isn't just a game of spam vs. spam filter, popup vs. popup blocker, and cookie vs. Privacy Badger. There's more to it than that, or there can be.
Meanwhile, Bob Hoffman writes,
Content is everything, and it's nothing. It's an artificial word thrown around by people who know nothing, describing nothing.
Good point. The audience's perception of how much it cost to place an ad is the way that the ad acquires its signaling power. The ad-supported resource, whether it's a TV show, an article with photos, or a story, amplifies the ad by its quality and apparent cost.
A famous byline on a magazine cover increases the
magazine's reputation, which increases the signaling
power of the ads inside, which makes ad space more
valuable. Get a reputation for paying well, get
more money from advertisers, and so on. Do it right
and the more you pay people, the more advertisers
pay you, the more you can pay people. (This is the
positive feedback loop that pro sports is in.
And not only is the sports audience not
product being sold, the audience is paying
to be advertised to.)
Signaling through quality editorial product is the opportunity that online advertising is thowing away, by programmatically buying ad units attatched to crappy, infringing, or outright fraudulent "content". Somehow, people have gotten the idea that math matters, user data matters, but "content" doesn't.
Malvertising Campaign Employs the
Nuclear Option on
last week by the Zedo advertising network, redirected
victims to the Nuclear exploit kit which (under the
right circumstances) delivered a punishing series of
infections onto PCs.
The brand you've gradually grown to trust over
the course of three generations.