Spammy Ads

In a recent Publishing 2.0 blog post “Why Traditional Advertising Formats Fail on the Web,” Scott Karp attributes this demise to the fact that people have no patience for display ads, as they did in traditional media, where consumers were used to looking at print ads or watching TV commercials. Scott believes that display ads are basically no more than “spam” to most users.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Scott’s conclusion about the fact that display ads can often be “spammy.” To me, the term “spam” means to be forced to view messages which are sent to me, regardless of whether I want to see them or not (ie, being blasted with untargeted, irrelevant messaging). Heck, like everyone else, I often ignore ads that appear to have no relevance to me. However, I think this problem has more to do with ineffective targeting of messages rather than the inherent nature of the Internet.

Unfortunately, many advertisers just throw together one-message-fits-all ads instead of taking the time to focus on their audience. Advertisers who aren’t familiar with state-of-the-art technology often assume that they have no ability to target their messaging instantly to a consumer and rely on the more static ads that often have no relevance to the consumer, with the hope that someone will find it interesting. Isn’t that basically the definition of spam? And, is it any surprise that these ads are then ignored?

As more traditional publications continue to move online and/or beef up their content for the online channel, many are facing the challenge of how to keep that information relevant in such a dynamic environment. As readers of this blog know, IP Intelligence solutions can help publishers not only make that transition more smoothly, but also monetize the transition in ways that positively affect their bottom lines.

It’s all about delivering content that’s relevant to readers – but delivered when they want it and how they want it. IP Intelligence helps publishers in the e-media landscape:

* Localize content
* Serve targeted advertising instantly, without bugging the consumer for information
* Support offline sales
* Improve brand awareness

It’s not all about how Internet is changing publishing, but it’s also how publishing is bringing some tried and true methods to change the online landscape. Take for example, the online channel: Companies were initially caught up in the vast global opportunities afforded with the Internet – so who needed geographic boundaries, right? It sounded great on paper. However, in reality, geography plays a very important role in the publishing business in the offline world-and it does so in the online world as well. After all, people are people, regardless of whether they happen to be surfing the web or reading a magazine.

For example, Southern Living does a good job at targeting its supplements (i.e. based on whether you live in Florida, Georgia, etc.) in the magazine. However, they need to transition that same thinking to the online channel where they can not only deliver local content, but also serve local ads, making any site instantly both regional as well as national at the same time.

So, I would argue that it’s not necessarily the medium (the real world versus the virtual world) that creates different behavior among consumers, but instead, it’s the failure to take advantage of the targeting ability that is now possible in the virtual world.

It’s an advertiser’s responsibility to create relevant advertisements for consumers. Advertisers and publishers that fail to keep up with targeting possibilities (ie, serving “spammy” display ads) will find themselves in an unenviable place of being irrelevant and ignored, while advertisers and publishers who understand the power of the targeting technology will thrive.

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