September 28, 2009

Is online advertising strangling itself or is it becoming something brilliant?

Over the weekend, Matt sent around a link to a great piece on Techcrunch called Let’s Kill the CPM written by Shelby Bonnie, CEO of Whiskey Media

His remarks about the meaningless nature of pure ad impressions reflect thoughts mentioned on this blog and others over the last few years but what caught my attention was his observations around the detrimental effect that CPM models have on creative advertising online: essentially, if the client wants impressions for their product then people can stick a basic ad out there and book as much inventory as they can afford and report a number back to the client that ends in the word ‘million’. Shelby rightly points out that more creative adverts can get a higher level of engagement and so return better results for the client.

On facebook over the last week I’ve been doing some weeding of the ads down the side- giving feedback on ads that are irrelevant/repetitive/misleading in the hope that the ads shown down the side will become more relevant for me (my status says I’m married… I really don’t want to meet singles in my area!) The coverage earlier in the year around Behavioural Targeting depicted a terrifying online world where I might be shown ads that were relevant to me, rather than being splattered from all sides with random offers and suggestions- almost like the junk mail that comes through my door trying to sell me stairlifts and shares in racehorses. Logging back on to Facebook yesterday evening I was served an ad for small washbasins (all of which were 45cm wide or narrower) This was brilliant. This really pleased me. They were also at a really good price. I’ll probably buy one today. And I’m not even being sarcastic- I’m in the process of renovating a house, we need a narrow sink and I’d been looking at them earlier in the day to get an idea of price to discuss with my wife. On my next visit to Facebook, via a supplier called Criteo the same company then advertised to me the exact items I had been looking at and this reminded me that I needed to buy one. This wasn’t creative, but it was spot-on and I only hope more adverts come to me in that same way. If they can’t, then I hope people heed the suggestions of Shelby: move away from CPM and let’s get better creative to work for clients and give tangible results.