Adam Symson, EVP of Interactive at E.W. Scripps Television Group kicked off the Digital Non-Conference Conference with a presentation themed “Think Profitably, Act Locally”. The theme of the presentation – essentially local targeting is more valuable – was obvious from the start, but Adam provided some interesting insights into the issues with online advertising and what the future may hold.
Quality vs. Quantity in Online Buying
Online advertising has a number of issues, one of the largest being effectiveness. “It’s like quality branding went out the window and brand associations aren’t important”, said Adam, commenting on the impact of ad networks, “It is like efficiency has taken precedence over quality”.
The basic issue is that ad agencies often sell ad space on a large # of publications, and advertisers lose control over where their ads are placed. When advertising on a large # of small publications it is difficult to know exactly what content your ad will appear next to. So why do advertisers do it? Because it is cheap. CMPs for advertising with ad networks are often much cheaper than on local targeted websites. You get what you pay for. Ad networks are degrading online advertising because the ads aren’t targeted. The client does know what they are going to get.
Adam used an interesting analogy when comparing ad network buys to local media buys. If you went grocery shopping at the Dollar Store you could probably get enough “food” type products to sustain yourself for significantly less than a grocery store. However, you won’t be getting the same quality of food – you get what you pay for. Can you guess which is the ad agency and which is the local media site?
There is no doubt that this is an issue – monetization of long-tail content was also brought up as an issue at ad:tech in New York. A part of the question (which was not addressed in the session) is how can we better build efficiencies and leverage technologies to remove the quality issues in the long-tail publications.
“There is an undercurrent in the ad industry that if the ad runs is more important than where it runs”. Well put. Measures for online such as CPM and CPC don’t do the best job in assessing the quality of an impression.
Media Consumption is Moving Online
Adam shared some interesting view points that are important for advertisers and marketers as consumers flock to the internet for media consumption (especially news, which was the focus of the presentation).
- 44% of college graduates get their news online every day
- 40% fewer people are watching news on cable
- Other media (TV programs, movies, radio, music) are also increasingly consumed online.
- Online consumption is growing and will continue to grow.
Return to the Roots of Marketing
The internet and the ability to measure things like clicks and actions changed the way that marketers think about advertising. In focusing on metrics like clicks and search marketers seem less focused on branding, equity, awareness and impressions. An impression is still an impression. A click campaign is essentially a lead generation campaign. There is a time and place for both types of campaigns.
Search also continues to grow in popularity among marketers with 40% of online dollars going towards it. Some companies report spending their entire online budget on search. While search is important it is 1 component of the marketing mix, like out of home, direct mail or television. How do you run a successful branding campaign with only search? It is one part of the marketing mix but not the be all and end all of online.
People want interactivity in their media consumption – they want to consume media when, where and how they choose. They want to be able to share media with their friends freely across the net. Media is now ad supported directly in the medium (ie. ads that go with the video) so that the content is both sharable and monetizable.
The future lies in niche sites – which cost more but can deliver more relevant impressions. Additionally, sites need to leverage multiple touchpoints and types of media (video, microsites, etc.) to better engage consumers and not rely on banner ads. Ad networks need accountability in their metrics to return to quality in digital online.
What do You Think?
So what do you think? Are ad networks degrading quality in online advertising? Is search getting more attention than it deserves?
(you can also see what Steve Phillips had to say on this at his blog here.)