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The Internet Is Taking Over, But Many Fear It Has Left The Ads Behind

A wave of articles are coming out marketing the value of more intrusive web advertising.  To wit:

tvadsweb-067x067Here Come TV Commercials Between Web Pages (TRI)

“…ShortTail Media is testing a new ad unit that allows publishers to insert 15- and 30-second video ads between pages on their sites. Reuters has already signed up for a beta test this summer. and The Weather Channel are close to joining in, reports AdWeek.…”


“If all this sounds like it will hamper the user exeperience, then too bad, says ShortTail Media CEO David Payne.

In a speech at the Advertising Bureu’s(sic – Cogmap editor) annual meeting, writes AdWeek, Payne told publishers they needed ‘ to adopt bigger, bolder creative and to be less sensitive to user experience.'”

Pretty enlightened, huh?

MediaPost releases an editorial from the creative director of PointRoll the next day and his message is:

“We’ve got this great new medium. Let’s start using it to its full advantage. Little rectangles and squares, many of which appear on the same page at the same time all vying for audience attention, are never going to compete on value with television commercials and large, splashy print and outdoor advertisements.”

Martin is a little better balanced.

There was a recent article in the New York Times about how Wired, the print magazine, is crashing and burning.  One of the points they make is that Wired, the print magazine, has less than a million readers, while the on-line version has more than 11 million readers and makes less money.

Is the answer a worse user experience, as implied by David Payne?  Or is it something else, as implied by Martin Betoni of Pointroll?  Looking at this tiny set of data, the answer could be both:

  • One solution could be more intrusive ads.  If ads that truly wrecked the user experience were introduced, maybe they only have 1 million web site users a month, but the web site is now a going concern.
  • Another solution could be smaller changes that avoid significantly impacting the user experience.  Looking at these numbers, you only have to deliver 1/10th the value per user to generate the same revenue.  (Of course, Wired is losing gobs of money, so maybe that doesn’t get you there.

I will say this:  The “remnant business” fits in here somewhere.  Not sure where, but somewhere.  Here are a few facts:

  • There are more web pages being viewed every day (supply is increasing)
  • Of those web pages, 20-40% are sold for premium prices (~$20 cpms), and 60-80% are sold as “remnant” (~$1.00 cpms)

More intrusive ads may have the twin benefit of decreasing supply (making people hate the web) and increasing premium sales, resulting in far higher sell through rates, but that doesn’t seem like the optimal use of the internet as a resource.

An analysis more in-line with the current evolution of Internet demand would imply that pricing needs to be more elastic, implying the use of exchanges.  The challenge with exchanges is that they work best when inventory is commoditized.  Custom advertising experiences are difficult to sell in an on-demand exchange context.

Where am I going with this?  Not sure.  But I am pretty sure that no one wins when people start saying “we should make the user experience worse.”  I am excited to watch the Internet evolve, but if I have to watch a 30-second interstitial to see it, I am going to unplug.

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