Posts about Ad

Exploding advertising

The rest of media is exploding. I’ve been arguing that the advertising business is next. And, in fact, the lack of courageous innovation in advertising is holding back development in the rest of media. For example, advertisers still feel safer buying print even though all the audience growth is online, which means they’re still paying too much for too little. It’s a painful syncopation.

But some in the ad biz get it and one who does is Rishad Tobaccowala of Publicis, who was the company’s chief innovation officer and today announced he’s starting a new company inside the ad giant to seek out and jumpstart innovation, to consult to advertisers and media companies, and even to invest — with advice capital — in startups like Brightcove. Here’s a Journal story about the company, called Denuo, and here’s a Rishad interview. (Full disclosures: I’ve become personal friends with one of the media thinkers in Rishad’s tank, Tom Tercek, and I’ve made blogboy spiels and business introductions for them — without financial gain, silly me.)

Here’s what I think this means from the outside: Rishad has always been a great thinker and a great talker but it’s not easy making change happen just by cajoling within an organization. You have to do it. I hope they manage to make change. We need it.

Edgeio and the distributed world

I got a preview of Michael Arrington’s Edgeio — the classified system for the distributed future — and I think it is more important than it looks.

Edgeio as it stands is pretty simple: You tag a post on your blog “listing” and Edgeio will spot it and add it to its data base. You add more tags (e.g., “for rent” and “vacation”) and your post/ad will appear in the appropriate categories. Edgeio will allow you to come in and claim your blog to be able to get direct communication from respondents and, eventually, to upgrade your ad via typography and graphics and preference (I hope I got that right). This is just a start but it is a proof of concept of a new world. I’ve been waiting for someone to do this. Arrington has.

I’ve been writing for a long time that the future of classified advertising — and more of media — is distributed. That is, you won’t need to go to a centralized marketplace — the newspaper or even Craigslist or Monster — to let the world know you want to sell or buy or find something. Instead, you’ll be able to put your listing up anywhere with proper tags and then specialized search engines, like Edgeio and Oodle, will find them so buyer and seller can find each other in a distributed marketplace with far less friction and far more control at the edges.

Note well that Arrington is also setting the early standards for tagging ads so they can be found. I believe that he also needs to concentrate on putting data within ads, not just on top of them (e.g., “languages spoken = German, C++”) so more effective searches and matches can take place. Google Base may do this, but for it to be effective, the tags need to be open. What we’re really headed for is microformats and a structure in which people swarm around tags with efficiency so they and their stuff can be found. It works in Flickr and and will certainly work in marketplaces where money matters.

As friction is taken out of the marketplace — as newspapers, Realtors, car dealers, eBay, and others who have controlled our information are undercut by free and open standards — there is a need to add value back into transactions. Craig Donato of Oodle — the other Craig, the one who will cause more change in the newspaper industry than the first one — is eloquent on this, pointing out that the marketplace still wants such things as anonymity to enable transactions and authority to vet ads and promotion to market them. Edgeio and Oodle — not to mention Indeed and Simply Hired and even eBay and many other comers — will try to add back some of these functions. I argued the other day that we will also need some physical-world functions, like concierges to handle house tours for far less than real-estate agents charge (cue defense wailing by Realtors here.)

: OK, but this is bigger than classifieds. It’s bigger in two ways:

: First, this is really about control. Realtors and multiple-listing services act as if they own our for-sale listings. But the truth is, that’s our information; it’s data we create and we own that we lend to these agents if they perform a service for us (or because they hold a monopoly on that service today).

I was talking about this with Seth Goldstein of AttentionTrust and Rootmarkets the other day: We own not just our attention data — what we look at, what we do, the things that Seth works in — but also have an even greater proprietary interest in the transactions we create. This holds if we are a prospect to buy a house and if we are selling a house.

The natural state of the marketplace should be that we control that information at the edges — buyer and seller — and that others join in that transaction only when and if they add value, such as the functions I listed just above. This will make for less friction and a more efficient marketplace.

It will also make for a lot of unemployed middlemen. The newspapers and Realtors that charged us too much for too little for too long will be knocked aside at the first opportunity.

: Second, this is also about content … and about people. Everything Edgeio does for classified ads, it — or someone — could do for, say, local restaurant reviews. Rather than relying on one restaurant critic for a paper to tell us what’s good and rather than trying to get all the diners out there to come to a centralized marketplace of reviews (see the late Abuzz et al), we should be able to write our reviews on our blogs, under our identities, and have them found with all the other reviews. That can occur thanks to tagging. This is what I hoped (incorrectly) that Dinnerbuzz would do, though I explained my wishes here.

It’s about people because identity matters: We want to know who is reviewing the restaurant or selling the house or seeeking the job. Verified identity and trust, I believe, will be the next huge frontier of business online. More on that later.

And it’s about people because such means of tagging and searching as Edgeio enables will also help people find each other. I wrote about this long ago, inspired by David Galbraith’s one-line-bio tag. See also, where people tag themselves.

See, this tagging thing is about more than bookmarks and coolness. They help reorganize the world and its relationships.

That’s why I say that Edgeio is a big deal, because it begins to enable this new world.

: A few of my posts are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here….

: [DISCLOSURE: Michael Arrington and I are each aiding a startup. I gave him my two-cents about Edgeio. He once gave me a Techcrunch T-shirt. We link to each other. He held a spot for me at the lunch table at Web 2.0 And aren’t these disclosure statements getting a bit ridiculous?]

: SPEAKING OF TECHCRUNCH: I see that Arrington will critique presentations by 10 companies at Supernova.

: LATER: Note good comments, including one from none other than Craig Newmark.

Don’t read and drive

Treonauts reports that BMW’s latest clever marketing move — after making movies — is releasing free audiobooks. It’s a very good and creative ad idea. However, since I consider BMW drivers probably the most obnoxious on the road, I hope the stories aren’t too distracting.

The new, improved, super, duper Dave!

Dave Winer says he was tempted to buy the advertising on Rocketboom. Damn, I wish he’d won. I would love to see a commercial advertising Dave… You get blogs and podcasts and RSS. But wait, call now and he’ll throw in OPML!…

Now play with this idea…. What if you made your own infomercial advertising you? If we’re all brands then don’t we need branding? How would I advertise me (insert punchline about that being the last thing the world needs)? How would you advertise me? How would I advertise you? What if that became a real mark of social networking: You advertise your real friends….

Congratulations, Rocketboom

So Rocketboom’s ad auction came off with a rather obscure advertiser — TRM, an ATM and photocopy vending company — getting the privilege to be the first to promote on the hottest vlog … and to get free publicity because of it. Good for TRM and good for Rocketboom, valuing a week’s worth of commercials at $40,000 (and good for me not being made a liar predicting in The New York Times that they would be worth a high CPM).

But this is bad for big ad agencies and big advertisers who missed this boat bigtime. I’m not talking about any specific brand or company (disclosure: I know of some advertisers but I’m not talking about them; I’m talking about the ones that didn’t even have the courage to try). They should have been falling over themselves to grab this unique bargain. And they should be slinking off with their long tails between their legs now. Advertisers constantly whine that they want to do something new, but when something new comes along, they freeze because they can’t fit the new thing into their definitions of old and safe.

And here we have in a microcosm the explanation of why media is so horribly out of sync today: The public is valuing new media much more than the old, but the advertisers still value the old. Most every newspaper and in many cases TV networks and magazines have much larger audiences online, but the revenue for their old media properties remains much higher because the advertisers and agencies still value the old and the safe. They want metrics. They want control. They want guarantees. This, in turn, makes big publishers and producers play it safe because they don’t want to mess with the cash cow. And that means that advertisers miss the opportunity to reach a larger, younger, smarter audience in the new medium, which is — supposedly — what they’re dying to do. And that means that big media companies now face competition from a thousand Rocketbooms and a million Gawkers. That allows a TRM to come along and snatch away an opportunity from the big, lumbering giants. That is why small is the new big. Small be nimble, small be quick, small jumped over the conglomerates.

Or let me summarize the problem in one word. Big advertisers and big agencies are chickenshit. They need to grow some balls or else they’ll find new competitors running circles around them. The explosion — the rocketboom — that has already come to newspapers, magazines, TV networks, the music industry is coming next to the ad business.

Please take this, advertisers, as a friendly kick in the pants.


Mediapost updates us on the Rocketboom ad auction. I like Henry Copeland‘s quotes:

BlogAds founder Henry Copeland, whose firm bid on the ad space but dropped out when the bidding topped $12,000, said the inventory’s value might be worth as much as $50,000. “Being the first advertiser on a cult show like this, with the ads actually being produced with Amanda, assuming that is the case, is worth a lot more than $15,000,” he said, referring to Rocketboom star Amanda Congdon. “An anal-retentive media buyer will get focused on the difficulty of verifying the viewership numbers, how many of the downloads are actually watched–and miss the novelty value and cult status of the show.”

Copeland said it was not surprising that the bidding had not yet reached the higher valuations, and that the top bidders are not big-name brands. “A decision to spend takes way too long to make it through the bowels of the decision-making process,” he said. “And a lot of buyers are going to have trouble with Rocketboom having creative control over the ads.”

Baron also said that Rocketboom used eBay because conventional ad sellers moved too slowly. “We tried to go with ad sellers, but it was taking too long and our deadlines were never met,” he said. “We kept hearing that it was taking too much time for the advertisers and everyone else to understand how it could work.”

Going once….

Next week, Rocketboom is going to auction off its advertising on eBay and force the winning advertisers to let Rocketboom make the ads. 99.999 percent of media buyers won’t get this. But somebody will be cool enough to try.

So blogs will have overnight ratings and cumes

Fred Wilson reports that Intelliseek merges with Buzzmetrics and takes a majority investment from VNU Nielsen (which is, in turn, the subject of a takeover bid). To me, this means that measuring blogs and distributed media will matter more and more to advertisers and there will be a growing market for such analytics. It also is another indication of the big changes coming to the mix of ad dollars. Yes, we are ready for prime time.