It’s about people

It’s about people

: Steve Hall reports today that some of the biggest advertisers are getting together today to discuss new methods of TV measurement — measuring the audience for ads instead of programs.

This is actually a big deal and it’s the way the advertising industry is going.

I spent many tortured months on the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) committee that was setting standards for online measurement. At first, they tried to mimic the way measurement has always been done in big media: How big is a web site? How many page views does it get? How big is its audience?

But it turned out that hardly any advertiers wanted those “site audits” (and thus hardly any site owners wanted to pay for them). Instead, advertisers wanted “flight audits,” they wanted to verify that they got what they paid for in terms of audience to their ads. This makes sense.

Now TV is doing the same thing. But it’s about more than just auditing numbers. It’s about how advertising will be bought and sold — how they will market to us — in the future. And that, I believe, will be all about ad hoc networks of people rather than content.

It’s what I’ve been saying will make advertising work in this blog world: You can buy a network of people who care about food because they read (or write) food blogs or posts. Or you can buy a network of friends, the people who link to each other. And so on….

The same is true of online in general: Rather than buying advertising by content adjacency (e.g., tire ads in sports sections), it’s much better to buy advertising by consumer attention. If you are in the market for tires, then you want advertising giving you the best price. Yesterday’s study of Internet soccer moms said they welcome and seek out advertising when it is relevant to them personally.

I was talking to a cable network exec yesterday and said the same thing will be happening in TV in a digital age: They’ll sell a travel advertiser, for example, just east coast audience across multiple networks — news, sports, entertainment — rather than necessarily having to start a travel channel to get travel advertising.

That was the misplaced assumption of a world with more channels: Media would have to create new targeted content to get targeted advertising and then would have to advertise that target to get anyone to see it. That’s how the Internet started off. But when you turn your attention from buying content to marketing to consumers, all that changes.

So the network is redefined. It’s not a network of content. It’s a network of people. And really hasn’t that always been the holy grail of advertising: It’s about us, the consumers, the people.

: UPDATES: The VCs chime in. See Ed Sim here. And Fred Wilson here.