November 30, 2008
The Overflight technology here sparked some inquiries from companies in the ad network business. I never pay much attention to online advertising. My view is that if a Web site offers content, the Web indexing systems will find you. A good example is the Overflight service announced on November 17, 2008. On November 18, the site was not in the Google index. By November 20, 2008, the Overflight site ranked sixth in the results list for the word Overflight. As I write this before getting on a flight to Europe, the Overflight sight ranking in the results list for the query “overflight” is number two. No metatag spamming, no SEO baloney, no nothing. We index content and provide what seems to me to be a useful service. We are now adding some other features to the public facing Web site. The most interesting will be the use of the Exalead CloudView technology. This is a joint effort between my technically challenged goslings and the French wizards at Exalead. Watch for the announcement shortly. The service is in final testing and looks quite good so far.
But the ad network calls to me put me in unfamiliar territory. I have researched Google’s AdSense, which makes use of the Oingo (Applied Semantics) technology plus many Google inventions, enhancements, and tweaks. My focus on AdSense and its sister AdWords created for me a volcanic island of information. I thought that Google * was * online advertising.
The yellow box marks the Overflight result on November 29, 2008.
After a bit of research Google is not the only game in town. Sure, there are the Microsoft and Yahoo services that I know by name. A bit of sleuthing turned up a large number of outfits who are in the business of selling ads to companies wanting to reach online users. One of them is the AutoChannel.com, a company with which I have been associated for years. Because of the volume of traffic, the Auto Channel gets, I saw its name as a place where companies wanting to reach auto enthusiasts could advertise. You can learn more about this directly from the company. Just navigate here for the media kit.
I located on the Web logs at ZDNet here a useful list here of what the company calls “Top 50 US Ad Carriers in October 2008.” The usual suspects appear on this list, but there were many firms whose names I did not recognize. I clicked on about a dozen of the top ranked firms and learned that each provides a wide range of services both the high traffic Web sites looking to generate revenue and to advertisers who want to place messages on sites germane to their core markets. I can’t reproduce this list, but I think I can give you a flavor of the diversity of firms in this sector. Here are three companies I found interesting, but your taste is likely to be different from this goose’s:
- CPX Interactive says that it is “a progressive online ad network and global marketing company.” The network is a collection of sites whose space CPX Interactive sells. The company says, “Advertisers leverage the network to receive optimized global reach at dynamically efficient pricing, while Publishers realize the benefit of a 100% inventory fill philosophy. The ad network serves more than 27 billion global impressions to over 200 million unique users across more than 6,000 publisher Web sites every month.” The angle for the company is that it is focused on change; that is, the latest and greatest methods. You can find out more about the company here.
- Undertone Networks emphasizes the notion of interactive ad campaigns. The idea is that the company can get potential buyers involved which leads to more sales. What I found interesting was that the company has introduced a money back guarantee. The firm offer behavior targeting. I did not poke into how this works because I did not want to find a system or method that might cause me to veer into topics not germane to this Web log. You can find out here.
- Tatto Media offers what it calls “smart behavioral advertising.” The company’s Web site made it easy for me to get an overview of the firm’s services. The company says that it is ranked in the Top 40 by comScore which translates to three billion impressions monthly. You can find out more about Tatto here.What’s this have to do with search?
The ad business is a big one. This tells me several things:
First, most Web site owners don’t get enough traffic to make their Web sites much more than the digital equivalent of the elf figurines my mother once collected. No one pays much attention to little figurines and no one pays much attention to most Web sites. Advertising exists to generate traffic. Period.
Second, the interest in SEO is a no go zone. Most Web sites lack substantive, thematically consistent content. So the Web marketing manager tries some SEO techniques, maybe pays the fees which can range up to $5,000 per month or higher, and then goes back to online ads. Content is really tough for most organizations to produce. If a Web site has content and a lousy implementation, the user gives up on the site. It is simply better, faster, and cheaper to buy ads and direct users to a specific landing page. Even a lousy Web site can determine how many clicks went to a specific Web page. Connect the dots: ad dollars to landing page yields a way to measure an online ad campaign. SEO actions may or may not work. Ads at least work to some extent and don’t get a Web site removed from the Google index as long as the advertiser exercises some judgment.
Third, “big names” in advertising don’t appear on this list or in the results lists I generated when trying to fill in the hole in my information about online advertising. Why? I don’t think the big agencies are in a position to shift their business model. In a way, these outfits are anchored in the world of traditional television, radio, and print advertising. The online ad space is too fuzzy, volatile, and really not oriented to junkets to Hawaii to shoot commercials on the beach at Waikiki. The PR firms want to do campaigns which are expensive but not too exciting unless the effort is global, crisis oriented, and involves junkets to Waikiki. My hunch is that traditional ad agencies, like print publishers, broadcast TV, and traditional motion picture studios are going to find themselves riding a business model into the rocks at sunset. Forget wipe out. Think pulpified landshark; that is, out of the game, in pain, and ready for intensive care.
To wrap up, with a declining economy, desperation about Web site traffic will ratchet upwards. SEO will boom, but I think think the online ad business will benefit as well. Does this mean that the Web is turning into one big ad-o-rama like late night cable TV in the US?
Yep. Faster rather than slower. More jazz, less substance too.
What about Web search? I am not too optimistic at the moment.
Stephen Arnold, November 30, 2008