Ad Networks

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.

overflight no2

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Comments

2 Responses to “Ad Networks”

  1. Elizabeth Adams on November 30th, 2008 7:11 pm

    Hello, Stephen …

    You wrote, “My view is that if a Web site offers content, the Web indexing systems will find you.”

    I agree.

    The mystery is why there is so much resistance to the idea of putting informative content on one’s website.

    The way it used to be, you know, in “pre-Internet” days, if you had a “brick-and-mortar” business, you paid for an ad and the result was more people coming into your store.

    This worked “back then” because, at that time, advertisers and sales reps were the ones in control of the information about products and services.

    But now, you see, that’s not the case.

    Any teenager can get online these days and find out how to shave with acne … any nursing mother can find out how to stop breastfeeding … the unemployed can find jobs … and so on.

    They don’t need advertisers and sales reps anymore!

    Not to find out things, anyway.

    They might need a little assistance at the very end of their search when they’re ready to actually order the product they’ve selected for themselves; but, other than that, they have no use for advertisers and sales reps.

    They will ignore banner ads.

    And they will further insulate themselves from all attempts to put advertising in front of them by building little bubbles around themselves and only inviting in those of like mind.

    So if advertisers and sales reps want to increase web site traffic and — which is probably more to the point — make more sales, then they’re going to have to leave the old-time “location-location-location” mentality behind and embrace the new-age reality of “information-information-information.”

    They are going to have to learn, in other words, how to create helpful, useful information about the *subject* not the *object* … about how to solve a problem people have, not just shove a product in their face.

    This comes hard for advertisers and sales reps!

    One SEO specialist over in Ireland, Henry Okpolokpo, came to these realizations several months ago and began building a theme-based, content-rich site having to do with lead generation.

    http://www.lead-generation-tactics.com

    It was originally intended as a demonstration to his SEO clients of how effective content can be in attracting web site traffic, but now it has taken on a life of its own and skyrocketed up the Alexa rankings to 654,209 !!! In just two short months !!!

    Amazing.

    But the real benefit comes in the form of all the different ways in which people are finding his site … all the different “keywords” they’re typing in which lead them straight to him, courtesy of Google, Yahoo, MSN and all the other search engines !!!

    He’s got the most powerful “advertising agencies” in the world harnessed to his marketing chariot …

    For free !!!

    Now, Stephen, I don’t know what *you* call that, but *I* call it using your head. I call it facing up to the fact that “advertisers” are out and “content providers” are in, so let’s all get with the program and adjust our business models accordingly.

    Best Regards …

    Elizabeth

    P.S.

    I love your new technical analyst !!!

    :)

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on December 1st, 2008 5:39 am

    Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your comment. I prefer content as the work horse. The effort put into spoofing relevance algorithms strikes me as a displacement exercise, not real work. My assistant will adore anyone. She lacks the ability to discriminate since her rescue by the addled geese here in Harrods Creek, Kentucky.

    Stephen Arnold, December 1, 2008