Behavioural Targeting? Who Really Wins

28 May, 2008

Targeting the ConsumerAt AdViking towers, we mull things over. Sometimes things that look really good on paper – perhaps too good to be true – can be wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

Take behavioural targeting as an example. In principle, a sound idea – the more you know about the user, the more you can target ads at them. This can improve quality for both the user and the advertiser, which can increase the value of the communication… all fine, then.

“It Doesn’t Work Like That”

However, in recent conversations with two ad networks who major on profiling… Adviva and Tacoda… something is emerging that requires a little more scrutiny. Their detailed profiling of customers doesn’t seem in an effort to increase the value to the publisher – but to further increase margin on sale.

Do the ‘Math’

Let’s say we have publisher A who usually sells at £0.70 CPM for media on his site. The advertiser currently pays £1.50 CPM to their agency (as the agency takes a slice, the ad network takes a cut).

However, with profiling, the ad network can raise the revenue to £2.00-3.00 (and possibly more) CPM – which is great… but for whom. In most cases the publisher is actually getting their sell on reduced – to as little as £0.45 CPM. If the agency takes a standard slice, then who’s really benefitting?

We would be interested in hearing how the alleged improvements in profiling and targeting are going to benefit the publisher because from what we can see, it actually negates the value of the publisher entirely. The message seems to be: “we know what the customer is interested in – so we don’t place any value on the space on your site”.

So, in this industry, ownership of the most attractive profiling is key… until, of course, the various personal data security concerns are aired and shared in the House of Commons. Perhaps the next wave of advertising is going to be defined by government policy rather than technology? We’re watching the forthcoming debate in the US and UK with interest.


Vertical Zoom – First Impressions are Often Right and Local Search Summit

22 May, 2008

AdViking has now had time to mull over first impressions from the International Classifieds Media Association General Meeting in Brussels last week and has decided that those first thoughts written in the early morning while waiting to board a flight back to the UK were pretty spot on.

Saying that, AdViking does want to also suggest that you have a look at LocalOnliner.  Especially as Peter has some interesting thoughts and was coming to Brussels on the back of Kelsey’s Drilling Down on Local conference, including sharing some of the musings of the Don of Vertical, Rich Barton.

Which reminds AdViking that it’s less than a week until the Local Search Summit in Oslo.  This is an invite-only session between various non-competitive Publishers who are at different stages of deploying a Local Search strategy.  The agenda is packed for two days of knowledge sharing, networking and blue sky thinking and should finish off the Vertical Zoom nicely.

Microsoft Launches New Advertising Brand

20 May, 2008

Microsoft has launched a new brand today – Microsoft Advertising – this combines MDAS (MS Digital Advertising Services), APS (Advertiser & Publishers Solutions – which included most of the aQuantive assets) and adCenter (the MS competitor to AdWords) under one global brand. The new logo and branding is pretty cool (well at least it is better than the old fragmented brand) and is getting its first real public test as part the Microsoft Advance conference that is also happening this week.

This launch is particularly interesting to note in conjunction with some specifics that are emerging with the MSFT global $300 million brand makeover … There is also a big push into mobile ads as well that was announced yesterday.

[Note: a couple of us who write for this blog work for Microsoft.]

Vertical Zoom – Early (morning) Thoughts from ICMA

16 May, 2008

Some of AdViking’s first thoughts from the ICMA General Meeting in Brussels.

The Publishers as a whole get that Print is in decline, Online is growing and they need to ramp up their online strategies. Though, AdViking is sure they would love to have the growth in Print that India enjoys!

Only a few, seem to understand that a good Monetisation strategy is fundamental to their success and now’s the time to do it. A lot less questions than the B2B folks about why don’t I just partner with Google and that’s my online strategy.

It’s a mixed bag on those Publishers who also get that Search is critical. Which is strange if you think that for Classifieds, how can they be anything but Search (even if they have put together a taxonomy driven approach – that’s still Search).

The future is about vertical, niche sites that share an underlying common platform (e.g.: Search).

In general, everyone is a bit brow beaten by the success of Schibsted and are looking for someone else to proof out what the Norwegians are saying.

It’s not a huge jump anymore for the Publishers to think about joining forces with non-competitive Publishers in their markets to band together for some sort of network play.

Phrase capture: Monetisation is fundamental. Mapping is Key. Some believe they are in the position to mimic Directories and become SEMs to their advertisers. MOBILE is key – especially for untethered countries (e.g.: India) – though no-one gave truly compelling reasons to accept the channel.

Tag capture: Synergies for assets. Utilise high performing. Explore under performing.

All in all, a much more upbeat and dynamic event compared to the B2B one. Go get them Classifieds.

Vertical Zoom – Traditional Publishers Announce B2B Ad Network

13 May, 2008

Zoom on Verticals

AdViking is having a month of zooming down on various verticals* and naturally a side effect has been the tracking of relevant items. Which is why AdViking just came across the news that another ad network has been launched.

BBN (Business-to-Business Network) is going to be run by WPP’s 24/7 Real Media on behalf of traditional B2B publishers: Cygnus Business Media, Nielsen Business Media, Reed Business Information and McGraw-Hill. Only numbers being touted is the network will have a reach of 10 million unique visitors a month.

Why it’s interesting:

  • It’s now safe to say that the indy ad network is the new black has jumped the shark but AdViking still believes there is more to come, e.g.: The major US leading verticals (i.e.:, and should band together to create something very powerful.
  • Like, quadrantONE, the ad network created by newspaper co’s: Gannett Co., Hearst Corp., the New York Times Co. and Tribune Co, this is cool because we’re finally seeing traditional publishers start making some serious moves to protect their futures.

What doesn’t seem to be so great:

It appears that the network will only be for display advertising, which doesn’t really lend itself to a typical B2B advertiser. It is stated though that the hope with the network is to grow B2B spend, not just move it around. This might be possible but as the network will really be about bulking out the inventory to provide appealing packages to Agencies, the real opportunity is going for a 3rd party to be to come along and optimise the distressed inventory.

*Vertical Zoom

AdViking gets to have the unique opportunity of being able to focus on different verticals through participation in various events:

  • B2B – Speaking on Vertical Search at Magazine 2008
  • Classifieds – Facilitation of a workshop on Monetising Search at the ICMA General Meeting in Brussels
  • Local – Participation in the Local Search Summit in Oslo

Google Trademark Game… Advantage Brands!

7 May, 2008

Advantage Brands

As posted early last month Google finally opened it’s barriers and let advertisers ‘back in’ to bid against brand names. Whether it really was to do with the ‘Mr Spicy‘ ruling in the States or, as we suggested at the time, more to do with the bottom line, advertisers have flooded back to take advantage of the levelled playing field… Or have they… ?

One thing that Google have made clear is that, unlike Yahoo! and MSN, they will not allow brand names to be used in the written ads. So this causes one obvious and one not-so-obvious problem.

The obvious first: you can’t use the brand name! So, for example, if Peugeot have protected Peugeot then you can’t advertise ‘Peugeot’ in the advert unless authorised. Therefore you have to use tautology… “Brand New Pug” or “NewPeugeots” or “The Entire Range of the car you want”.

The not-so-obvious is more interesting… As you probably know – Google measures adverts by a Quality Score, this score has affects both the Minimum Bid as well as the Ad Position, meaning a poor performing ad must bid higher to achieve the same position.

Whilst this makes sense, one of the key variables to decide the quality score is … ad relevance… And the main defining factor is using keywords in ads.

Therefore, say you’re bidding on ‘Peugeot’, or phrases including ‘Peugeot’, and cannot use the word ‘Peugeot’ then relevance will drop, thereby increasing minimum bid and lowering position.

So the real test of where Google sits will be how (or whether) it adjusts Quality Score in light of it’s own policies.

Check AdViking for the latest on episode two of the trademark wars… ‘The Brands Strikes Back”!