In yesterday's Ad Age "Digital Next" blog, Eric Farkas opines that online advertising based on the generation of page views and ad impressions is becoming "a business model of past." This observation comes on the heels of ComScore CEO Magid Abraham's IAB presentation calling out the bankrupt economics of the impression economy: he says that more than 3 in 10 online ads are never even viewable in the first place, and calls for a radical reduction in supply.
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I couldn't agree more. In fact, I wrote about this precise topic back in June 2010 ("Something's Gotta Give.") The good thing about writing a blog every single week for years is that once in a while you'll get one right and appear a little prescient -- albeit, prematurely so. "Summer 2010 Me" wrote...
"If you're a content publisher in today's environment, you're feeling a more than a little squeezed. You're tortured by the unforgiving math of trading of site traffic for ad serving opportunities...Enough already...Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Media owners â€” publishers â€” have simply got to break this vicious inventory cycle and embrace some fresh thinking."
I went on in that post to talk about some potential new directions for publishers -- syndication, distribution and monetization of the value of one's content -- but this was a conversation that the industry was not yet ready to have. In some ways we're still not. So much of the data science and modeling in our business always leads back to the same broken model: "...then we'll show an ad and get paid a little more for it." That banner inventory has become a commodity isn't really surprising, but we must all be a little shocked at just how fast it happened. Yet come hell or high water, we seem determined to prop up the sagging value of the ad impression.
I say let science fully take over. Exchanges, DSPs, trading desks, publisher optimizers...have at it! Take our commoditized, compromised page view/impression model and run with it. Then the rest of us can commit ourselves to the real work of value creation...the right brain work of experience integration, idea generation and business problem solving. Along the way, we might just restore the creativity and intellect that rightly belong at the center of advertising and marketing.
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