Targeted Advertising

Don Marti has written another blog post about targeted advertising [1]. His main point is that when a company uses the most targeted adverts (such as Google advertising) everyone knows that they are paying a small number of cents per click and nothing for the people who don’t click. This compares to TV adverts which cost a lot of money and for which most viewers either leave the room or use fast-forward. Therefore using Google adverts doesn’t send a signal about the amount of money invested in the products. Don also cited an example of a company sponsoring an OK Go film clip, that was a great idea, it shows that the company can do expensive things which are also a bit creative and fans will thank them (watch all the OK Go videos on Youtube, they are great).

The next question is how else companies can advertise? One thing I’d really like to see is sponsorship of authors. Pick an author and pay them a salary with paid editorial services for releasing a book a year for free in HTML and ebook formats. Having a fixed salary is a significant benefit when it comes time to apply for a mortgage or plan a holiday and being able to freely distribute books would be a significant benefit for an author who hasn’t got a large fan base.

In the computer industry it seems that there’s a lot of potential for sponsoring people who produce free things. That ranges from free software and designs for free hardware to blog posts and documentation. Five years ago Sun had a blogging contest and my friend Dave Hall won a server that was worth $21K [2]. It would be nice if some other companies started doing similar things and if Sun did a repeat so some other people I like could get some free kit.

4 comments to Targeted Advertising

  • I’m pretty sure that there’s a (way smaller) fee for the ad to be shown.

  • A signal that’s really hard to fake is sponsorship of live events. Having a presence at an event can produce a strong signal to potential customers, even online readers who don’t attend the event. This is probably why trade shows, which look incredibly inefficient, are still a major marketing budget item.

  • etbe

    I’ve never perceived a trade-show booth as a signal that means much about a company. Obviously the really big ones are expensive, but most booths aren’t that big and don’t appear to cost a lot (if they do cost a lot then they are failing by not giving me that impression).

    A booth that is staffed by intelligent people means a lot to me. If a company employs so many smart people that a few of them can take time off from their regular work to man a trade show then it is a strong signal.

    But really what I’m interested in is ways that sponsorship can change things. Sponsoring a football match is an obvious signal but it’s not innovative or exciting. By sponsoring bloggers Sun showed that they have money AND they are smart, that’s a good signal to send!

  • The magazine model at its best is also a good example. The magazine pays people who work on interesting problems to write about them, and it reflects on advertisers. (An ad in Scientific American carries a signal.)