Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

gest boy­cott of any­thing, ever. Thank­fully, there seems to be some aware­ness that dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing has over-promised and un­der-de­liv­ered; un­less of course you’re Google or Face­book. It’s about time too.

If we’re to save the web from be­com­ing a series of walled gar­dens that ex­ist in the shadow of tech giants then we need bet­ter ads and a bet­ter ap­proach to serv- ing them to au­di­ences. And ad­ver­tis­ing as an in­dus­try needs to be care­ful that the worst elements of dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing don’t spill into other me­dia.

Brands seem to be get­ting can­nier about their spend, pri­ori­tis­ing qual­ity over quan­tity. P&G did just ear­lier this year, cut­ting more than $100m in dig­i­tal spend­ing. P&G’S Marc Pritchard has also stressed the pri­macy of cre­ativ­ity. “Try and re­sist think­ing about dig­i­tal in terms of the tools, the plat­forms, the QR Codes and all of the tech­nol­ogy com­ing next,” he said. “We try and see it for what it is, which is a tool to build our brands by reach­ing peo­ple with fresh cre­ative cam­paigns... the era of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is over. It’s al­most dead. It’s now just brand build­ing.” Dig­i­tal pub­lish­ers are also try­ing to shake things up. Fu­sion Me­dia Group is en­cour­ag­ing ad­ver­tis­ers to make bet­ter ads by re­ward­ing them with bonus im­pres­sions. Dis­play ads with high en­gage­ment rates can earn up to 20pc more im­pres­sions on top of what was booked. The prob­lem is how en­gage­ment is mea­sured. There’s a chance that the most shame­less click-jack­ing form of ads will be re­warded.

An­other pub­lisher tak­ing a dif­fer­ent tack is the Out­line, a site which prides it­self on its unique aes­thetic. The Out­line has done away with tra­di­tional ad for­mats and cre­ated its own ad units. These cus­tom-made and in­ter­ac­tive ads reach a smaller au­di­ence than generic for­mats, but they re­port­edly have a click­through rate of 25 times the in­dus­try av­er­age.

At the same time it seems that the al­lure of low-rent, di­rect mar­ket­ing dig­i­tal tac­tics are en­croach­ing into other me­dia. Some TV com­pa­nies in the US are try­ing to com­bine their mass–mar­ket of­fer­ing with the prom­ise of dig­i­tal tar­get­ing. And AT&T’S ac­qui­si­tion of Time Warner, an­nounced last year, also seems to be about mak­ing ad­ver­tis­ing more tar­geted.

It seems like a no-brainer, es­pe­cially when you con­sider the po­ten­tial of com­bin­ing the data from the largest PAY-TV busi­ness in the US with mo­bile stream­ing and lo­ca­tion data. AT&T is bet­ting that the ad­di­tion of its tech­nol­ogy and user data will give their TV ad­ver­tis­ing a crit­i­cal edge — pin­point au­di­ence tar­get­ing.

But data can serve two pur­poses. The first is mar­ket in­tel­li­gence that can in­form cre­ativ­ity and strate­gic brand­ing; the sec­ond is hy­per-tar­get­ing.

The lat­ter may gen­er­ate clicks, if put in front of enough users, but whether it can cre­ate broad cul­tural rel­e­vance, an emo­tional link to a brand, and fa­cil­i­tate a price pre­mium over time is ques­tion­able.

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