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Thursday, Jul. 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Reality – Rapidly Shifting Media Mix

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
July 17th, 2008

As the economy is changing so are advertisers media placement efforts. According to Bloomberg, USA Today’s ad sales fell 27 percent in June, the steepest monthly decline this year and worse than the 16 percent drop reported for all Gannett publications. During the quarter, Gannett’s national advertising slid 14 percent to $168.9 million because of cutbacks by retailers and carmakers. Are they all moving to more accountable media?

At the same time, Microsoft is concerned about Google/ Yahoo and their ability to control the prices on close to 90% of advertising online. According to Microsoft senior VP-general counsel Brad Smith, said “Not in television, not in radio, not in publishing. It should not happen on the Internet.”

David Drummond, Google’s senior VP of corporate development and chief legal officer, countered Smith and explained that the partnership will benefit consumers and advertisers by enabling Yahoo and Google to deliver targeted ads that are more relevant to those who see them. “The whole system becomes more efficient,” Drummond said.

I’m giving it all some thought. Do you believe Google’s assertion? Is it better for consumers? Is it better for advertisers? What do you think?

Add Your Comments

Comments (12)

  1. It will certainly make life easier. Microsoft Ad Center and Yahoo’s paid search tools (I quit using them because I could make more money by concentrating on Google) are much harder to use than Google. So right off the bat I’m better off if I can work in only 1 tool. Google’s pricing has always seemed fair to me, so I don’t see a problem with it.

  2. I don’t think a monopoly is good for advertisers or consumers but…. I don’t think anyone is being stopped from coming up with a competing product. Google can’t control the whole internet and there is no gaurentee someone isn’t working on the next adwords in thier basement right now.

    If Google can concentrate this much add revenue it really raises the stakes and creates a very fertile breeding ground for new competitors. MS got the wrong end of the anti trust laws in the browser wars and now they want to get google on the wrong end of the same laws.

    Leave them alone and if you are not happy with Google then you are free to create an alternative!

  3. Wow, Microsoft is really one to talk. Well, not in Internet advertising, but certainly with software and operating systems!

    From an advertiser’s point of view, personally, I’d rather deal with one account than two. But bid prices are also market driven, if we’re talking pay per click – you could see more competition in Yahoo SERPs because it’s “easier” for more advertisers to use both engines.

  4. I wish William Thomas were correct. Unfortunately, the same differentiation which made Google the most popular search engine (results customized to as much as they know about that individual visitor) has made them the most popular advertising platform online.

    Hence, to be building the next AdWords in your basement you would have to be logging at least as much data on individuals as Google is.

    You would need to offer free services as popular as those currently contributing to the big Google profile barn; including opt-in (like Gmail), not-so-opt-in (Search History and the creepy Web History) and the other services which, like Web History, pick up everybody’s trail outside of google.com (Analytics and AdSense units everywhere).

    Of course, by the time you get close they will be leaps and bounds ahead of where they are now as even more people, their tendencies and location histories, are tracked via their phones running Android.

    All before we see the fruits of Google’s enthusiastic moves into the active RFID chip space. ThingMagic is currently working with them on chipped employee name badges which log full location history, integrated of course with Google Maps. How much did that radio frequency cost, again?

    Good luck catching up :)

  5. I agree with Floogy that you can’t just put together your own version of adwords and compete with Google head to head in thier space, but I don’t believe that Google and thier search algos are the be all and end all of search. Google for all thier great stuff, still really stinks in a lot of areas and there is huge opportunity for the people who can make the internet work better.

    One area that comes to mind really quickly is local search – Google has done a huge amount of work in this area but it still stinks.

    Searching online for videos and images is just barely tolerable – I want to be able to type in “what did McCain say in his recent speech to the autoworkers union” and get a snippet of the video, not a news article about Obama (try it yourself)

    So Google is great, but there is lots of room for innovation just in basic search – and that doesn’t even begin to cover who is going to own emerging technology. For instance, it would be worth a lot to me if I could have product placement ads in the shows you watched online – let me give you an example.

    You are streaming the latest hot comedy to your living room media server and in the post production they left in templates for product placement opportunities – so everyone can see a different product placement based on profile information or search history. I may see the main character drinking a budweiser in a bar called Mo’s, while you see him drinking an import in a bar called Caio. I know there must be lots of people working on this idea already.

    Or let’s say you are watching the Patriots on TV and you happen to have a son who has been doing some searching online for football equipment – what to your wondering eyes should appear but some posters for underarmour and football helmets along the sidelines.

    What about video games? Second Life? Real Space (signs that actually change thier message based on who is walking by)?

    So Google is huge, Google has a big lead, Google makes tons of cash, Google will kill you if you try to compete head to head…. but the race is a long, long way from over and the second Google thinks they have it won is when they sow the seeds of thier own demise.

    And they haven’t proven that text based search isn’t a one trick pony…. I mean come on – people are paying consultants big bucks to rewrite thier website copy in accordance with some wacky alchemy and voodoo scheme that they think may help rankings because search engines have no idea what is really on the site – and this is just TEXT people! Throw in some photos, video and flash and your site is hosed! Oh, and did I mention that if your pages are dynamically generated you are really hidden?

    All of which means – better, faster, cheaper, more effective ways for savy marketers to reach thier prospects coming soon to an internet near you. Just as soon as the smart people in the garage come out with thier stuff…. come on smart people, we are waiting for you and promise to fill your pockets if you can deliver!

    Bill

  6. Which beer you prefer, or that your son has been searching online for football equipment? Big G already knows these things. Throw in an active RFID chip or live GPS in your Android phone and they can know when you’re about to walk or drive past an electronic billboard, too. Maybe a quick peek at your calendar to see where you’re headed would be the deciding factor in which ad to bombard you with.

    Any way you look at it, current and future advertising platforms, as you have so succinctly described them, would love nothing more than to bring about the hasty death of every remnant of our privacy. In the process, this opens up far too many aspects of our lives to eternal logging and, therefore, potential scrutiny when the subpoenas come rolling in.

    I, for one, won’t join your call for more even smart folk to join the guerilla assault on those few, sunlit patches of freedom from scrutiny that we can still enjoy.

  7. I think the privacy issue is much more of a real problem than the threat of a Google monopoly in online advertising. The recent youtube case is a great example of what could go wrong.

    Also, by combining credit card purchasing history with credit report, public databases, shopping saver cards, and internet activity… oh yeah and don’t forget the phone records and library card usage made possible by the patriot act, you have no privacy anymore, even without the gps or rfid. (don’t forget your rapid pass if you live around an expressway)

    I for one am more worried about the government having access to all this data though than I am about google having it. One of the great things about advertising is the more targeted it is, the less intrusive and the more useful it becomes. This is what Google really does understand – Relevance.

    If my smart electronic billboard could show you some new options in organic family meals when your family drives by instead of the Hooters ad with beer wings and boobs displayed for the kids, wouldn’t that make the billboard more useful and less obnoxious? Multiply that by the several thousand messages you get each day and you can see that better marketing equals better living.

    The real tough part is how do you balance privacy concerns, especially since everyone feels differently about what is important to keep private. One quick look at myspace or facebook tells me that I have a completely different view of that subject than many teens do!

    Bill

  8. I completely agree that frets about somebody playing monopoly is far less of a concern than privacy. Personally, I would rather have one company doing the Google thing than for such vastly distributed logging to become commonplace.

    Do these companies need government regulation? Dangerous territory, because *oversight means insight*, and don’t forget it’s our personal data and governments we’re talking about. Such oversight is only necessary if people don’t know how to opt-out for themselves. On that note, rather than rant on how ridiculous it is that opt-in is no longer the norm, let’s cut to the chase:

    To hide yourself from a large part of the machine, simply add a line saying “127.0.0.1 http://www.google-analytics.com ssl.google-analytics.com” to the bottom of your hosts file. Windows XP: edit C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts in Notepad. Mac OS X: vi /etc/hosts in Terminal as administrator.

    This only stops Google Analytics from logging your web-wide travels without your consent. Full disclosure: I use Analytics myself. It’s a great app, despite the obvious reason it’s offered free, but instructions like these must be widely published *to prevent* the need for government oversight.

    No, I am not going to advocate blocking AdSense, which is largely what enables us to enjoy so many web sites for free, because taking advantage of those web sites is a form of opting in. Bill raised a solid (and hilariously true) point in his last paragraph, but using MySpace or Facebook is also a form of opting in (though let’s not pretend people understand what they’re opting into). Browsing to a site with Analytics running in the background? That’s not opting in.

    If knowledge is power we need to stop pretending it isn’t, and realize the most powerful entity will be the one which organizes the most information. Let’s disseminate some of that tasty knowledge amongst each other so that people can voluntarily choose whether or not to feed the machine.

  9. NB: The commenting script wrote “http://” into those instructions; just leave it out.

  10. Great information and comments – Thanks Floogy!

  11. Online advertising is certainly forward looking, and generally Google tends to get it right. However, Google is quickly becoming a monopoly in the online ad world, but not due to any special gov. funding or anything (like old ma bell). They are doing it naturally, and in the end it will hurt advertisers; however, there’s not much that can stop them since they are the best at what they do.

  12. I know I’m a little bit late on this, but Microsoft certainly has a lot to worry about. Google is eating up their market.

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Jeffrey Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark. You can friend him on Facebook.

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