The Death of Display Ads and What Interactive Can Learn From Print
Print publishers are having a tough time trying to keep their version of display advertising afloat. With print production costs rising, and in this age of cost-per-click, cost-per-lead, cost-per-whatever, magazine ads are fighting an uphill battle and need to find a way to become more relevant and cost-effective to remain part of a marketer's advertising mix.
It's ironic that some folks already are predicting the demise of the online version of display ads (banners, leaderboards, skyscrapers, etc.). Even worse, a term like "display advertising" has crossed over into the online space often causing confusion and indicating to me that interactive purists have turned their backs on print. Just this past week I had to edit one of our media kits for 2009 and change "Display Advertising Production Specifications" to "Print Advertising Production Specifications." After all, a half-page island certainly doesn't mean the same thing as a 300x600 pixel half page IMU (interactive marketing unit).
Targeting advertisements based on a user's click stream (links clicked on a Web site), geographic location, browsing behavior or registration data (demographics) is what many ultimately believe will be the real winner for online publishers and advertisers.
Some of the online publishing big-boys like Facebook keep tweaking their ad targeting while occasionally falling on their face. A prime example is what happened to Washington Post writer Rachel Beckman this past month. You have to wonder how long it will take for things like Engagement Ads to meet a similar fate.
Google recently announced it's cutting the length of time it keeps users' personal data from 18 months to nine months. Geez, trade publishers have kept personal data (demographics) for decades! Google AdWords pushes Quality Scores for its SEM placements and now sites like CNET are asking for ad feedback on their Web sites (see photo below) in attempt to get an awful lot of information while the reader/visitor gets nothing in return except the "potential" of more relevant advertising offers.
What this tells me is that people can talk about magazines going the way of 8-track players, AM radio and big-city newspapers all they want, but online publishers and marketers could learn a lot from the print folks who have been doing this stuff for a long time.