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06/10/2009 Buying Impressions vs. Making Impressions

This last week has seen a rash of good news for online advertisers. Sites like the Daily Beast, Digg and Twitter are ramping up alternatives to the sorry state of online display advertising. Hopefully this will move us away from the old media habit of buying impressions toward a place focused on making impressions instead.

Since most display advertising has poor creative and predictable placement, it’s easy to ignore. While adding rich media and creative thinking that takes advantage of the technology helps, it might be too little too late.

The Daily Beast has now embarked on a path of custom advertising integrated more closely with its content. This sounds pretty exciting, although it would be good to hear how easy and scalable that is. That’s one of the advantages of the current display model: you don’t have to custom build creative for a gazillion different sites. Hmm, maybe companies like Adroit should take note.

But the concept is spot on and similar to some ideas we’re testing out as well. I can’t wait to see the first results from these types of ads.

Digg is also placing ads into its content stream and letting people vote on whether they think its good advertising or not. Hurray for Digg, finally letting people have a say in this is a good thing. Surprisingly, this may have the affect have making more people pay attention to the ads, even if they stink.


While Twitter got a lot of negative Tweets about it’s pay-per-Tweet idea, you’d be hard pressed to make a case that those tweets are going to be worse than many in your current stream.

Each of these approaches focus on content in content areas and we’ll see winners emerge who provide the greatest relevancy. At the end of the day, it’s about making impressions with the people who want to talk with you rather than buying impressions to bother people who don’t want to talk with you.

One thing we need now is a pricing model that reflects that.


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