The folks who put their hearts and souls into a magazine or TV network or web site want to make the case to advertisers that the editorial product they produce, and the conversation it engenders, are unique. That uniqueness, they argue, deserves a premium. While an advertiser can find those same people â€” say the few million people who watch The West Wing â€” watching other shows or reading certain websites, thereâ€™s extra value to reaching them when theyâ€™re watching The West Wing. And making that case, god forbid, usually requires a bit of high-friction human contact.
I think Chas is evaluating the open ad marketplace concept based on how it would work for what FM represents, which is high-quality unique content publishers who can get targeted advertising from advertisers who want conversations, and can charge a premium for that.Â Just because an open ad marketplace is “frictionless”, doesn’t mean these same advertisers couldn’t find these same high quality publishers and advertise on their inventory.Â The value of an auction is that it bids the value of inventory up.Â If Fred Wilson’s blog advertising was available in an open marketplace, he could still get a premium for his inventory, and only accept advertisers he wanted to work with.Â I’m not saying FM doesn’t add value as a network, they definitely do, but there’s no reason to believe that high quality publisher inventory is suddenly devalued just because it’s not being tightly represented.
My worry is this: Create a frictionless, rational, performance-oriented marketplace for ads, and content quality and editorial innovation go down the drain.
Why?Â Fred Wilson was writing his blog before FM came along to represent him right?Â Was the content of less quality then?Â Quality publishing on the web is often created out of love, passion, or knowledge.Â Sure, there are lots of publications out there that need good ad revenue to pay writers and stay afloat, but nobody said that an open ad marketplace has to be so performance-driven that publishers lose money.Â Isn’t this about publishers making more money and advertisers getting more value?Â That’s the whole point of an open ad marketplace.Â Publishers making more money shouldn’t equate to editorial content going down the drain….it should help.