I respect WebreakStuff quite a bit, but Frederick’s recent post about needing more relevant ads is a theme I hear a lot when talking to web publishers.
Publishers often ask me (Right Media/RMX Direct) to find them more targeted ads, and it seems to be a common thought expressed by them. It’s also common to see regular consumers such as Frederick say that they’d appreciate it if ads were more relevant, and everyone acts as if advertising companies aren’t trying or don’t want do to that.
I work in advertising, and I don’t love ads, but I know what advertising does for web publishers. It provides them revenue to keep their sites free of membership feeds, it allows them to keep publishing and pay hosting costs, or it allows them to hire a staff and make their website into a real business. These are all great things for web users who enjoy web sites for free.
So to me, advertising pays a very important role in supporting the “free” publishing world we’ve become accustomed to on the web.
That being said, I’d also like to see more relevant ads. But what I don’t think people are understanding is that there aren’t as many advertisers with unlimited budgets as they all seem to think exist. Even Google who has the largest selection of advertisers hitting the broadest amount of categories often shows totally irrelevant Adsense ads on publisher sites because they don’t even have enough targeted advertisers to fit that type of content.
When I ran a site on the sport of wakeboarding, I had to work my ass off to pursue, sell, optimize, and support targeted advertisers I was selling to directly. There’s no way I could have expected an ad network to provide me with those advertisers because they didn’t have the budget or need to go through an ad network. Adsense ads also didn’t provide many more than a few advertisers that didn’t pay very well for clicks, so even though they were relevant they weren’t very profitable for me as a publisher. I had to do a lot of manual work, and frankly many publishers aren’t going to have the time and skill to pull this off, or their industry just doesn’t have retailers and product companies like wakeboarding.
Let’s take a look from the ad network point of view. Let’s say we have a video game publisher who wants relevant advertisers to video gaming. It’s a bigger category than wakeboarding so it should work right? The network goes out and finds a couple of advertisers, but they have budgets, only want to run on certain sites, and need to achieve certain goals and results. Spread out across the 20 video game sites in my network, they each don’t end up receiving that many ads, and then what are they supposed to do with the rest of their ad inventory? Show irrelevant ads is really one of their only options.
And as unfortunate as it may seem to a user, irelevant ads do perform well enough for advertisers and publishers in many instances that they are profitable. And that profit helps keep their businesses running letting you read content on the web for free.
We’re trying to help this problem at Right Media by growing our exchange with as many buyers and sellers as possible. The more buyers we have, the more targeted ads we could end up serving to users and publishers.
I just don’t like the assumption that ad companies aren’t doing their job because ads aren’t relevant enough. There is constant work being done to improve targeting and provide more opportunities, but their still remains a shortage in enough targeted advertising to go around to make everyone happy and profitable.
We’re trying to help solve this problem at Right Media