A post by Dave, led me to an article by John Battelle, from there John's blog, to reworking thoughts by Ross based on Marc Canter's Openlistings. Who says it's not an echo chamber! And note that MIT provided no contact info for John on his article and so no way to write back. I had to Google for his blog and then search for the corresponding post.

Anyway. First some immediate thoughts that ended up in John's comments.

1) Bloggers don't have time to pick ads. It's ridiculous to think of a blogger wading through Ads looking for the ones to show. But what I do want is to be a bit more involved in the placement process. I should be able to nudge along the Ad Agency saying I want "These types of ads related to these keywords but not those". Perhaps a one click solution on the Ad saying "Love, Skip, Ban" that only the blog owner could see.

2) "Internet-based ad is already a little piece of software". Really? it just looks like html to me... I think what you mean is that Ad systems should have an API so you can query details about a particular Ad. Good idea.

3) AdSense sucks for bloggers. I'm tired of my blog getting nothing but adverts for blog systems. Just because the reader is looking at a blog doesn't mean they want one too. Especially as they've almost certainly already got a blog of their own. And Google doesn't index the blog post fast enough and so know what Ad to show. A lot of blog reading is done within minutes of the post via RSS. Getting the right Ad a day later is too late.

4) See 2) I want to see Ad Systems (like AdSense) have an API so that Listing systems (like Craigslist) can automatically post Listings (for a premium price) as Ads. Let's have a decentralised eBay based on Ads that appear on Blogs. I think this is a big idea. The problem is that it drags Google further down the long tail and they may not be ready to do it. And if not them, then who?

Taking this further let's stand back a moment and think about the overall system.
- Advertisers placing Ads with lots of metadata. Competing against each other to maximise click throughs by adjusting the text, keywords, impression charges and clickthrough charges
- The Ad agency providing an API to let advertisers place ads automatically
- Listing Services (craigslist et al) providing moderation of listings and reselling placement on the Ad Agency. Automatically generating metadata, tags and keywords from the categorization of the listings on their system. They get revenue from the reselling but also get implied advertising because every click through comes back to their site where the listing is read.
- The Blogger providing loads of metadata about their blog both explicitly by keywords. Passing judgement on particular ads by marking them as good or bad. And implicitly by their page rank, content and links to and from them.
- The Reader, by generating impressions, racking up hits on tracking cookies, and clicking through Ads.

This is a rich, rich system with loads of explicit and implicit activity and content. The Ad agency should be able to build lots of feedback mechanisms to maximise the return for both the Advertiser and for the Blogger. I get the impression that current traditional advertising is all very manual. Traditional Adverts were bought from a small number of corporates as campaigns sold onto specific sites. Google (and Overture) has opened this up by providing a sell side system aimed at SME advertisers. But their focus appears to be getting their advertisers to do the work to maximise effectiveness.

The big idea from Ross is to now open up the demand side and build and provide systems that maximise the return for the Inventory sites that are showing the ads. For the Ad agency, this looks at first glance to be counter productive since they represent a cost. But in fact, maximising their return is actually making the ads more effective. Which should mean that they get more money from the advertisers. But we really don't have time to look through all the ads and choose which ones should be displayed. And as Ads have relatively short lives we'd have to keep doing it. We're already providing lots of information about Ad effectiveness on our sites in terms of clickthrough rates. The AdSense tools for Publishers let you block specific Ad URLs, but there's no other way for us to feed our views back into the system. This is too blunt an instrument for us. I think what we need is the sort of simple controls we have on the Last.FM radio. Just three buttons that only we see against each ad for "Good, Bad and Ban". "Good" says this Ad fits, give me more like it. "Bad" says This doesn't fit, reduce the likelihood of this ad showing and ones like it. And Ban says never post this on my blog again. It should be possible to provide an Amazon recommendation style page for the publisher where they can work down a long list of potential Ads setting each one to one of the three values (plus "no opinion").

The key here is that Publishers will do some extra work if it means they make more money. They just won't do all the work.

The Ad Agency API fed by listing sites, represents a new source of Ad Content. But it also adds value because they take some of the work on moderation and they can add metadata which provides additional information to maximise the rest of the system. Most of this article is about the demand side. But with my Ecademy hat on I'm very interested in the sell side as well.

As I've done some research on this area, what I've discovered is that there's a huge industry of support sites and services surrounding AdSense. The Advertisers side of the equation is getting very sophisticated. But equivalent support for the publishers is seriously lacking.

ps. It took a little while to do the search to find Marc's original post about OpenListings. This is not the first time, I've done a Google search for a specific named idea that appeared on a blog and had real trouble finding it. Another example of where blog developers are not terribly good at applying SEO to blog design, and where Google still has plenty of work to do on making search for blog content better.

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[ 24-Dec-04 11:50am ] [ , , ]