The Future of Online Advertising

Mathew Ingram says the online advertising house of cards will topple soon. It’s an insightful post, though a depressing read for a web publisher like me. He is right about the fraud part, and this is also prevalent in other forms of online marketing (how many real people you think tweet/retweet those hashtags?).

The silver lining in the post was a reference to the new attention metric Chartbeat is trying to promote. As a publisher I have always vouched for the fact that reader’s attention and the time he spends on a web page should be a big factor in measuring returns on the ads on that page. If you left a page in a wink, chances are you didn’t look at the banners at all.

The post ends with this doomsday scenario:

The bottom line is that with bot-driven traffic, pixel-stuffing and other tricks, kickbacks and outright fraud, on top of the fact that less than 50% of all online ads may even have a chance to be seen by a real human being, the online advertising market is like a house of cards that is ready to topple–or a tiny child’s bicycle being ridden by dozens of clowns, all perched on each others’ shoulders. How long before it collapses completely?

I doubt if the collapse is going to happen soon. Programmatic demand continues to rise. With the print dying, web will only become more formidable as a medium to market on. And while better and more accurate ways to measure will arrive and be standardized eventually, I think, to pick one of the lines from Mathew’s post, advertisers will come to terms with this reality:

….as John Wanamaker famously said: “I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.


Om’s Story

There are very few people in the tech journalism/blogging space who can turn dull facts and events into amazing stories. Om Malik is one of them. I don’t recall ever not being captivated by his write-ups. So when I came across this fascinating story of the man himself, I sat up and took notice. Lots of interesting facts and life lessons. Like this one on a wrong career move:

At the height of the dot com bubble, he left Forbes at the end of 1999 to join Hambrecht & Quist, Asia Pacific as an investment manager, and moved to San Francisco. For the first and only time in his life, Om had made a career move based solely on money instead of logic and passion. And it was a mistake.

.. and this heartwrenching account of his state of mind after the Gigaom collapse:

“It was my life for 14 years. I gave up everything for it,” he said. “I had no social relationships. I didn’t get married. I stayed alone focused on this one thing, because it’s the only thing that mattered to me. And towards the end when I thought things were going great, I thought I could just step away, that my child was grown up. And it wasn’t.”

You are not going to regret spending time on this one. Must read.

The Valuation Game

Jacob Silverman writes about the new found love of venture capitalists: Media. I don’t agree with many of the points and assertions in this one but it certainly makes for a good read with some interesting insights. For instance, on startup valuation:

Before sending out a term sheet to potential investors, Blumberg has to decide how much his company is worth. The number his team comes up with is $10 million—an essentially arbitrary figure, as he’s quick to admit. “The valuation, like everything in this startup world, is a story you’re telling,” Blumberg says. It’s a promise of future growth. The value isn’t, in any familiar sense, real. But all this is typical for a startup, especially in the midst of the present tech bubble.

I remember speaking to a friend about this recently and recalled his emphasis on ‘vision’, because valuation isn’t about the numbers but about the vision he said.

Do You Know Your Blog’s Goals?

What are your blog’s goals? More importantly, do you really know what they are?

Is it making more money through Adsense or other types of ads?

Is it getting more RSS subscribers? Email sign ups maybe?

More traffic? From where? Google?..No? Then? [Read more…]

How Publishers Can Make the Most Out of Reader Comments

One of the most important things that separates a blog from other mediums of publishing like a newspaper or a static website is its dynamic nature. The word dynamic not only applies to the ability to post new content or update old ones in real-time, it also means reader participation in a quick and effective manner through comments.

The comments section of a website or a blog is a platform for the reader to express his opinion about the article he just spent time reading. This feature used to be limited to blogs at one point of time, but now, almost every content website that updates regularly has them enabled. [Read more…]