Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seven Things Ad Tech People Have Been Saying For the Last Five Years That Are Total BS

1.  “Brand dollars will come online if we just do ____.”

Brand dollars will come online, but it won’t be because of ad tech. It will be because television itself comes online. It’s already happening, with blended TV/online buys from most big networks, and the emergence of the “newfront”. Will ad tech need to provide features and functionality, new metrics, and innovative formats to capitalize on this endemic trend? Of course. But the idea of online publishers somehow keelhauling the established TV ad market is the single largest and most consistent fallacy this industry has propagated since its inception.

2.  "We don’t need a GRP for digital.”

The Media Kitchen's Darren Herman and I agree on a lot of things, but this is not one of them. Reference point #1 above: TV is coming online, and not the other way around. The GRP needs updating, and validation, but it’s still the currency by which the vast majority of ad revenue today is planned and evaluated, and for an optimal merge of the online and TV ad markets it will necessarily need to remain.

3.  “Buying ads is like trading stocks.”

Jordan Mitchell said it best here:

"When you buy a share of stock on the NASDAQ or NYSE, you know exactly what you’re getting...In contrast, ad exchanges provide very little transparency or standardized information to what you’re actually buying – they simply offer ad inventory by the tonnage through an auction model and cookie retargeting...This basically means ad exchanges as they exist today are built on “insider trading” principles."

4.  “This is the year of mobile."

Last year was the year of mobile, actually. I guess if you say it every year you’ll be right once eventually.

“The year 2011 saw mobile advertising become a meaningful category,” said David Silverman, Partner, PwC U.S. “By combining some of the best features of the internet, along with portability and location-based technology, mobile advertising is enabling marketers to deliver timely, targeted, relevant, and local advertisements in a manner that was not previously possible. It is for these reasons that we expect strong growth to continue with mobile advertising.”

5.  “The digital advertising industry is too crowded.”

Competition breeds innovation and forces vendors to price solutions at rates that encourage widespread trial and adoption of new technology. Without venture capital, and the attendant “crowding”, online advertising would be stuck in 1995, with a ceiling imposed by direct publisher sales, blind inventory, and zero accountability. More than 35% of the vaunted Lumascape has been acquired, which ought to be a strong indicator of value creation of all parties in the ecosystem.

6.  “Online advertising is too complicated.”

Inefficient? Sure. Resource intensive? Can be. But is hiring vendors, placing buys, and measuring results really that complex?

7.  “Ad networks are dead.”

For the last time, no they’re not. More than 50% of the comScore Top 50 Properties either own or are owned by an ad network. The 26th largest ad network is bigger than the 5th largest publisher. The Google Ad Network is the single largest provider of inventory on the Internet. Can we please stop talking about this now.


  1. THis is an awesome post, Kirby. I'm circulating it around. You will love ZEDO's new president, BTW. A savvy guy who knows advertising:-)

    1. Thanks ZEDO! As for savvy, we could always use more of it in this industry.

  2. Kirby, good stuff. Thought I disagree with #2. I agree that we need a fruit to fruit comparison (may not be apples to apples, but at least apples to pears). It's not good enough to just know you reached an average audience x times. We can do so much more than that.

    1. Thanks Darren. I agree we CAN do more than the GRP I just questions when it WILL be feasible to do so!

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    3. You are both right in this case. The way I read Kirby's assertion is that TV needs a digital GRP in order to accelerate or facilitate that move. Once they are comfortable in digital, then we can let our digital wizardry loose to show them how much more there is to offer.

  3. #8 If agency creatives and media people could just get along we could _______ ... I think we better work around this one... Kind of like "this is the year of mobile"... although we just bought a mobile company, so we think it is the year of mobile... Jay Sears, the Rubicon Project (jaysears.com)

    1. Totally. Waiting for internal agency politics to resolve is not a good idea. And hey, I wrote this before you bought Mobsmith or I would have tagged THIS year the year of mobile.

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