June 24, 2008
I have two high-level takeaways from the news of Google’s new AdPlanner offering.
First, I think this is an important step in the right direction for the industry. Specifically, that is, an a media research and planning tool that is based on measurable data from actualy web sessions, rather than the panel-based approach historically offered by comScore and Neilsen. We have enough web publishers in our portforlio who have not so happily suffered through the shortcomings of panel based research to know that Google’s affirmation of the alternative approach, pioneered by Quantcast (a recent invesment and on whose board I serve), is a positive step forward for the industry. Quantcast CMO Adam Gerber sums it up nicely:
This is a major event in our space since a great many publishers are paying substantial fees for audience data from syndicated services, which don’t always necessarily enable full marketplace visibility or accurate audience detail.
For years, our industry has been pushing for improved audience data, and more importantly, a model that enables real-time segmentation at the impression level so that audiences — instead of bulk impressions — can be purchased and delivered. We have always claimed greater “accountability” versus other mediums, but failed to recognize that we really only own that mandate on the performance side of the business where conversion data is king.
Brand marketers — who care about demographics, passionate groups, and customer segments — honestly have had little to leverage beyond contextual, behavioral, and retargeting solutions. Nice, but nothing dramatic, scalable, or significant enough to bring them to the online ad table in a major way.
Among the solutions required to attract major brand investment online are greater confidence in the numbers on which their spending is based and more intuitive ways to understand and deliver appropriate audiences
Second, alternatives to Google’s offering will be sought. True, it is a little unnerving to realize that a startup you recently backed has woken the sleeping giant. But more importantly, if, as I predict, Google helps make impression-based audience measurement and segmentation the coin of the realm, the market will also demand offerings that compete with Google’s. Publishers and ad networks will need their own segmented offerings to compete with Googles, and quite the pot of gold lies out there for the company that enables this. Clearly I have a stake in this battle, so I am far from neutral and objective, but however it shakes out it should be an important, and fascinating battlefront.