Monday, August 18, 2008

OnlineSpin: The Most Sarcastic Column You Will Ever Read

Last week Cory wrote "What Will Happen To Inventory Prices In The Coming Months?"

Jarvis Coffin wrote in reply, "Cory: The ad network business is a bellwether for the industry right now, and it is signaling progress.

The lack of accountability that ad networks have enjoyed generally in terms of price (with publishers) and transparency (with advertisers) is under pressure from both sides, the result of which should be better conditions for anyone selling or buying something of genuine value online."

Monday, August 18, 2008
The Most Sarcastic Column You Will Ever Read
By Cory Treffiletti

I want to take a moment to write about a topic that gets little to no coverage anymore... I want to write about non-rich media. I want to write a column this week that tells you all how great a campaign can be when you run old-fashioned, three-frame GIF ads and you measure them based on click-through.

Why not, right? With all the buzz in our industry about over-the-page ads, in-unit video and Flash vs. Silverlight, is it really possible that we're overlooking the simplistic beauty of an ad that says "click here if you like X product"?

Of course, there are lots of things going on in our industry that may make you think these ads have no place in a media plan anymore. Companies like Scanscout are partnering with Pointroll to increase the use of video in ad units, and Eyewonder and Eyeblaster are always coming up with new ways to generate interaction within an ad unit, but why should they get all the press? If consumers aren't clicking on ads more than 0.2% of the time anyways, why should we waste all those hard-earned marketing dollars on creating a rich, customizable experience for the consumer that accurately conveys the true message of the brand more than just trying to generate a click? I mean, why should we even look at the types of metrics like time spent, actions taken and view-through? If they aren't going to click right away, why should we expect them to come visit your site later, right?

I mean, do we really think that online advertising can affect behavior and drive intent? Do the various internet advertising groups and research companies really expect us to believe the findings they see when they spend millions of dollars and conduct thousands of hours of research to tell us to do more than read click-through rates? Do they think we're that gullible?

I'm sure that if we get into the details of the top 100 online advertisers and the campaigns they run (which I assume they judge to be successful, since they keep spending money) we'll discover that they run standard 468x60's and 728x90's with three-frame GIF ads that drive users to immediate click-through. I bet none of these ads are more than 10k, too! The ads with the dancing alien and the mortgage rates are probably the second-best performers online. I am sure the data will support these - does anyone have that information handy?

I love GIF ads. They are so simple to create that I don't even need to hire a creative team anymore. I can just sit and create them using Microsoft Word. It only takes three frames, and any dodo can make these ads drive a click-through. You don't even need to accurately target your audience. All you have to do is buy the cheapest inventory you can find. I try not to pay more than $0.10 CPM, but even that is too high. I like CPC and CPA pricing -- that works for me.

And while I'm at it, I think I should spend more of my budgets against radio and print. Those two formats worked really well for my brand all through the '80s and '90s, so why should I change them out now? As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I need to get back to work now. I have a lunch meeting that will probably keep me out of the office for three hours, but there's really not much to do this week anyways, so it's cool.

Of course if you believe any of what I just said in this article, then please pack your bags and write your resignation letter -- because you NEED to find a new career.

Cory is president and managing partner for Catalyst SF.

Online Spin for Monday, August 18, 2008:

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