Huffington Post: Online Advertisers Still Don't Have it Figured Out

August 21st, 2012

Huffington Post
August 21, 2012
By Mitch Joel




Is online advertising any good?

Last week, DigiDay ran the news item titled, The Ad Contrarian’s Reality Check. Bob Hoffman (CEO of Hoffman/Lewis) runs the blog, The Ad Contrarian, and leverages the platform as a place to debunk the over-exuberance that many digital marketing and social media professionals have when they’re chest thumping or declaring the latest online platform that everyone is jumping on as panacea for brands and the future of marketing. Hoffman is direct and to the point. When DigiDay asked him if the digital ad industry was irresponsible, this was his response…

“…First is qualitatively. They initially sold us on ‘banner’ advertising by telling us that display ads would be so much more effective than static print ads because people would interact with them. Then when they found no one was interacting (clicking) they changed their story. Now, according to many in the industry, clicking (interaction) means nothing, and display ads are effective because of their branding value. So the thing they were selling against is now what they’re selling. Second is quantitatively. We still have no idea how many clicks are fraudulent or how many are mistakes. But we’re paying for all of them. This has been a problem for years and no one seems to be in a hurry to fix it.”


It would be easy to dismiss Hoffman as a traditional ad guy, doing everything in his aging power to hold on to the dream that tomorrow the mass population will wake up and stop using their DVRs to skip television advertising, or that cities all over the world will stop banning billboard advertising as visual pollution.

Who knows, maybe if Hoffman has his way, the only way you can get the news will be rolled up on your doorstep each and every morning, or on the television at 6 and 11 p.m. (no time-shifting for you!)? Hardly. Hoffman’s insights (while jarring to those of us who have been working in the digital advertising space for close to 20 years) should act as a catalyst for those of us who are trying to establish the next generation of advertising. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that Hoffman is not alone.

We’re doing it wrong.

As if on cue, comScore (self-described as “a global leader in measuring the digital world and the preferred source of digital marketing intelligence”) released a white paper last week titled, The Economics of Online Advertising, that looked at the state of online advertising. You would think that the findings would debunk any contrarian perspectives that people like Hoffman and the like may have. You may think that online advertising is the future, and that as media dollars shift to digital (because that’s where the eyeballs are) that online will be able to better serve brands in terms of delivering higher relevancy with better metrics. It turns out, that after close to two decades since the first online ad was served, that our industry still has a ways to go.

It is early… very early days for online advertising.  

MarketingVox covered the release of the comScore white paper with a news items titled, comScore: Unlimited Inventory, Lousy Metrics Cheapen Digital Ads. Here’s the crux of the white paper as described by MarketingVox:

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