Unlike old media outlets, content on the web can be created and distributed by anyone. Advertisers have traditionally shied away from buying space on content that wasn’t tightly controlled by an editor, but the growing popularity of blogs is forcing them to change. Robert Young explains:
Blogs are proving themselves to be a powerful new medium, one that challenges traditional media for people’s time and attention. When an advertiser buys ads on Google and it gets distributed on the AdSense network, many of them are placed on blogs, without discrimination as to who authored the content. This dynamic is something new… advertisers gave up some control (where the ad is placed) in return for higher accountability. Put simply, Google changed the game.
While placing ads on offensive publications or shows used to be strictly off-limits, the heightened targeting capability of the internet has changed things. The potential value of reaching a user who has chosen to be on a blog with questionable content exceeds the risk of being associated with the content creator. While the determination of what was offensive in the old media was often a projection, web advertising provides precise results that will indicate what is profitable.
Ari Rosenberg explains why the extreme measurability of online advertising is the bane of the old media world:
It is the action in response to the advertising sold that becomes the critical point in media buyer’s evaluations of publisher’s online properties.
If you replaced the term publisher with the name of any list rental company, you can see how the current online pricing models treat online ad impressions like direct mail drops. The rate of response is far more valuable than the consumer’s exposure to the letter. This buying mentality is permeating all media — and that is what has the advertising landscape shaking under Martin Sorrel’s [traditional media CEO] feet.
With the web, advertising is accountable. This is really bad news for the traditional media.
Finally, the nature of ads themselves is changing with the internet. The use of rich media in banner ads, for example, enables advertisers to include targeted products, signup forms, or even a place to purchase in the ad. David Berkowitz explains that these ads can “push parts of the site out to people,??? and they can create a lead or sale without bringing the user to the site. More importantly, rich media ads can appeal to users on a new level, blurring site content and advertising to reel in potential customers who have become immune to the traditional banner ad:
While consumers are inundated with ads, people are content-hungry, consuming every type of media at a frenzied pace. Putting content in the ads gives consumers what they want, and it gives the ad a fighting chance to do its job. It’s this type of marketing that blurs the line among advertising, merchandising and sales channels.