Solve this challenge: You’ll make consumers, branders, Jeremy Liew and Ari happy

….and maybe make some money.

I haven’t had a chance to comment on the great post from a few weeks ago by Ari Rosenberg:

His writing is some of the most on target and entertaining in the space for sure.

And the title of this one is no exception: Did You Go to the University of Phoenix?

Ari, of course, in this post references the ability for University of Phoenix to build both brand and ROI online at bottom rate prices. Why? Because publishers are looking for the nearest dollar and willing to compromise inventory supply.

An interesting aside here though is the proliferation of brand marketers adapting to the current market conditions and adopting this strategy: Verizon and AT&T running banners on conversion metrics.

Even Arm & Hammer. 

There on the redesigned front page of Yahoo there was a discount coupon from Arm & Hammer as measurement of the success of their home page buy. (By the way, I’m not suggesting that Arm & Hammer told Yahoo that “listen, I’ll pay you $25 for each discount coupon that gets downloaded today instead of an upfront in the hundred thousand range, I’m merely suggesting they have a way of measuring the success of their buy to push down pricing on further media campaigns).

Anyway….back to the topic and apologies for the meandering.

Ari is certainly right in terms of dissecting the value of inventory and coming up with the occam’s razor solution to this one: limit ad placements. There are many reasons discussed on this blog and on the comment board on Ari’s that took about the challenges in making this happen: performance marketing propping up smaller pubs, the inability to police ad placement across the long tail.

A solution that’s been bantered about a bit (I found older comment on it here: in many forums is in terms of page layout.

Let me bring in the converse of this from a post by phenomenally sharp-honestly one of the sharpest on Sand Hill–investor Jeremy Liew. He suggests a standard ad unit for social media.

What in the 728*90 (gosh, that’s terrible) do these two points have in common: page layout in variation and standardization of ad units for social media have in common? User fatigue.

The web has certainly seen the explosion of content and more recently the possibility of quick riches from online publishing. Because of the relative cheap cost of production, the ability to widely distribute (by users through email, or search engine through indexing or seo), the web has also seen, in some respects, the denigration of content. Regardless of whether it is UGC or other, the production value of the content of the web is usually below its visual counterparts on TV.

By standardizing and structuring a web publication within itself and within the web, there are no disadvantages for the web publisher. Standardization allows for:

– ease of navigation by the user

– ease of display of a advertisements that are in and of themselves standardized

– ease of distribution by search engines and link exchanges which gains more traffic.

All these factors have contributed to create order of information in many cases, but a lack of creativity that, in this writer’s mind, can lead to reduced quality.

The answer is not standardization of ad units to push social media as Jeremy suggests (that will only seek to diminish the value of the ad unit in a space that is much closer to communcation on communication – content bar), but it’s not revolving page layout either (that will only seek to frustrate the user). It’s something in between.

Solve this through a content management platform and that’s a valuable company.

Ironically a company doing a great job of this is none other than– as continual changes in format, repackaging and promotions seek to keep the user interested without frustrating them.


1 comment so far

  1. […] this posta that discusses scaling advertising in social media. I am still bearish on whether a standard ad […]

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