Smart(er) Ads

I remember many moons ago picking up Macworld magazine and reading it cover to cover. Same with Rolling Stone.

And when I mean cover to cover, I mean the entire thing. Letter to the editor, reviews, tips, specs, interviews and ads. Sometimes, especially ads.

Now we all have something called “banner blindness”. We don’t see many or most of the display ads we see online (this post isn’t talking about search ads btw). And it’s more than just “blindness”. I’m told over and over again the most popular firefox extension is ad blocker. And some of my favorite extensions like rapportive blow out the ads on gmail to make gmail better.

As a result of all of this, ads need to get smarter. That’s just evolution at work.

There are many ways ads are getting smarter.

-real time exchanges know more about us than ever. It’s allowing a whole new level of targeting. And the data is getting richer than most people know.

-ad formats getting more interesting. Apple recently announced the new iAd. It’s a highly interactive ad that offers a whole new user experience and combined with your purchase history on iTunes. Personalized and interactive.

-like/dislike. Facebook, hulu and others provide ways for users to directly vote if they like or dislike an ad. I don’t know how many people actually do this but it’s a powerful idea. Maybe there should be incentives or better transparency to give users the feeling that things are improving with these gestures.

-promoted tweets. Twitter recently launched a new ad network around a new thing called “promoted tweets”. They aren’t ads per se, they are tweets that combine earned media with paid media. If the promoted tweet doesn’t resonate they fade away. That’s a smarter ad unit.

There are many more examples of startups and big companies creating and building new ad technologies and compelling formats combined with rich data sets.

I am optimistic that online advertising will significantly improve. We will see ads personalized and as interesting to me as those in MacWorld back in the day or even better.

And that will be a very good thing for everyone. Users, developers, publishers and advertisers.

(please excuse typos and lack of links. Wrote this on my iPhone)