Ironically, given that its purpose is to draw attention, targeted advertising is the dog that didn’t bark. For as long as most of us can remember it has been talked of the great untapped resource, just waiting to be unlocked by convergence; the ‘Mother Load’ that would justify much investment in technology and content. The foundation upon which many a hopelessly optimistic business plan has been built, and then collapsed.
Convergence has come a long way these last few years and many of the interactions deemed necessary for targeting to work have been achieved and exceeded as social media tied into media content has proliferated. And yet still no big pay off in targeted advertising.
Some of that is because while the sexy science of weaving the web into broadcast was all the rage, the dull stuff – collecting and managing the vast data dumps this opened up – was overlooked. It isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap, and that’s another reason for the slow take-off; if advertisers are going to pay for the sophisticated data mining required they are going to want to know if it is working.
Two problems here; while many claim they can measure convergent targeting advertising accurately, may others doubt their claims. And certainly there is no standard way of doing it. Also, the web side of convergence has a reputation for being somewhat fast and loose with advertising data, something the broadcasters don’t want anywhere near their pristine numbers.
And then there’s the will to make it happen. As our feature in the upcoming May issue of Euromedia reveals many broadcasters see second screen advertising as a means of extending and defending their mainstream ad take on prime screen broadcasts. They don’t want an alternative second screen ecosystem; who knows where that might lead? Consequently they don’t cooperate – many local targeting plans fall at the first hurdle as the original content broadcaster refuses to mark up the ad slots for the workflow.
Finally, while talk is cheap, do marketers – or indeed consumers – value targeting? From the business side the answer seems to be no, or at least not highly enough to make it work. In broadcast they complain about wasting half their money but not knowing which half. But on the Internet, if we say fairly generic content and cookie driven targeting brings that waste down to 25%, the lower CPMs on the net mean marketers see that as good business, and they are unwilling to pay higher CPMs for better targeting in convergent media.
Meanwhile, consumers have shown they are well aware of the price of better targeting in terms of the cost to their privacy (see the bad reaction every time Facebook or others over step the mark), but are unconvinced of the value of it to them.
Perhaps targeted advertising is the sleeping dog we’re actually all quite happy to let lie.