Jeff Jarvis wrote a piece in April 2006 for the Guardian to “propose an open ad marketplace that would allow advertisers to find the best blogs and bloggers to find the best ad deals.” He lists three main concepts to accomplish this: metrics, workflow (ease of implementing code for ads), and trust. Broadly, the concept Jarvis proposes can be applied to both the Exchange space and Native Advertising – both Twitter and Quora topic darlings. So in seven years since Jarvis’ original article, have we played matchmaker for Jarvis’ marriage proposal and what do we have left to do from ‘the marriage’?
(I’ll be referring to ‘Blogger’ as ‘Publisher’ throughout the post for uniformity)
Bachelor #1: Google
Google is the serious banker type your parents wanted you to marry, but always felt like something was missing. Google has focused on the first and second pillar Jarvis discussed in his column – metrics and workflows. Google Analytics and GDN (Google Display Network) plus Blogger/YouTube/Google+ meet part of the marriage criteria. Although GDN is still mainly banner ads and not native to the experience – bloggers find mass reach and scalability utilizing Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers platform and reporting is streamlined for both Publisher and Advertiser. However, the ‘chemistry’ component – the trust and magic spark is missing. Enter content platforms.
Bachelor #2: Buzzfeed
Buzzfeed is the creative, hipster guy you dated and felt that he’d either make it rich by bringing Pet Rocks back to the mainstream consumer or the guy you’d end up supporting for the rest of your life. However, Buzzfeed is currently looking like the former as it draws more than 25M monthly users to its platform through its digestible and shareable content as well as its brands’ content <- also digestible and shareable. Contemporary platforms report and optimize on metrics like ‘virality’ and ‘shares’ rather than Google Analytics reporting standards. Applications of said metrics are subjective and tailored for each Advertiser, but what about workflow? Publishers like Buzzfeed team up with Advertisers to create platform specific content moving into a vocation owned by Creative agencies for the last 100 years. These types of content platforms tick the metrics and workflow boxes in a different way than Google.
What makes a good marriage?
The new word to call an Advertiser running on a network or platform is to call them a ‘partner’. Interesting choice of words, as partner is associated with union or marriage. I took a theology of marriage class in college. I received a C. Mom wasn’t proud. However, I did remember one thing from that class regarding covenant. Covenant in terms of overcoming gridlock and finding agreement. Moving away from religion and back to advertising, we still find gridlock with the Blogger/Advertiser marriage. There’s a lack of dual value recognized between the two parties. Advertiser wants accountability, data, and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Publisher wants to feel valued, acknowledged by Advertiser once in awhile, and the confirmation that they’re going to meet them halfway.
How committed have we been to the marriage?
To date, we’ve brought metrics and tracking as a standard in the industry; we’ve tackled the workflow issue with self-service tools, streamlining creative outside of IAB standard for native platforms; yet we still don’t trust each other. Does Advertiser not trust Publisher to deliver on promises (CPA, Reach, Engagement)? Does Publisher not believe Advertiser has their users’ best interests in mind when creating ads? When I say trust – I don’t mean transparency. It’s not just about transparency. It’s about a commitment to each other in marriage. These are the questions we need to discuss more openly – trust issues.
Jayne is a contributor to The Makegood and leads Business Development for Adaptly, an agency that is changing the way brands increase engagement on social networks by helping them harness the unique value of each.