Commentary

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Scare 'Em

In a blog on Jack Myers' Media Village Web site, Jaffer Ali, CEO of Vidsense -- an ad network that allows 50,000 sites to post old TV and movie snippets so that when users click on them they are unknowingly transported to an advertiser's Web site where the video plays, -- calls Behavioral Targeting "immoral." Citing NSA receipt of information on millions of phone customers directly from the carrier and the subpoena and receipt of Amazon.com purchasing records among other events utterly unrelated to behavioral targeting, Mr. Ali (who proudly counts Playboy among his clients) tries unconvincingly to equate BT with George Orwell's "1984" Thought Police. His underlying assumption I guess is that every ad network that engages in any form of behavioral targeting is secretly in league with the government to profile everybody who goes online.

Unable to cite any real examples of how BT has compromised anyone's privacy, Mr. Ali falls back on the notion that "The potential for abuse is overwhelming." Kinda like saying because they are used to start an auto that might run over a child one day, that car keys are "immoral."

The totality of his argument is so absolutely unsupported that you have to ask why anyone would bother to write something so goofy and off the mark unless you assume that he probably hopes to gen up a little publicity while there are still a handful of congressman (who know even less about BT than Mr. Ali) circling online advertising and privacy. That not being the case (since I guess as yet no one has read the blog post into the Congressional Record or invited Mr. Ali to spend an hour on public TV chewing on the "immorality" of serving relevant instead of smack the monkey ads).

To add to the merriment, a video on his website invites advertisers to capitalize on the "behavior" of people inclined to click on short videos. But the true subtext is that Mr. Ali's business model is not built on BT, so he can trash it with a clear (if overly aggressive) conscience. And isn't that often the mission of "bylined experts" who are cluttering up nearly every website: to very subtly promote their own interests at the expense of their competition?

You need spend only 10 minutes or so examining Mr. Ali's business to be able to make a case that it is built on deceiving users who - when they think they are clicking on a video on a site they have chosen to visit - are redirected (and left stranded, the promotional video proudly proclaims) on the advertiser's site. Let's see: I was on this site because I like it, CLICK, now I am on an advertiser's site. Not because I clicked on an ad, but because I clicked on an old TV or movie clip. Run, quick, get the immoral squad!

Behavioral targeting was first envisioned by one of the pioneers of the business, Dave Morgan, as a way to help publishers (who didn't at the time have a clue) begin to understand what visitors where doing on their sites and by making certain obvious assumptions about them based on what they read, show them ads that were somehow relevant to their lives. People tend to like ads for stuff they might actually be in the market for. While it was entirely possible from the beginning to cross match registration data (what little there ever was) with IP addresses to be able to personally identify individuals, that was never the mission. After all, look at the billions of dollars that are spent on television based on a very few anonymous data points such as gender, age and the viewing patterns of others with the same demographic characteristics. Knowing your name, address, phone number, social security number, blood type and love of pornography would not help sell one more dollar of advertising in the online world. Intender behavior like building a car on an auto research site is a far more powerful indicator of your inclination to buy a car than is your income and zip code.

But we digress. If someone were able to gather every data point gathered by every independent online entity from Google to Wed MD, from the hundreds of BT vendors to credit cards given to retailers, and save it all in individual folders waiting for the day when we have a government that thinks the nation is ready to identify and isolate groups with certain medical conditions or sexual preferences, race or religion or political beliefs, than THAT would be immoral. But I think it is a little early in the game to come to that conclusion by taking a sophomoric cheap shot at an ad targeting methodology simply because you don't use it in your own less-than-transparent business.

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25 comments about "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Scare 'Em".
  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , July 25, 2009 at 3:15 p.m.

    George,

    I am very familiar with the Vidsense model having worked with Jaffer Ali over the past twelve months, and feel compelled to correct some of your misrepresentations here.

    For starters, had you been more diligent, you would have noticed a selection of videos on vidsense.com, including one directed at publishers. And had you viewed it, you would know that Vidsense does not deceive anyone, nor do publishers lose control of their traffic.

    Quite the contrary. Vidsense fulfills a visitor's chosen desire (demand) to view a particular video clip by opening a new browser window that transports the visitor to a paying advertiser's site where the clip is launched and viewed (in an ad-supported medium, someone has to subsidize the viewing), and for which the publisher is paid. What's more, when this new browser window is closed, the visitor is returned to the site from whence he came. The visitor is not "left stranded" and the publisher never loses control of his traffic. Are you suggesting that the 50,000+ publishers in the Vidsense Video Snack Network are being forced to act against their will? Or are you just saying they're too stupid to realize that they're being manipulated?

    Furthermore, your ad hominen approach aside, your comments reveal a wholesale misunderstanding of on-demand media.

    Saying that Vidsense "is built on deceiving users" does those users a tremendous disservice by insinuating that they don't have the good sense to change channels if and when they see something they don't like. BT, on the other hand abuses that same user on all counts. It acquires personal information through stealth practices in which the consumer has absolutely no say and to which they can't say "no".

    Anyone (everyone) who has an email inbox chock full of unwanted messages (the ones that got through the spam filters and spyware gatekeepers we're all compelled to arm ourselves with) knows that their personal information is up for grabs to the highest bidder, none of which have the guts to identify themselves or their practice. And whereas Vidsense operates in the light of day, BT advocates work under --indeed rely upon -- the cloak of virtual darkness to ply their misguided and disingenuous trade.

    I notice you didn't mention BT-inspired CTRs that have just about reached statistical zero. To paraphrase the old saying: with performance like that, who needs enemies.

    All things considered, if you and yours would stop viewing life through the rear-view mirror, you might see the road ahead more clearly.

  2. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications , July 27, 2009 at 10:28 a.m.

    I don't have an issue with Vidsense. I was making the point that if you try hard enough you can find a reason to attack nearly any ad targeting business.

  3. Uriah Av-ron from Oasis Public Relations , July 27, 2009 at 11:31 a.m.

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond

    I had a couple of questions / comments:
    1. What does 'BT-inspired CTRs' mean? Either the campaign uses BT or not. That said, Google entered the BT market this year, so I doubt the CTR is close to zero.

    2. For the last 30 years, your credit card company has been collecting much more sensitive information than any BT company (and your credit card company knows your name, address, financial history and credit card number).

    3. Saying that BT companies 'work under --indeed rely upon -- the cloak of virtual darkness to ply their misguided and disingenuous trade' is like saying that all people steal. Like all people and companies, some BT companies are disingenuous.

    Michael, I'm all in favor of righting anything George wronged, but when you shoot high and wide, you don't help your case.

  4. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , July 28, 2009 at 12:32 a.m.

    George and Uriah,

    In our on-demand world there are three things we know with certainty:

    1) Nobody demands, let alone wants, more advertising...
    2) Everybody snacks on video...
    3) Nobody and everybody are the same person.

    Given these truths, ask yourselves: Do we really want to target behavior in the hope of getting it right, or do we simply want to tap the behavior we know for certain already exists? For that matter, do we even need to target behavior that already speaks so eloquently for itself?

    The sponsored-content guys in the golden ages of radio and television had it right. They didn't target the audience. They let the audience target them.

  5. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , July 28, 2009 at 7:29 p.m.

    Michael,

    I think you are a bit off base

    1) You cite "truths" that may or may not be indeed "truths". I'd say these are your opinions. Not necessarily "truths". I could use less irrelevant ads, but ads that are targeted to my needs are OK. Not every one "snacks" on video, I prefer fruit. (still a very broad general statement). The last thing? Not sure if you are being witty or just not making any sense.

    2) Targeting behavior that already exists IS what BT does. So what exactly is your point here. People watch videos, so put the ads in the video. OK what make the ad relevant?

    3) In the golden days of radio advertising. Advertisers chose to sponsor a program based on the show's audience. It is doubtful any one listened/watched a program because it was sponsored by Lux soap.

  6. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , July 29, 2009 at 11:01 a.m.

    Jonas,

    You miss the point entirely.

    For starters, online average CTRs of .2% (and dropping)shut the door on the "nobody wants more advertising" discussion. Not my opinion, just the sober truth.

    And with the explosion in bandwidth, video viewing is now the clearly dominant -and growing -online activity, consuming more time and bandwidth than any other. And video snacking accounts for nearly 80% of all video viewing (Google "video snacking" to see this is not just my opinion, just the truth). So I ask you, exactly what specific behavior are you trying to refine with more relevant ads?

    Wouldn't an advertiser be better off appealing to the public's insatiable appetite for amusement through proven, non-commercial content and then satisfying that appetite within a risk-free, completely controlled commercial environment like their own site? That's what the golden age of radio and TV was all about.

    Back then, for all intents and purposes, sponsors and content providers were one and the same. The sponsors didn't target anyone. They let the content do their talking and put their name on the curtain. They didn't congregate in commercial clusters. They controlled the branding "environment to buy" soup to nuts through direct association with something people actually wanted to listen to or watch. This inextricable entwinement is achieved now in very few places. The Hallmark Theater comes to mind. The Aflac Trivia Quiz is another example.

    To suggest that a commercial buried in the clutter provides relevance to anyone except the ad sales guy is specious reasoning, and a radical departure from what worked back when advertising was more about the message than the medium.

    The Vidsense Video Snack Network is a return to what works. I urge you to spend a few minutes at www.vidsense.com to see why.

  7. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , July 29, 2009 at 7:48 p.m.

    Michael,

    I completely get your point. Just don't agree. The problem is that you have taken a few data points to use them to “prove” your assumptions, unfortunately they don’t.

    Falling CTR is not an indicator that “no one wants more advertising”. Fist of all, nearly every one agrees that click-through rates are terrible measure of ad effectiveness. Studies have shown that display advertising increases overall brand awareness. What do you think magazines, billboard and transit ads do? They are one in the same. I do agree that people don’t want more undifferentiated advertising. Ads that consumers find interesting or helpful, maybe?

    On your next point, “video viewing is now the clearly dominant online activity consuming more time and bandwidth than any other.” Of course video consumes the most bandwidth. Video is by far the biggest bandwidth hog. However, video is growing, but not the leading online activity. More people use the Internet to check email, buy something, do research, read news, make travel plans and other. This was pulled by a recent Pew Internet study. So, no, watching video is not the #1 activity people are engaging in online. And yes, those who are watching video do watch more short form vs. long form video. I would guess that there is a lot more short form inventory vs. long form.

    Next you ask me “exactly what specific behavior are you trying to refine with more relevant ads?”. Targeting isn’t about changing behavior, it is about delivering the right ad to the right user at the right time. The more relevant the ad, the better chance you have to turn that user into a customer.

    Finally, you talk about the golden age of sponsored radio. Once again, advertisers chose to sponsor or own these shows because of their audience. Soap operas were started by P&G to sell soap to women who were homemakers; they wanted to attract a female audience. They certainly didn’t say, lets put spend a bunch of dough on producing a series to see who would show up. Of course this is very expensive to do which limits the advertiser pool. Hence the 30 second spot. The advent of cable further eroded the effectiveness of this method as viewership has fragmented. Of course, being the sole advertiser is valuable; so is controlling the content, I am not saying they aren’t. Just these are targeted placements. Aflac does its football trivia quiz to attract the football watching audience.

    Yes, it is harder now to break through the clutter, that is why advertising IS and always was about the message, the medium and the offer.

    Funny that you point to vidsense as a good example of how to do it right. Sure there is some decent content. There is some targeted pre-roll inventory, some not. There are few shows that shill the sponsor (not transparent nor genuine) and lots of banners and buttons from other advertisers, the clutter you rail against.

    Sorry Michael, I have to agree with George.

  8. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , July 30, 2009 at 10 a.m.

    Jonas,

    You show a glimmer of understanding in terms of advertising's primary role in engaging prospects vs. customers, but then you drop the ball with your Aflac example. Aflac doesn't air its trivia quiz to "attract" the football-watching audience. That's the NFL's job. Aflac uses its trivia quiz to "engage" the audience that is already there.

    The point is that Aflac associates its name with viewer-relevant content that has nothing to do with insurance. No sales message whatsoever is involved, just an appeal to the sensibilities that already exist in the viewer. Just like the soap guys, and just like Vidsense.

  9. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , July 30, 2009 at 1:39 p.m.

    Michael,

    Yes, you are right "engage" is a better term than "attract". You just proved my point. Aflac is on the NFL, because of the audience it attracts. That's it. It is a good example of sponsored content. But Alfac is there because they are targeting an audience, the NFL viewer.

    I do find it funny how you mention vidsense in every comment. They should hire you to do sales.

  10. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , July 30, 2009 at 1:48 p.m.

    Funny how the only thing you could negatively comment on was my use of "attract" vs. "engage" and used that to denigrating my understanding of the topic. I think I get it.

  11. Matthew Maginley from Maginley & Company , July 31, 2009 at 6:50 a.m.


    Today, the end user feels deceived everytime they get hit with a pre-roll ad before their chosen video They opt out.

    BT suggests that if they were stalked i.e. tracked their previously visited sites, then the pre-roll ad would be more relevant, and they would see Hair for Men rather than L'Oreal . Pre roll is pre roll and they opt out.

    Lets talk about this stalking behavior and why people feel privacy is the issue.

    If I drive my family to the mall (read use my IP address on the web), it is ok for JCPenny to ask me on the way out of their store (site) if I would like to get their circular each week (opt in). But I am not giving the right to JCPenny, or the mall management company, or any unknown third party that was hired by them, to copy down my license plate number and follow me and my family around.

    BT is in a way stalking your customer.

    When there were fewer viewing options, maybe the three networks, plus FOX and two Independents, the viewer would literally "touch their dial" and change channels. Video snacking behavior seen back then as they flicked those channels around between "Green Acres", "Petticoat Junction", and "The Beverly Hillbillies", and then settled on one show. The evolution of technology brings in the remote, the VCR, and TiVo , but the behavior is to "see whats on" and sample a show.

    At some point folks would look at a newspaper, or use TV Guide to "see whats on ". By the time we get to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more channels, let alone "500" or as many as the web suggests perhaps hundreds of thousand of video choices, there is a limit for what a person can remember is on Thursday at 10:00pm.

    However, the work is the same, the publisher/network programmer will schedule for audience flow and the advertiser only gets an adjacency to the program.

    They measure the audience flow and not the performance of the advertising.

    BT puts the onus on the customer, suggesting that their behavior prior to coming to the Harley Davidson showroom , or buying Bartolini white truffle oil, or Pathmark to buy Fruitloops, is somehow responsible for them buying the product.

    Far better for a customer to see a video clip that was "chosen on demand". That way the Steve McQueen "Great Escape" motorcycle scene is seen on a Harley Davidson page, a "Julia Child" or "Galloping Gourmet" clip is seen on the Whole Foods page and Lassie or animation for a FruitLoops page.

    The program is in the advertiser's showroom, the original site that has the video thumbnail remains in place. The urge of "on demand" behavior is satisfied, and that feeling is shared with the advertiser.

    The click through rates of 7.0 %, 8.0% rather than 0.2% confirm that VidSense works.

  12. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , July 31, 2009 at 10:50 a.m.

    Jonas,

    It's not just semantics: The NFL is the target, not the audience. The audience targets them, not the other way around as you keep saying. Aflac knows that, so they wisely choose to reside in the center of the target.

  13. Matthew Maginley from Maginley & Company , July 31, 2009 at 11:24 a.m.

    Jonas,
    I've been reading this back and forth with you and George on this VidSense thing .

    Regarding the NFL. It is programming within programming. The viewer is engaged in football trivia. Just like "You Make the Call".

    Aflac was very careful NOT to be seen as an advertiser but to provide something of high interest, engagement and entertainment ...in a branded environment.

    When you say "falling CTR is not an indicator that “no one wants more advertising”. Then what does it indicate?
    Thanks,
    Matt

    P.S.

    Also I don't agree that "nearly every one agrees that click-through rates are terrible measure of ad effectiveness."

    I think you have to be fair and look at the purpose of the ad. Getting brand awareness is not the same thing as getting an effective ROI for CPA or CPL. .

  14. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , July 31, 2009 at 12:41 p.m.

    @michael. we re saying the same thing. it is really very simple.

  15. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , July 31, 2009 at 1:22 p.m.

    Matthew, I think we all agree that the Aflac trivia question is a good example of brand integration. That combined with their 30 second spots have certainly raised their brand awareness.

    What do falling CTRs indicate? 1) banner ads may not be the best DR vehicle
    2) Many more brand advertisers are coming online and using banners to raise awareness rather that elicit a click.

    As far as it being a terrible measurement, of course you have to look at the purpose of the ad. If the goal is to get people to click and they don't, then yes you failed. Still, DR advertisers are more concerned about ROI, not clicks. I've seen many campaigns click poorly, but convert very well.

    Problem is that everyone uses click as a success measure no matter what the objective. That is the issue.

    Also, some reading

    1) from this site
    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=110328&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch.showSearchReslts&art_searched=click%20through%20&page_number=0

    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=109912&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch.showSearchReslts&art_searched=click%20through%20&page_number=0

    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/index.cfm?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=79871&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch.showSearchReslts&art_searched=click%20through%20&page_number=2

    2) A study by the OPA, that speaks to this very topic. http://emediaadvisor.com/2009/06/18/buildings-brands-online-the-silent-click-has-value/

  16. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , August 1, 2009 at 4:57 p.m.

    Jonas,

    As my final appeal to your senses here, ask yourself how you would rationalize a CTR of .1%. To suggest that the companion "impression" has value is the only defense available when confronted with a 99.9% failure rate. It's like asking if a girl is pretty and being told about her great personality.

    As the old saying goes: Even a blind pig finds an occasional acorn.

  17. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , August 3, 2009 at 1:23 p.m.

    Michael,

    I suggest you read up on the practice of brand marketing. You'll see that there is more to an advertisement that just a click. Is there no value in the impression?

  18. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , August 3, 2009 at 1:24 p.m.

    Here is another article supporting this argument
    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=110891

  19. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , August 4, 2009 at 11:24 a.m.

    Jonas,

    Time for you and George to s__t or get off the pot. You can't have it both ways.

    New media's "accountability" was its USP, touted as the most measurable medium ever conceived. In keeping with this ill-advised rush to judgment, CPM impression deals were scratched in favor of PPC deals because advertisers demanded performance.

    With that performance fast approaching statistical zero, the same idiots who advised against the CPM model are telling us again how valuable those same impressions are. "Forget that click through BS. We're doing some major branding here!"

    Given the choice in an on-demand world between relevant or non-relevant ads, most folks (myself included) would opt for something relevant. But that's question #2 in the logic train. Question #1 should be: Do you demand (want) more (any) advertising? Once you know the answer to question #1 (and I think even you can figure this one out) there is no logical basis whatsoever for question #2.

    You and George are engaged in a "tallest midget" debate that puts the onus to perform on the media, precisely where it can't succeed.

    By the way, advertising speaks to prospects; branding speaks to customers. So do yourself a favor and save your advice about brand marketing for one of those poor saps you're trying to sell some banner ads to.

    Good luck.

  20. Matthew Maginley from Maginley & Company , August 4, 2009 at 6:22 p.m.

    Jonas,
    In short-agreed.
    Not all impressions are equal.
    Branding and DR use different communication goals.
    Vidsense works for DR type goals.

    I believe people watch programs and stars/actors, and really don't care about the network and station. In the same fashion consider the rationale of using site demographics rather than programming demographics , and buying lots of impressions in order to get results - branding or otherwise.

    P.S.

    My issue was that George started off being a bit rude rather than light hearted with "If You Can't Beat Em Scare Em" vis a vis BT.

    I don't like being stalked as I use the web. I feel it is an issue of privacy. That's why we try to protect children when they use the web. Mr. Ali's point is well taken.

    I feel it is sneaky to track people using BT to serve up ads. The bottomline is people don't like advertising, especially in an on demand environment.

    The issue is that there are some people trying to keep the web educational and academic, and there are those who want it commericalized. Do we need another ad medium? Is that what we all want?

    I tell my kids and students, use the many library search engines and databases, find original source material, and find and read books...rather than Google it.

  21. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , August 5, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.

    Michael,

    I am not trying to have it both ways, as you say. What I am saying is that the click is not the only metric on which to judge performance. This argument is well documented and supported.

    You approach marketing/advertising with blinders on. There is way more to marketing than just DR. In fact DR is only 20% of marketing budgets.

    Your comment "advertising speaks to prospects; branding speaks to customers". makes no sense. Here is the definition of advertising.

    "The activity of attracting public attention to a product or business, as by paid announcements in the print, broadcast, or electronic media."

    and the definition of branding

    "Branding allows a company to differentiate themselves from the competition and, in the process, to bond with their customers to create loyalty."

    Advertising delivers the message, a brand message strives to differentiate the product from others.

    Is this really that difficult to understand?

  22. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , August 6, 2009 at 9:25 a.m.

    Jonas,

    With all due respect, your advertising/branding definitions prove my point, not yours.

  23. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media , August 6, 2009 at 2:32 p.m.

    Michael,

    You obviously don't understand my point.

    Your point is that banners don't work and branding is for suckers. Please explain when and where I said that.

  24. John Ardis , August 12, 2009 at 4:20 p.m.

    Well, a very spirited dialogue here, to be sure. I'm not positive what started the sudden the recent, seemingly sudden assault on BT and other forms of advertising targeting, but I do have to say that I look at the Ali/VidSense comments below as fairly myopic. What Mr. Ali and his supporters appear to do is to ignore that there is no perfect channel or technique, nor is any singular approach sufficient to meet the needs of most major marketers. That is why there's a "marketing mix."

    To take one technique - in this case, BT - and hold it up to intense scrutiny without putting it into context with other available techniques is at best naive, and at worse intentionally misleading. I'm not sure where the stats being cited come from, nor do I believe they're reflective of the reality I've seen in even some non-BT campaigns, but really that point is irrelevant unless whatever metric is being offered is compared to the alternatives, such as email, offline marketing channels, search and, yes, even the almighty on-demand video.

    For the on-demand video proponents in this string, I have no doubt that there is great value in those people who voluntarily call up a clip to watch, chaperoned by an advertisement. However, when the CEO comes to the CMO and says they need to grow their business by 10% next quarter, the CMO can't MAKE more people demand certain clips alongside which her brand will appear. So the CMO has to carefully weigh what they expect to get in terms of speed, volume, and ROI (short-term and long-term) from the various possibilities, and make their decisions accordingly. If on-demand video happens to be on the list, wonderful. But it can't be the only thing, or the CMO will indeed have a short tenure. If on-demand happens to work best, then it will inevitably move into 1st place in the mix, and when that channel is tapped out - as all channels will be - the marketer will turn to the next-best channel. The arguments below seem to suggest that an on-demand world is the only acceptable world - which is definitely naive. One can't pine for the days of Milton Berle and Steven Allen and in good conscience think it's realistic to compare that with today's world - the premise is laughable.

    In terms of the Aflac example repeatedly used below, one thing I'd ask is - how did they decide they want to sponsor and NFL program? Is it possible that they did analysis on their current policyowners, and find that there's a high propensity to like football, or be males of a certain age, etc.? I think it's highly likely that something like this occurred, rather than that placement being a random toss of a dart. If this is correct, that means that unless they exhaustively surveyed their user base, they likely appended data to their base to do the analysis. Where did these data come from? From any one of a number of firms that do enhancement every day, having culled information from warranty cards, product registrations, voter files, consumer surveys, public records, and a myriad of other sources. The average person isn't fully aware of that "stalking" either - yet it powers the very example you point out! In addition, the data could certainly be considered "behavioral," inasmuch as they point to activities and preferences that consumers have displayed in the past.

    In a nutshell, it's not at all easy to divorce data and targeting from any advertising method any longer. And it strikes me as naive or disingenuous for the on-demand supporters to suggest that their current higher CTRs justify that this approach is superior. If you make the argument that 99.9% "failure" is unjustifiable, then how much more justifiable is the 92-93% "failure" if the quoted 7-8% CTRs are to be believed? Talk about the tallest midget argument! I would also argue that regardless of where today's CTRs are for on-demand, they will subside over time - it has happened with banners, email, search, lead generation, direct mail, telemarketing, and so on. On-demand, too, will go through it's lifecycle and settle into its rightful place in the marketing mix over time. I would also be willing to wager that as the average rate begins to decline, many of the on-demand people will begin to offer more "targeting" options to buyers in the hope that it will be a hedge against the erosion. Let's check back on that prediction in a couple years.

    In the meantime, it would be helpful if practitioners that marketers rely on to provide sound advice would refrain from claiming that one technique - be it on-demand, BT, search, or anything else - is the be-all-end-all, and instead counsel them on the marketing mix, the pros and cons of each and, most importantly, how the various methods can help the marketers achieve their goals while still treating the public with respect.

  25. Domenico Tassone , August 22, 2009 at 3:26 p.m.

    Great article George, it is odd that Jaffer spends so much time slamming BT. Also, odd that he chose not to engage in the discussion as he is quite the conversationalist. It was very thoughtful of Mr. Einstein to rush in to speak up for him tho!

    Regarding our mutual colleague Dave Morgan being the first to envision "behavioral targeting", how do you figure?