"It allows advertisers to cherry-pick the best content," Yovanno told OMMA Global attendees on Friday during a panel dedicated to the science of online marketing. "But it will help them in the long term."
On the first point, Eric Wheeler, CEO of social network behavioral ad targeting startup 33Across, agreed. "The industry has to be careful about cherry-picking," he said. "You can't let advertisers just pick that top 1%, and disregard the rest."
But it is up to publishers to keep the playing field level, said Margaret Clerkin, CEO of MindShare Interaction, North America. "Publishers have to work harder, and they have to be smarter and look at the space more carefully," Clerkin said.
For one, the entire "Good Science" panel agreed that the value metrics surrounding social media content need to change. "It's wrong to do media placement on social networking, because it's about conservations," Clerkin said.
Wheeler said the stickiest part of the Web are the social parts, "so every publisher is adding social, which offers incredible data that marketers would love to use. But you have to move from marketing to conversations."
Russell Fradin, president of ad network services company Adify, agreed. "Social networking is wildly useful, but the problem is the way it is measured," he said.
Another key to the financial success of Web publishing is evolving the medium from a purely direct-response arena to one that can support large brand-building efforts. Clerkin, for one, was optimistic on this point, arguing that the Web is well-suited to a blend of direct-response and brand-building efforts.
"Interactive really lends itself to blending," she said. "You just have to be wary of how you're spending your money." In terms of the ideal metric, added Clerkin, "it's all based on the client objective."
According to Yovanno, about 70% of the ad dollars online are going toward direct-response advertising, but he also agreed that a shift toward brand-building campaigns is possible. "For publishers, it doesn't matter whether it's a CPM-based model or some other pricing model," he said.
Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore, was not buying it, however. "If we're going to persuade these companies to spend online, I don't think it's going to happen if we can't show them (metrics they're familiar with)," Fulgoni said.
Going forward, most of the panel expressed optimism on the matter of measured online media. According to Yovanno, the industry is beginning to flesh out new and improved "attribution points," which publishers and advertisers can use to attribute value to user actions online.
Clerkin, meanwhile, assured that MindShare and other agencies are working hard to expose "the synergistic effects mixed marketing," while "advertisers are starting to see the difference in social media."
Indeed, Wheeler said, advertisers are just beginning to recognize how valuable social media can be, and what it takes to extract real value from a social media campaign. "Advertisers are starting to think in terms of social campaigns as long-term. "Like any relationship, it takes consistent work, measuring, tracking, and maintenance."