With 31 million domestic monthly uniques (45 million worldwide) browsing across 600 nano-niches of special interest, About.com would seem like a veritable candy store for behavioral targeting. But as we also discovered when we spoke with another veteran of the platform, WSJ.com, About.com does not want BT to erode the value of its contextual offerings. Ben Reid, vice president of sales and operations, tell us that two and a half years after initiating the platform, BT has evolved into a "judicious" but persistent choice for his clients.
Opt-in e-mail or permission-based marketing has been rightly touted as a means not only of differentiating legitimate direct marketers from low-rent spamsters, but of building stronger customer trust and loyalty. But opt-in, as Luc Vezina of Montreal-based e-mail marketing consulting firm Got Corporation explains, is only the first step in building loyalty. Going beyond opt-in means establishing a reputation for relevance by learning more from the behavior of customers on your list.
Brian Quinn, vice president, advertising, Dow Jones Online, tells us that BT buys now represent up to a quarter of his sales. And yet, he remains careful not to let clients lose sight of the classic value of a media brand, to sell against important content and a valuable audience demo. BT is sweet "icing on the cake" but it isn't the core value proposition for a publisher.
That social networks and user-generated content are the current frontier of online advertising is widely agreed. Yet beyond that consensus, thorny questions abound. Kevin Sladek, CSO of San Francisco-based web video publishing platform developer Video Egg, and Troy Young, Video Egg's CMO, explain that at least part of the answer lies in learning new ways of targeting for the UGC space--something the company is trying to pioneer with its newly launched Video Eggnetwork ad network.