Since the first time that a corporate executive bragged to his fellow bigwigs about his company's wide-reaching TV advertising on the golf course, the impact of advertising on the company that funds it has been a factor in the decision to allocate dollars to advertising efforts. People like to see their own advertising. My ex-partner Tim McHale used to talk about Budweiser ads running early in evening sports games, ostensibly because Augie Busch liked to see his ads before he went to bed for the evening.
More importantly, marketers and ad agencies need to see evidence that, in fact, the ad they booked actually ran. In print, for instance, it is standard practice for agencies to request "tearsheets," or ads physically torn from the magazine or newspaper, from the media vendor as evidence that booked ads actually ran.
Why don't we have something similar for the online medium? It probably has something to do with the fact that ads are sold impression-by-impression in online, and that the consumption experience is different for every online visitor to a website. And unless an advertiser buys a persistent sponsorship, an ad that appears on a page to one user might be replaced by a completely different ad when a user visits that page a millisecond later. Since the experience may be different for each user, online tearsheeting has its challenges.
But it's definitely needed. Whether for verification or pure placation of the ego, online tearsheeting is something we should have. But who should provide this for the industry? There are quite a few companies that certainly could do it if they wanted to. Let's see who might be poised to jump into this market sector...
Of course, the online tearsheeting process could be handled by the sites that run advertising themselves, but wouldn't it be easier to pay a service a monthly fee to take care of online tearsheeting?