Yesterday I attended an Advertising Week luncheon where a young strategic planner looking to break the ice asked his tablemates, "So, what do you think will be the next new new thing in digital?" Knowing this strategic planner had come out of digital and was now working across multiple channels, I replied, "You." While I know I did not necessarily answer his intended question, it did get a few of us discussing the need for a specific type of strategic thinker: media types that were grown by their respective organizations the way he was -- an "If-Then" media professional.
Of all the different types of optimization technology there are, targeting is the simplest way of exploiting differences among your visitors in order to draw in greater revenue. If you find that different groups of people - say, visitors who arrive from Yahoo vs. visitors who arrive from Google - respond differently to different layout or copy, for example, then you should make sure you can show those groups different content to make the most of their preferences.
An extremely well-manicured lawn increases the value of a home, right? How can it not? But what if you held a garage sale every weekend? Does the revenue earned from selling stuff neatly strewn across your lawn on a regular basis make more economic sense than keeping your landscape consistently immaculate? In the short term, one costs you money; the other generates cash flow one buck at a time. But if each approach works, which one works better over the long term? Online publishers are facing this issue in their own backyard.
As media continues to race faster toward being bought and sold like a "commodity," math skills will continue to play a more vital role in determining the winners and losers of those selling it. And that's a problem for most of us. If we were great in math, we would probably not be working in advertising.