The Pittsburg Post Gazette reported last week about a new online advertising technology that will let consumers choose which ads they view on the Web. The article examines the new software that start-up MSpoke, Inc. is releasing to help online publishers increase their already booming online advertising revenue by allowing users to offer feedback and ratings of ads and online articles.
With interactive ad revenues for 2005 at an estimated $12.5 billion according to March 2006 data released by the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers, advertisers are clamoring more than ever to tap into the minds of consumers in order to target them effectively online.
MarketingSherpa also recently released its Third Annual Study of 680 attendees from the ad:tech trade shows who responded to the survey in the second half of December 2005. The survey illustrated that in-house blogs and RSS feeds were the favored emerging tactics for marketers, which indicates that targeting consumers is not just about cracking the code on how to get consumers to click and buy online, but is also about the online medium in which advertisers target consumers. Regardless of the technology that online networks use to target an engaged audience of buyers, marketers need to place their ads in the most effective online medium (i.e. perhaps in specific RSS feeds and blogs) to ensure the best return on the advertising investment.
The MSpoke software gives consumers the sense that they are taking an active role in the ads that migrate into their online spaces, but in reality this perceived consumer power has the potential to place consumers even more directly into the palms of advertisers. This potential will only be realized if the data gathered is specific enough to offer marketers ammunition that will really get people to click and buy online. This version of direct marketing seems vague because it is unclear how consumer ratings of content and ads will give advertisers the data they need to figure out more precisely what consumers will buy and to hone in on specific purchasing habits.
Depending on how the data pans out from MSpoke’s software, the software could be developed into a model that would benefit not just online publishers. For example, imagine if consumers could rate ads along with products (instead of articles) on various websites. Amazon and a host of other product sites allow users to rate and review products, AOL’s Moviefone tracks its users’ most requested movies, and Citysearch users can vote for their favorites in several categories including hotels, restaurants, and nightlife.
If users on these websites could also communicate their likes or dislikes about ads on the sites, users would produce valuable information to lure future advertisers to market their brands on the sites. But, the question still remains whether MSpoke or anyone else has or will develop technology that will harness this prime information for web sites and their advertisers.