I want to target people…not buckets!

It’s a very interesting time to be participating in the monetization of online audiences.   There is so much activity going on…all at a time when folks are needlessly starting to fret that the online advertising growth is diminishing.  What’s interesting to me is that I’ve been incredibly underwhelmed with what has been made available to date in terms of monetizing consumer audiences.  I guess I was hoping for some more sophisticated targeting…the ability to reach the micro-segments that I want to reach with a very low-cost, highly targeted message.   More importantly, as a consumer, I was hoping for the ability to have somebody reach me with advertisements and messages that are of interest. 

In talking with some folks about the advertising in social networks such as Facebook, I’ve often heard phrases such as, “yeah, but their targeting is already very good.  It’s quite contextual.”  And, while I agree that it is contextual — it doesn’t mean that it’s relevant.  To oversimplify, relevance has two key dimensions:

  1. It must be a topic of interest to me and
  2. It must be delivered to me when I’m in the mindset to absorb it. 

When I went to visit my “University of Pittsburgh” group in Facebook this AM, I received an ad for 10% off my next purchase at a local brewpub — Fuel & Fuddle.  I’m well out of college…and am now living in Seattle.  I still do enjoy a good brewpub and actually used to frequent the place that was advertised.  So, this ad definitely meets relevance criteria #1 above.  But, it certainly doesn’t meet criteria #2 — tough to drink a fresh poured amber ale from 3,000 miles away.  I’m definitely not in the mindset (it was 6:44 AM) nor in the physical locale to absorb this ad. 

 Unfortunately, when I look at Facebook’s latest advancements in buying advertisments for their site, I’ve got to agree with Tom Hespos in that I was left wanting more.  Tom writes:

I want to be able to overlay multiple targeting criteria and have the database tell me every time how many people are in my potential universe.

Somehow, the entire Facebook approach to targeting buckets (vs. individuals) seems to miss the real power of social networks — they are amalgamations of diverse individuals loosely bound by common interests at a given point in time.  Hmmmm….sounds eerily similar to my 2 criteria for relevance doesn’t it?

The notion of “buckets” on Facebook is a step in the right direction…but it is inherently flawed when it comes to relevance.  But, then again, didn’t we all learn this when we were kids…as Henry once said to Liza…”there’s a hole in that bucket.” 


~ by matflec on November 13, 2007.

One Response to “I want to target people…not buckets!”

  1. Amen. Online advertising, while not in its infancy, has certainly not reached its teenage years. One thing that constantly frustrates me is the general-ness of the ads placed by Google Adsense. Even when there are multiple keywords, for example “Pittsburgh,” the ads that come up are for national chains.

    What we really need is a ad solution that provides local businesses, especially small businesses, relevant exposure. Technically, it wouldn’t be hard to do–just match up someone’s location (which is easy to find) with local ad content. The hard part would be doing the leg-work in individual cities to connect with local businesses interested in advertising.

    I can still see it as a very lucrative enterprise, though, and it sure would beat the hell out of Adsense.

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