Posts Tagged 'advertising'

Printcasting Offers Hybrid Web/Print Publishing (And Ad Targeting)

To follow up on yesterday’s post about a custom-targeted print ad model, Jason Preston at Eat Sleep Publish points out one fledgling example of this already in existence. He interviews Dan Pacheco of Printcasting, a service of the Bakersfield Californian.

Printcasting provides micro Web sites on hyper local or highly niche topics. So far it’s being used in neighborhood and ethnic-specific publications. Users also have the option to print out the PDF of that week’s issue. The PDF includes custom targeted ads based on interests or demographics. (Can we also hope for behavioral targeting as well that would place print ads based on each person’s Web browsing experience? That online/offline combination would be really interesting.)

Printcasting is also available for bloggers and in theory would allow bloggers, publishers and Printcasting to share in the ad revenue.

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Targeted Ads in Print: A New Revenue Source For Media Companies?

The launch of Sojern today, a service for placing targeted ads on airline boarding passes, raises an interesting question. Could targeted ads be a new revenue source in newspapers, magazines, or other print journalism?

Targeted ads are most well known for online ads, where they can be placed in front of a user based on past Web sites browsed–behavioral targeting–or based on what the user is doing at the moment–contextual targeting–for example, searching for shoes brings up shoe ads. There is also demographic and geographic targeting. A variety of studies show the boost in user interest with these various forms of targeting.

However, targeted print ads are more difficult to pull off. Setting aside national print magazines or national newspapers that are large enough to run different ads for different geographic regions, most newspapers and magazines have not been able to create targeted ads. Once you set an ad in a publication and it runs in print, that’s it.

One example of successful targeted (contextual) print ads is Catalina Marketing, which provides coupons on the back of receipts at the point of sale. Based on what you buy, you get different ads. Sojern is just starting out but the idea is similar. Based on what destination you are going to, as well as your budget–e.g. economy vs. first class ticket–different ads and content appear on your boarding pass, from weather info to restaurants and events.

Could newspapers or magazines implement a similar idea? While it’s clear that newspapers are moving further into digital and there is a need for rethinking models of publishing and distribution, there are still many print publications. If one were to design a newspaper (or magazine) from scratch, what type of ads would one design? Ads targeted so that home delivery newspapers or magazines have ads targeted to that specific geography, lifestyle or demographic of that household, which would bring in much higher ad rates. I’m sure this would require an expensive (maybe impossible) rebuilding of the entire printing process. But since many newspapers have cut way back on the number of print pages, wouldn’t it make sense to make those ads that are there worth more?

Maybe this only makes sense if you are talking about a print-out-your-custom-newspaper-at-home model. It especially makes sense in that case, in the way Sojern prints targeted based on destination, newspapers could offer extremely targeted ads along with the 5 stories a person wanted to take with him or her on the subway to work.

A Serious Facebook? Is It Possible to Create a “Facebook Adult”?

Can Facebook be turned into a “serious” social network? This is not an idle question. Facebook has up until now depended on ad revenue, which has not been as outstanding as the company could have hoped. More serious, practical applications and associated users could mean more opportunities for revenue from a range of products and services. In a recent post, Stanislov argues that yes, Facebook can be made more serious and practical if those serious people could be organized together, separate from the giggly teenagers, and given the right features and serious applications organized for them.

Wondering whether Facebook is the best place for serious, practical apps as opposed to, say, throwing sheep, I asked Stansislov to point out some serious Facebook applications. He quickly came up with a good list (I could quibble and say serious people would rather read RSS feeds in their feed reader, but I agree with most of them). He argues that developers would build more of them if the environment was well-suited for them. Maybe. If the site could be reorganized in a way that made it welcoming for these practical apps, then that’s possible.

But another issue this raises is that doing that could pull apart the whole reason much of the giggly crowd comes to the site. Sixteen-year-olds don’t go to Facebook to do serious things like check stock quotes or read the NYT. They come to communicate, view photos and “buy” their friends. If Facebook becomes known as a serious site, they could move on to Twitter or Flickr or MySpace or the next start-up. Is it possible to split off and create a “Facebook Adult”?

LinkedIn has a leg up on Facebook in this department. LinkedIn has opened up its platform for third party developers, though granted it’s way behind Facebook. But if developers start to build banking, shopping, insurance, payroll, and investing apps on LinkedIn and Facebook (or even Facebook Adult), where would users rather use them?

Amazon’s Page Recommender Widget Moves Into Content, Challenges Start-ups

Amazon has launched a new Page Recommender widget that affiliate bloggers (and presumably other publishers) can put on their sites.

The widget makes personalized recommendations of other pages within a Web site to users, apparently based on their individual preferences. Whether the recommendations are based on 1) just their browsing history within that particular site, 2) also their browsing on other affiliate sites, 3) their product preferences within Amazon.com proper or 4) all of the above, is unclear.

In addition to the new content recommendation, the widget also recommends products. The product recommendations are also personalized based on individual preferences. From Amazon, via O’Reilly Radar:

The products that are recommended are based on the interests of each individual visitor as well as items that convert well for your website. The products that you see may be different from the ones that are displayed to others based on their individual behavior.

This move into content recommendations is not too suprising, since Amazon’s product recommendation engine on its site has been one of the best examples of recommendation engines. That is, those parts of the site that say “readers who were interested in this book were also interested in this.” In theory, using that recommendation engine for Web pages instead should not be too big of a change.

Because this is a new form of affiliate revenue, to some extent this competes with Google (Google and Amazon increasingly compete in other areas such as cloud computing), but more directly it takes on a number of start-ups that are providing similar or related services. These companies, such as Aggregate Knowledge, Inform and Loomia, and Proximic, and to a lesser extent Sphere, provide recommendations for related content and/or products based on the history of traffic and click-throughs in their networks. Some of them can do nifty things like recommend a product in a completely different area from an article that someone has viewed. For example, on a page about gardening, the service could recommend a specific type of bicycle.

However, as far as I know most of these start-ups are not basing their recommendations on personalization as Amazon seems to be, but rather the aggregated knowledge of their networks. There is an interesting strategy difference in presenting the most popular versus the most individually customized recommendations (see my previous post).

The Amazon widget also falls into the larger trend of ads and content merging together (Google’s AdSense is the most obvious example of this. When you search for shoes, the distinction between the unsponsored search results and the sponsored links has become less important for users.)

This could the beginning of a broader push into content recommendations for Amazon. However, I’m not sure this is a big challenge to Google, I think it’s a much bigger concern for start-ups.