Monday, March 24, 2008

Looking Glass # 1: ESPN Turns Off Ad Nets to Protect Brand, Content

(Read original article here)

Top Web publishers are planning a revolt. Even as more prominent sites experiment with selling remnant inventory through online ad networks, and in some cases ad exchanges, is saying thanks, but no thanks.

The site recently cut ties with Specific Media and several other unnamed ad networks, and is taking the bold stand that ad selling that relies heavily on arbitrage and algorithms is not for them.

“We’re heading down a path where it no longer suits our business needs to work with ad networks,” said Eric Johnson executive vp, multimedia sales, ESPN Customer Marketing and Sales. Sources say that ESPN would like to rally support from other publishers behind this move, and ultimately tamp down ad networks’ growth. Turner’s digital ad sales wing is rumored to be considering a similar move, though officials said no decisions are imminent.

ESPN’s decision crystallizes a philosophical debate in the online ad sales industry that has intensified since the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual meeting last month, when during a keynote address Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia media president Wenda Harris Millard gave her now famous warning against selling Web inventory like “pork bellies.”

Two sides have formed—those who want to protect traditional, direct selling of premium content brands, and the math-loving crowd which favors automation and data. The math lovers make the traditional sellers nervous.

-----Through my looking glass-----

5 years ago, We (Webshastra - India's first ad-network) created a model where marketers were offered "Audiences" rather than impressions. We never implemented it, but the need for something like this is apparent now.

As long as networks sell impressions and clicks, the above debate will continue. The moment they move to offering audiences to marketers, the differentiator sets in. Networks can leverage their reach across sites to create more accurate demographic profiles. (Cannot be done by individual sites). And create a marketing model where the point of touch (any site in the network) is compensated by the degree of influence it has on its audiences. So, while an ESPN can be very influential in reaching out to a sports lover, a site on literature may be more effective to reach out to a book lover. Compensation to the site can be based on this.

This also helps publishers monetize their content & relationship (with the visitor) in a better way. It moves away from a impression based metric to an audience based metric.

Publishers should focus on providing quality content that engages its visitors. Audience brokers should sell the ads!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An evening with Sri Sri Ravishankar

Our children study at the Sri Sri Ravishankar Vidya Mandir, and we attended the inauguration of their new campus. The campus is located at the outskirts of Bangalore.
The event included a ceremony to inaugurate the school, which was followed by a Satsang, a gathering of people along with devotional songs, and an opportunity to see Sri Sri Ravishankar, who was seated at the podium.

It was a proud moment for Manju and me as Aishwarya was part of a team of children who were chosen to sing a few shlokas. She showed amazing confidence.

While I have not done any Art of Living course, I believe the underlying message that the foundation intends to promote. Sri Sri spoke to the group in kannada, and rather than preach, he spoke about his trip to Nasik, and did also check with the organisers on what the prasad was. This is the kind of conversation one sees from people who are very simple in nature, no airs, no pride.

The other highlight of the evening was the fact that it drizzled all through. Ved, our 4 year old boy, was busy running all over the place in the rain. We all got drenched, and none of us fell sick after that. And we stop our kids when they want to play in the rain!.

I enjoyed this peaceful evening.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Crazy party as I turned 37

I got a surprise party last night. Had quite a few people from the delivery office in Bangalore at home. We partied on till 12 am. I havent had a party like this in years.
Thanks to Manju, my wife, who thought about this, and the whole team for helping out and for coming over.
Thank u all!