Since this column has to hold through the holidays, it needs a big idea.
The idea starts with a mystery: How is it the Web ad slump continues, while e-commerce revenues rocket ahead?
The answer is: The Web is not the Internet.
The Web is a great publishing medium and acts as a glue binding many services together, but it's not the whole game. Even email isn't the whole game -- much recent email advertising seems to consist of downloaded Web pages.
Non-Web advertising was well supported in 2001, and this is something content managers must remember when planning for 2002.
WeatherBug is a great example. It's a free application that streams weather information onto users' desktops. Andy Jedynak, vice president of business development for AWS Inc., its creator, said WeatherBug has over 7 million users. That's more than the weather.com, he claims.
A paid version of WeatherBug is available, but Jedynak says a survey of 20,000 users indicates that they not only prefer the free version but also value and enjoy the accompanying ads.
These come in what Jedynak terms a "BrandWrap," which gives advertisers lots of space to create memorable images without getting in the way of content.
Since everyone gets weather no matter where they live, ads can be very narrowly targeted geographically. "We can target by Zip Code to DSL advertisers," Jedynak said. Sweet.
"Executed software is a great place to advertise," he concluded. Amen to that.
I found several other examples.
CyberDrawer is somewhat similar. Spokesman John Wise compares it to a kitchen drawer for coupons. It works with Outlook's calendar function to remind people when e-coupons are about to expire.
While Web advertisers are moving toward more intrusive formats, from Shoshkeles that bounce around a page to mouse-over banners and buttons that expand when your cursor rolls over them, much more is coming outside the Web.
Both Real and Microsoft are looking to improve the ad capability of their players, not only to generate revenue that can support music but also to create a better user experience and a better format for advertisers.
I believe you'll see many more opportunities along these lines in 2002. Some will hold a promise of saving content that would otherwise disappear, either by putting it in front of readers for longer periods or by building dynamic ad formats around content that can justify a cost per thousand (CPM).
Your assignment over the New Year holiday is to noodle around with these ideas, find formats I haven't mentioned, and pass word of them along. Come up with your own ideas for framing content to satisfy the needs of advertisers and users alike.
The early days of the Web and email may be over, but these are only two pieces of the Internet puzzle. Many more are waiting to be found.
See you next year.
eBusiness Report will return on Monday, January 7th. Happy holidays from ClickZ!
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Dana Blankenhorn has been a business reporter for more than 20 years. He has written parts of five books and currently contributes to Advertising Age, Business Marketing, NetMarketing, the Chicago Tribune, Boardwatch, CLEC Magazine, and other publications. His own newsletter, A-Clue.Com, is published weekly.
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