Building a Better Mousetrap

One of the greatest things about an open economy is that anybody with a business idea can cultivate that idea and offer it to the marketplace. If the marketplace finds that product to be useful, then it can prosper and perhaps lay the groundwork for ideas that build upon it.

Online advertising has already seen many models built on its bedrock only to fall down again. Some have shown great promise; others have not. However, each new idea lays down a fresh layer of foundation for the ideas that will follow it.

It occurs to me that before anyone can come forth and state that she has the answer to the online marketing riddle — that is, how we can best market online — we first need to know what the question is.

If you ask most online marketers what they are looking for in their online advertising efforts, the answer will almost always be “results.” Though this answer might keep the board of directors happy, it needs to be defined much more clearly in the real world. When marketers talk about return on investment (ROI) in online advertising, are they referring to higher click-through, increased revenues, or data that shows branding increases?

It’s almost funny to read through the Web sites of companies who “finally” have the solution for making online advertising effective. Tag lines reading things like “Online Advertising That Works,” “Interactive Marketing That Gets Results,” and “The Future of Online Advertising” dot the Webscape. I’m waiting for somebody to be bold enough to use “You’ve Tried the Rest, Now Try the Best!” My suggestion is to back away from the hyperbole and start simply (and honestly) telling advertisers what you can do for them.

In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to look over several newer approaches to interactive communication. I’m not easily impressed any more, and much of what I see seems to be a rehash of existing technologies. If they’re going to be successful, the companies offering these solutions need to get a clearer picture of what it is that advertisers want. They also need to understand that advertisers don’t want to adopt grand new technologies to achieve those goals. Most advertisers just want to get their messages out to the right people and get responses that meet their needs affordably and easily — end of story.

In my searching, I have found some promise hiding out there in the form of companies that actually seem to understand the problem they’re trying to solve. Though I don’t intend to go out on a limb and state categorically that any one of them is going to save the world of online advertising, I think that many of the new companies struggling in the currently savage market deserve some recognition for what they are offering. One of these just might represent the future of online marketing.

Destiny Media Technologies

Destiny Media Technologies is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, and seems to be aiming at the future of the streaming advertising market — email. Now, although many of us might agree that email has been a nonstarter for many aspects of marketing, it’s also a heavily used medium that has yet to be fully explored. One of the reasons it has so much potential is because it allows communication with people in a form they are accustomed to corresponding in.

Destiny offers a Java-based solution for providing video and audio files within an email message. This universality means that the email can be seen by over 90 percent of the users who receive it with no need for any additional technology. The initial email size is just a few kilobytes, but when the user clicks on the email to open it, additional content streams to him fairly quickly. I like that the server “sniffs” the user’s current connect speed and provides a different-sized video based on bandwidth.

Though none of this is brand new, it is well implemented. Give Destiny a peek.

Poindexter Systems

I have long said that if you can’t get the right message to the right person, then you are wasting your time and money. This seems to be the idea on which Poindexter Systems is basing its offering. Poindexter offers data collection that allows marketers to have a better shot at reaching the intended audience. The company is using techniques such as ad routing and dynamic ad building, striving to make every ad a wanted ad. Dynamic ad building allows marketers to incorporate fresh data, such as news headlines and stock market tickers, as well as customizable information, such as name and geographical location. Ad routing refers to a process in which different versions of an ad are sent to different members of the audience based on their demographics, interests, and so on.

TMXinteractive

Lest we forget that advertising is about communicating, TMXinteractive reminds us that if you know whom you want to reach, there are plenty of creative ways to do so.

TMX offers a suite of tools to help with the process. I am never one to recommend that marketers load up with a little more software, but I do think that we need to expand our current toolset. TMX provides ways to target marketing, implement one-to-one marketing approaches, deliver streaming video and audio, send interactive ads, and offer e-coupons. The company’s worth looking over.

There are no certainties for the future of online marketing, but I think most of us agree that it won’t be going away, either. Between here and there, we will eventually establish better ways of marketing online. These ideas could form the foundation.

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