In an Ideal World: An Interactive Media Wish List

I approached some of my staff members this week with the following query:

Tell me some of your frustrations with online media. If you could issue a challenge to our industry, something that would make your job better and easier, what would that be?

Some interesting conversations resulted. A sample of the topics that came up follows.

We need syndicated research tools that deliver better demographic and psychographic information, as well as competitive information.

We looked at Nielsen//NetRatings’s @Plan and AdRelevance, and MRI. The type and amount of data available through MRI as compared to @Plan is dramatically different. As one person put it, “While search engines/sites and ad servers are constantly improving their technology, the tools we use to start and support a media plan are stuck in a time warp.”

It’s not like @Plan and AdRelevance are standing still. AdRelevance is working on ways to hone in on a realistic spending number by identifying average rates for different categories. But even that won’t provide the most accurate data.

We need real spending numbers from AdRelevance. We must be able to see text links and streaming video ads and all rich media ads (such as Eyeblaster’s). We need to see not only the sites competitors’ ads ran on but the placements, too.

Someday we will. Can we help it if we want someday to get here more quickly?

We need better ways to target by market.

One of our media directors commented:

IP address targeting is a bit of a myth, since the IP address someone uses isn’t necessarily the best indicator of location. According to a January report from DoubleClick’s knowledge base, AOL users all come from one IP address, and all appear to be from Virginia.

One of our content guys shot back:

IP address targeting is not a myth… it just has some limitations. AOL users are one of those limitations, but a good majority of users can be targeted by IP addresses. Google’s regional targeting program follows DMAs [designated market areas] invented by the AC Nielsen Company to define television markets. This targets down to counties or split counties. Google currently maps to 210 designated marketing areas.

Digital Envoy has partnered with a number of publishers and servers to deliver more accurate geotargeting, targeting anonymous users based on continent, country, state, county, city or township, postal code, area code, ISP, domain, and time zone. Great strides are being made in this arena — we’re not saying they aren’t. We’re saying… well, let my media director address that point:

As we’ve done IP targeting for media buys through ad servers, we’ve seen other AOL-like instances that sites/ad servers explain as IP address targeting, where that targeting is not absolute. Once AOL users are segmented out, DoubleClick acknowledges there’s still a margin of error at state and area code level in their geotargeting. We have one client who wants a 100 percent guarantee that their media buys are only in certain markets… and currently, we cannot guarantee that. We talk a lot about how we can geotarget. But my point is we have to be realistic about how absolute that is and perhaps look for better ways to do that. It bugs me because direct mail can do this (and does all the time — all the time), but we can’t really with online media buys.

We need a management system for all our PPC search campaigns that integrates fully with all search engines.

Both Google and Overture have proprietary tools that allow users to manage and optimize pay-per-click (PPC) search campaigns. They refine and add to those tools all the time. What agencies are really looking for is an ad-server-like model for keywords in which search engines are as integrated with the tool as content sites are with ad servers, where you can track and optimize campaigns on multiple engines through one tool.

In an ideal world, the search engines would open their technology to third-party tools instead of trying to develop proprietary systems that make the advertiser’s job harder because we’re trying to match reports and methodologies.

The best Google proprietary tool in the world will work only for Google, but we still have to aggregate data from Overture, Kanoodle, and FindWhat.com.

My intent in issuing these challenges isn’t to ensure my inbox is barraged with email from @Plan, AdRelevance, geotargeting companies, or Google. Rather, it’s to get a conversation started, to voice some concerns and wishes, and to echo some conversations we’ve had at the agency I work for.

How do we, agencies and partners, work together to arrive at the digital utopia I asked my coworkers to envision? I invite you to join the conversation.

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