Terry Semel, Yahoo CEO, is optimistic about Yahoo’s purchase of Right Media, an advertising network. This, with Google’s recent aquisition of DoubleClick, may be the beginning of the end for agencies specializing in online (and eventually even offline) advertising as it will make it easier for companies large and small to manage their own advertising and relationships. The recent death of Zunch supports this idea although there may have been many other factors in that corporate meltdown.
Semel brings in the concept of *democracy* to advertising and this is a really interesting idea. Historically advertising industry has been driven by aggressive, emotional sales pitches to clients. Even major account activity may be driven less by careful analysis of ROI on campaigns and more by clever cocktail parties and perceptions of brand coolness.
I’d suggest that in most contexts the concept of “branding” is bogus. Sure, there are many global brands have major influence on consumer behavior, but it’s not clear to me that advertising campaigns do a lot to enhance sales based on these brands. There are surprisingly few high quality studies of this, partly because the power of branding is (foolishly) accepted as a maxim in and out of advertising circles. Google, now considered the world’s top brand, hardly spent a dime on branding advertising early on as it was rising to prominence. Google as brand matters a lot, but it’s not clear there is much benefit to *advertising* the brand.
Much of the truth about ads will shake out as these new advertising networks take hold of the marketplace, and it’s going to be a fascinating thing to watch. Using great free tools like Google Analytics, advertisers are already better able to measure campaign success than ever before, and are starting to hold publishers more accountable for results than for throwing good cocktail parties and making hip and cool presentations.
So I’m with Terry Semel – bring on the advertising democracy dudes!