Monday, December 08, 2008

My Online Eyeballs

I'm a huge fan of Fred Wilson. Have been from the first time I ever read his words.

Lately, he's wrote a little something on an area that I generally ignore but had been catching my eye. Specifically, this post was about the challenges and opportunities with online advertising.

Most of the time, I tend to put my energy into learning about and understanding other areas of technology or trends, but lately I've become more interested. This is mostly because I have friends that work in various segments of advertising and those specializing in the online space have had interesting things to say.

One of the great things about Fred is that no matter whether I agree or not, he brings up the salient and pivotal points of the subject matter with precision and elegance. This is how I would want to write if I could write the way I want. Witness:

Analog and digital, it turns out, are polar opposites. Analog has physical costs which lead to scarcity driven business models. Digital has zero marginal cost (or near zero) which leads to ubiquity driven business models.
- from Trading Analog Dollars For Digital Pennies by Fred Wilson

The remainder of the article is a succinct primer proving once again that smart people are in fact out in the world, kicking ass and taking names. And then there are geniuses who take the time to write about it for the rest of us.

What struck me in this discussion is not the conclusion (in any logical progression that's typically the boring part), it was how subtly he separates two behemoths that are often deemed inseparable and treated as such. Too often, I find myself in the discussion with an educated person who is waving theirs hands about the effort it will take to "move more of our advertising to the web". Or some such nonsense. They fail to understand that the basic economics, motivators, and operating principles for digital consumers is completely different. When I listen to a "marketing person" talk about how a platform will have "captive eyeballs" or "impressions" I realize immediately I am talking to someone who doesn't get it.

This was made real in conversation with a buddy of mine recently about some time after Wii Music hit the stores. His introductory comment:
I own a Wii. I love music. How did I not know about this?
Hmm, lets think about this. When I consider his lifestyle it is like many of my friends. He uses Firefox with ad-blocking software, watches tv only online and usually just via netflix streaming, listens to pandora or online music, works from home/coffee shops, and doesn't drive. No wonder it slipped under his radar.

If you want to get his attention (or mine, or most of my friends) you need to leverage the things we do care about and the media we do invest in. Simply running ads on blogs won't find a growing hoard of us. Put that information IN that same blog and then we'll be all over it.

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