There appears to be a growing trend among content publishers of using targeting technologies to focus and solidify their relationships with their customers, rather than passing customer data to their ad network ecosystem. Although the benefits of this type of process shift seems obvious, you wonder what took publishers so long to figure this out.
The core driver of a relationship with a consumer is the product or service purchased (and I define this as the entirety of the relationship, the product includes advertising, the product or service itself, any supporting documentation, the website, customer service, basically any interaction between the consumer and the provider is part of the product). In the context of this trend, it refers specifically to publisher content; the parameters and content that defines my search for a specific piece of information or publication speaks volumes about who I am, and is one of the most valuable elements of consumer data available. The consumer’s interaction with the publisher’s content is effectively handing the key to the kingdom to the publisher. The publishers then, oddly enough, immediately toss this data to the ad networks, where it immediately becomes diluted, taken out of context, and resold over and over.
There is a hierarchy of intimacy in any consumer transaction; the most direct connection is when it is just the buyer and seller, the least direct is when multi-channel or advertising networks enter the equation. The more entities involved in the transaction, the more diluted the relationship becomes, because more people are getting their little piece of the consumer. Because publishers are the source, they are in the perfect position to establish pompetus (my favorite term, explained on my post for 1.24.09). Depending on what the publisher is offering (and we’ll skip the most obvious example), they have an unprecedented opportunity to genuinely connect with the customer. Why in the world would a publisher give something that valuable to an ad network? Money? They can make way more money by hanging onto the information and cultivating a profitable long-term relationship on their own. The ad networks are already picking up vast quantities of information as consumer troll the web, the additional data the publishers provide is a relative drop in the bucket to the ad network, but a relative gold mine to the publisher. It looks like publishers are finally starting to figure this out, and given the overall trends in publishing, not a moment too soon.