Once upon a time, advertisements graced the last pages of popular novels. The static print media format made it nearly impossible for the creatives to remain relevant, and some authors objected to a perceived commercialization of their art. Consequently, publishers stopped incorporating ads into books during the 1960s.
But thanks to the increasing demand for e-books, marketers are reconsidering this platform’s utility. This dynamic medium has tons of potential in terms of generating revenue. For example, e-books are capable of supporting content updates. That means the available space can be used on a temporary basis by numerous companies. The fresh content will guarantee views and give firms a chance to work with multiple partners through a single text.
Obviously, there will be some purist authors and readers raising objections. They will contend that ads may distract readers; this concern misunderstands the purpose of such campaigns altogether. No one wants to interrupt the reader’s experience with flashy or obnoxious content. On the contrary, subdued graphics will add value via high tech targeting techniques. Companies employ demographic data and personal information to specifically tailor content that would be of interest to a particular individual. That means no random junk, just sleek displays based on the reader’s known interests.
Despite these unobtrusive models, some industry professionals caution that e-books will face considerable opposition. That’s why many e-book retailers are planning on giving the titles with ads away for free. This incentive will likely entice wary consumers into taking the plunge. Other ideas include incorporating QR ads that give readers access to exclusive deals, author interviews, or movie tie-ins. The product placement is probably going to make or break the venture, and finding the appropriate balance could be tricky. It sounds tempting to relegate ads to the dedication pages, table of contents, etc., but the decreased visibility would kill their profitability, too. QR ads placed around the page borders wouldn’t break the reader’s concentration, yet the content remains in plain view. No matter how marketers end up packaging them, this exciting opportunity opens up uncharted territory in the world of digital advertising.
Every profession benefits from marketing, but some career-oriented organizations frown on the practice for various reasons. Doctors and lawyers in particular are subject to this ridiculous stigma that conducting advertising campaigns is somehow unethical or amateurish. The state of New York went so far as to craft special regulations aimed at television ads for legal services, or at least, they tried to. The proposed legislation would have been a blanket ban on a wide variety of lucrative tactics, such as incorporating client testimonials, using nicknames to indicate the firm’s success rate, parodies of judges, entertaining depictions of attorney-client relations, and other supposedly “misleading” practices.
Naturally, the attorneys at Alexander & Catalano challenged the statute prima facie on First Amendment grounds. Commercial speech does not currently enjoy the same protections as those of non-commercial expression, but the gap narrowed substantially in light of the Court’s landmark ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the attorney’s favor, solidifying their confidence in consumer common sense. Today the Supreme Court followed suit by denying cert in this case.
Several media outlets are correctly identifying this as an important win in the fight for free speech. At the same time, they are misrepresenting the Court’s actions. A cert denial does not indicate agreement on behalf of the Justices. While statistical evidence demonstrates that they are more likely to hear a case that they will ultimately reverse, a cert denial says nothing about their collective opinions on its merits or the legal issues involved. It’s impossible to determine why the Justices chose not to rule on this matter, and simply assuming concurrence is tantamount to false reporting. Perhaps the concerned officials should consider implementing a set of rules to prevent unverifiable claims in journalism, especially when the text concerns topics of vital public interest, such as the justice system.
Privacy advocates are making considerable headway when it comes to behavioral targeting online. The Wall Street Journal’s famous expose on the subject of tracking cookies kick started a national debate over the scope of internet advertising. This prompted a Federal Trade Commission report that delved into the perceived problem in order to identify potential solutions. Among their suggestions are an official Do Not Track List, akin to the Do Not Call List that’s being ignored by telemarketers nationwide, as well as a browser based mechanism to facilitate consume choice.
Yesterday, Microsoft stepped into the forefront in terms of early compliance with pending legislation. The company announced that Internet Explorer 9 will include a so-called “tracking protection” feature that pinpoints and subsequently blocks unwanted pixels. Additionally, IE9 will feature a “tracking protection list”. While this sounds rather simplistic, it is designed to combat the latent functions of the web 2.0 experience by disabling third party data sharing. The list will consist of sites that won’t have access to the user’s information unless he or she visits them on purpose.
Participation is voluntary, although consumers should make an informed decision before rushing into anything. Be aware that enabling the safeguards carries its own set of consequences. For example, this might render some sites useless or restrict access to a wide variety of content. Almost every website relies on these types of partnerships and many major retailers employ retargeting technology. IE9’s platform permits users to be selective about whom they choose to ignore, but accessing the more advanced settings could prove difficult for some people.
Overall, these discussions should not alarm those in the online marketing industry. The web thrives on free content because of advertising; nothing short of a paid internet is going to alter that dynamic. Besides, the new IE9 system is eerily similar to the Firefox add-on AdBlock, which has been available for a while now. Roughly 12 million people have downloaded it, though there’s no telling how many of them still utilize the software. Firefox is currently the #1 browser, so the folks at Microsoft are basically trying to play catch up. Another possibility involves Microsoft trying to convince the government that this market is capable of policing itself.
Consumers and companies alike find themselves focusing on the environmental impact of their daily activities. Going green has become more than a mere trend; eco-conscious alternatives to traditional business models typically save money and provide excellent PR opportunities. Most of these efforts revolve around sustainable energy solutions at the expense of less obvious issues. Almost everything affects the natural world in some way, including marketing ventures. Thankfully, a UK company developed a tool to accurately measure the carbon footprint of an advertising campaign.
Created by Starcom MediaVest, CarbonTrack is capable of tracking a campaign’s emissions from start to finish. This allows companies to assess their practices from a previously ignored standpoint. The data will help them identify problem areas and truly understand the consequences of their actions. Of course, it will be impossible to determine how many mailers people toss into the street; such behavior represents a potential secondary effect of relying on print media. There are some factors that simply cannot be accounted for. Nevertheless, CarbonTrack has enormous potential to transform this industry from both the supply and demand sides of the equation.
For the first time, corporations will be able to come up with a detailed cost benefit analysis from an ecological perspective. This sophisticated technology will likely produce surprising results wherein companies set emissions goals and discover innovative ways to meet the established targets. The raw numbers will remain confidential, so no one needs to worry about being branded a big polluter for participating. At the same time, sharing the ugly truth could inspire a friendly competition between professionals as to who can create the most effective campaign with minimal environmental repercussions. Companies may also share the figures with their partners in order to develop better strategies on a collaborative basis.
Advertising agencies, for their part, have a fresh angle to pursue when attracting potential clients. They will be able to use lower emission standards as a selling point and demonstrate their effectiveness via a verifiable, third party database. Clients with initially high carbon footprints should be considered a lucrative challenge to marketers interested in branding themselves as green gurus. Later, the heavy polluters might serve as case studies for successful implementation. Here’s hoping everyone realizes the benefits of digital i.e. paperless advertising en masse!