Don Marti

Tue 31 Jul 2012 07:24:46 AM PDT

Adtech stinks.

Derek Thompson: Time to Admit What We Already Knew: Online Ads Stink. "Every single major tech and business story this week was the same story: Even companies with 100 million, 700 million, and 900 million free users don't know what to do about Internet advertising."

That's a good point, and that's even before the Facebook bot frenzy. But it looks like the real problem isn't the general idea of advertising on the internet, but the rat hole that we've gotten ourselves into with increasingly precise targeting. The better that ad targeting in a medium gets, the worse the ad medium works overall. Which is why radio and print pull in an oversized share of ad budgets, and web and mobile underperform.

Mike Downey, Vice President of Mobile Solutions for OpenX, has some advice for advertisers that should look familar by now. Real-time bidding is the next mobile ad breakthrough—here’s how you can profit. The answer, of course, is to collect more data, and throw more math at the problem.

We are seeing signals from our exchange that granular geo targeting is becoming a primary driver of bidding behavior in mobile. Publishers that are able to pass a longitude and latitude are seeing more than a 50% premium on their inventory. If you listen to the free version of Pandora on your mobile device you might have noticed that Panera Bread is selling sandwiches at lunchtime. The holy grail of driving local commerce via digital media seems to be getting closer and is eminently achievable with mobile.

(Yes, another knight of adtech seeks the holy grail.)

John Battelle, in Who’s On First? (A Modest Proposal To Solve The Problem with First- and Third-Party Marketing), wants site-by site control of third-party tracking. "I think we all already wear 'electronic clothing' that follows us around, and we seem to be unaware of it. That has to change." Battelle is a board member of the IAB. Bonus link from the same source: My, How the CMO Has Changed. General Motors has a "central video wall sporting constantly updated feeds reflecting consumer sentiment about GM and its brands."

Lois Beckett on ProPublica: Dark Money Political Groups Target Voters Based on Their Internet Habits. "Even when Internet users are sophisticated enough to spot a targeted ad, as Lauren Berns did, it is almost impossible for them to find out why a certain organization is targeting them—or what data about them is being used." (Just in case you needed another scare story about filter bubbles and creepy tracking.)

Extreme privacy measures from JR Conlin: Lying to the Internet. "My fake person gets her own browser (or browser profile for those that support it) where she is logged in to sites various sites long enough for me to get what i want and then leave. i tend to use her when visiting new sites to poke at things and see if that site has earned my trust (or at least provided enough value that i feel i could use it). Most of the time, the answer is 'no'."

I don't think we should all go as far as Conlin does, but if we redesign norms, infrastructure, and client software to make tracking less accurate, we're going to see both more total spending on Internet advertising and a larger share of that flowing through to publishers.