Don Marti

Wed 28 May 2014 07:02:38 AM PDT

Leaving money on the table

It's that time again. The latest Internet Trends Report, from Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, is out.

The question I always have about this report, year after year, is: why does print advertising bring in so much money compared to the online kind?

The 2011 numbers in the 2012 version have print at 7% of time spent and 25% of ad spending.

For 2012, print has 6% of the time and 23% of the money.

As of 2013, print is 5% of the time and 19% of the money.

The amount of time that people spend on print is declining, but print advertising is consistently more valuable per user minute than web and mobile advertising.


Maybe John Battelle has part of the answer.

Using programmatic tools, a media buyer can identify almost any audience segment they want with pinpoint precision – down to the exact cookie or data segment that matches a customer target. And for various reasons, including price, those audience members are targeted mainly on who they are, independently of what they are doing. Put another way, we buy audiences, but we aren’t buying the show they’re watching – we’re ignoring where that impression is served.

This is nuts.

It's not just context. An ad medium that requires ads to be attached to content, not targeted to the user, carries a signal that a user-targeted ad can't. (more on that) Direct mail, telemarketing, junk faxes, email spam, and user-targeted web ads can't perform the role that a print ad can. Richard Stacy explains it best: The great thing about advertising is that no-one takes it personally. If we want "great" (and the money we're leaving on the table) we have to be able to walk away from "creepy."