Friday, July 25, 2008

Are you Ad Ready or Not?

In what is surely the second sign of the online advertising apocalypse (the first being the rise of Google), here comes AdReady.

AdReady lets you--as in anyone--create an online banner ad, deploy it, and track it. If you are a small business, (or a large one with internal marketing minions) the promise is appealing: you have control.

IN addition to the cost-reduction message, AdReady is also selling the spot-on notion of realtime message/concept testing.

Of course one can question the viability of the entire notion of display advertising online (like this, this and this), but that's a cry in the wild for now. Rather, one might ask whether this trend in do-it-yourself advertising (see Google's AdPlanner and the Spot Runner company as examples) is any different than do it yourself anything?

Like do it yourself home improvement, or do it yourself surgery, some people have an 'I can do it' attitude in the extreme...others will choose to have someone else do it for them. The decision to go Nike or to have someone else do it for you may boil down to an assessment of risk vs. reward (e.g., cost savings, cost avoidance, ego gratification). And if the only value a client sees in their ad vendors--um, I mean Partners--is the ability to manipulate the means of production, well this is for them: price pressure.

It will become harder to justify pricing for agency services at levels that are higher than the do-it-yourself models...especially if the differentiation is based on the subjective notion of expertise or creativity. As do it yourself advertising marches forward, in multiple forms, expect continued downward pricing on traditional ad services providers.

So what's one to do? Being able to demonstrate the real dollar ROI of your role as a partner will be one thing. Having some skin in the client's game, via risk sharing agreements and pay for performance models, might tilt the balance too. In the end, doing more than talking about brand advertising and its value will be the only way to avoid sliding down the commoditized pricing bunny hole.

For a guided tour of the AdReady platform see this (interesting that in the section on metrics they show a banner ad with a 0.40% click thru rate!).

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