The Future of Advertising
Advertising on the web has been rather stagnant over the past five years or so – not many new innovations have been made. It’s safe to say we are pretty much passed the annoying pop-up/under ads (on most legitimate sites, at least) and seizure causing banner ads stage of the game. However, for the most part we have been using the same old model based on text, links, static images, and now more we have been seeing a steady increase in dynamic image ads.
Let’s take a look at Google’s approach when it comes to serving ads online. Google’s strategy for serving ads is quite simple – it revolves around the three main factors that Google has been focusing on since day one; relevancy, speed, and user-friendliness. You search something on Google and are presented with sponsored links on part of the page along with the actual search results. Additionally, Google has expanded their Content (Ad) Network to other websites on the web via their AdSense program. Google’s Content Network reaches approximately 75% of global Internet users. Let’s not forget that Google also provides ads in traditional media (TV, Radio) as well. So what am I getting at?
The way that advertisements on the web have evolved over the past few years has been rather interesting. Three major things we have seen include the move towards relevant advertisements, the explosion in mobile (advertisements, search, and more recently location based services), and growth in video based advertisements. All of these changes in online advertising happened due to changes in the way people use the web. Recently Google introduced their Ad Innovation campaign to make advertising more useful. The new campaign includes promotion of some great new features including Remarketing and Location Extensions.
While all of these things are great for advertisers – it seems that the most natural phenomenon that has occurred on the web lately has been completely ignored. That being, sharing. Even Google seems to have an interest in sharing – look at Buzz. So why hasn’t anyone taken advantage of this? People love to share things on the web. So what if advertisements were shareable? You heard me. All Google would have to do is build a relatively simple sharing mechanism on top of all their ads being served by an already existing AdSense and AdWords platform.
I’m going to call this new feature Google AdShare to keep it simple. How does it work? Google AdShare will allow the consumer to share ads on the Internet powered by Google AdSense and/or DoubleClick with the click of a button. By allowing consumers to share ads (provided it’s simple and easy to do) over email, IM, and various social networks including (but not limited to) Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, and MySpace will facilitate a better ROI for the advertiser especially due to the product being recommended by a friend or colleague. The ability to share ads will also incentivize the advertiser to create better, more relevant, and more attractive ads.
Google could also use AdShare to reward consumers who share ads which convert into sales/signups by providing them with a commission, reward points, and free stuff. Google could create partnerships with already existing advertisers to provide the reward points to receive discounts on their own products. This type of system can even be tied in Google Checkout to create an even more seamless experience for the customer. Of course, everything (shares, commissions, points, free stuff) would be tracked under each customer’s Google account.
Eventually Google could move the idea into every day life (e.g. sharing advertisements seen and/or heard on TV, magazines, newspapers, radio and even direct products) through already existing technology (Apps, Camera, GPS) in smart phones such as the iPhone, Palm Pre, and of course Android based phones. Imagine if every advertisement ran through the Google Ad Network and could be shared with anyone, anywhere, at anytime.