Pedantic startup advice: Buy low and sell high.
It sounds simple, but it requires that you work on commercial opportunities when they are the LEAST popular: when the most herd-like VCs think you are an idiot, when good investors offer terrible deals, and when you need to find actual revenue. It is also when many large companies are forced to cut budgets and act more conservatively. The web was commercially a joke in the mid-90s until banner ads arrived on the scene, and Google’s search advertising was launched in the depths of the DotCom Bust.
New forms of online marketing will prove worthwhile during this downturn too. Subscription revenues, virtual goods, and app store sales are all great, both those sectors will get increasingly competitive – and launch marketing programs for user acquisition. That’s just a single example. Video advertising is taking off but the repeatable scaleable solution is not yet obvious. The same is true for landing page optimization, social ads, etc., etc.
The trick is imposing network control. Both publishers and advertisers and advertisers need to do so. Controlling your ad serving, user profiling, and data distribution are critical to driving revenue. The state of the tools has moved to where small marketers and publishers can afford this control. For advertisers control means direct purchases of ad media, and for publishers it means direct sales.
It also means audiences – defining visitors as a coherent group who can be addressed anywhere on the web, not only on your site. Audiences have more influences than the individual properties they frequent, are addressable across the web, and are worth a lot more money. Defining, targeting, and serving media on an audience basis requires new application of existing advertising technologies – the same ones that are now available economically and logistically to companies large and small.
Two leaders in the online ad space, Tim Cadogan of OpenX and Scott Rafer of Lookery, will share their thoughts on the state of the advertising market and what opportunities you can take advantage of.
Scott Rafer has been helping Internet publishers and users take advantage of the latest technologies and trends since 1995. Today, that means delivering services for social publishing and discovery. As CEO of Lookery, Rafer is creating an ad network and user-targeting service that supports the growth of social applications, starting with Facebook. He is also co-founder of Mashery, which manages API and developer programs for web services providers, and chairman of Winksite, which makes it easy for individuals as well as big publishers to share media across mobile and social networks. Earlier, Rafer was CEO of MyBlogLog until Yahoo! acquired the company in January 2007. Prior to MyBlogLog, he twice tried and failed to build blog search companies—in 1998 and 2003. Before the first dotcom boom, Rafer led the Internet products group at Kodak Hollywood, worked in investment banking, and graduated from the Management of Technology program at UPenn. For Rafer’s latest thoughts and activities, check out blog.lookery.com or rafer.tumblr.com.
Tim Cadogan is the chief executive officer of OpenX. OpenX’s purpose is to help businesses worldwide grow by providing compelling, open online advertising products and services that drive revenues. Today, OpenX’s primary product is the world’s leading independent ad server, which is used by more than 35,000 publishers on more than 150,000 websites across the Internet. More than 300 billion ad impressions run through OpenX software every month. OpenX is used by websites in more than 100 countries around the world and has been translated by its community of users into 25 languages. OpenX is headquartered in Pasadena with offices in London and Poznan, Poland.
From 2003-2008 Tim was at Yahoo!, most recently as Senior Vice President of Global Advertising Marketplaces overseeing the primary advertising product lines at the company – including Display, Search and Video. Previously at Yahoo!, Tim was Vice President of Search where he was responsible for both the consumer search and paid search businesses. Prior to Yahoo!, Tim was Vice President of Search at Overture (formerly GoTo.com) where he spent four years (1999-2003). At Overture, Tim played several roles, including driving product development and evangelizing the paid search model to the global search and portal industry. During 1999-2002, Overture transformed online advertising by pioneering the paid search auction marketplace model, securing landmark partnerships with AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft and many others and thus successfully building the largest search ad network in the world at the time.
Before GoTo, Tim was a strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group in London and McKinsey & Co in Palo Alto. Tim earned his B.S. from The London School of Economics, his M.Phil from Oxford University and his MBA from Stanford University.
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