HomeBlogTake Aways: The State of Contextual Advertising

The State of Contextual Advertising at CRS

Published November 5, 2009

This morning, as some of you know, I was on a panel named The State of Contextual Advertising: USA vs. Global Trends, Strategic Overview and Emerging Trends. The conference is part of ad:tech, but is named Content Revenue Strategies, which is focused on the contextual market, including ways to monetize content on the web.

I drove to the Javits Center this morning, arrived about 7:10am, and sprinted to the speaker room. I then popped on my MiFi router, got onto the Internet and worked for about an hour and half from the speaker room. Then it was time to go to the session, to sit on the panel.

Marc Phillips was the moderator of the panel. He knows a heck of a lot on this space and is very well liked in the industry. He led the open panel with lots of quality questions that drove some interesting conversation amongst the panelists. The panelists included Tim Cadogan the CEO of OpenX (formerly known as PHP Ads New and Tim was a senior VP at Yahoo), Sandy Kory VP of Media Venture Partners (a venture capital guy who gets it), Patrick Keane the CEO of Associated Content (huge content network), Jane Kim from Advertising.com (she has a ton of history in this space) and myself.

So what topics did we discuss? Going by memory of the session, we covered some of the best ways to monetize a content site. Tim mentioned that generally, direct ads yield a higher CPM than contextual or other ads. Most, if not all, of the panelists agreed. There is a lot to make on contextual ads through companies like Google AdSense. But the main take away is to test the various methods. Keep in mind the source of traffic to a page can determine which revenue model is best. Some times AdSense does better than direct ads, but direct ads in general are the best bet (if you can sell them).

We talked about how OpenX works as an ad publishing and management tool. It is incredibly flexible and is completely open for developers to add into. I personally used OpenX back when it was PHP Ads New, that is until I switched to Google Ad Manager primarily to save on server resources and time it takes to patch the software with updates. But Ad Manager has fewer features than OpenX. OpenX and Ad Manager both can run both AdSense, direct ads and other ad platforms. These softwares can display one or many ad types based on many variables, which can lead to higher dollars for publishers.

We talked about how contextual ads differ from search ads. Contextual ads normally have a different intent than someone performing a query in a search box and being showed ads based on that query. With contextual ads, you are shown ads based on the content you are reading. You see, the intent is different. However, you can have people who land on your content from a search query and then be displayed a contextual ad that is very actionable.

We then spoke about real time search and how to leverage Twitter to drive traffic to your site. Non of us knew how Twitter would monetize themselves, but we all agreed Twitter is a great way to drive more eye balls to your sites, and a great way to communicate with your readers and customers.

Mobile was the next topic. The most interesting take away I had from this talk was when Tim said 20-30% of OpenX prospects are interested in deploying mobile ads through the ad software. Mobile is growing tremendously, with iPhone, Android and the Pre and mobile content consumption is huge. Patrick Keane said about 10% of Google usage is done via the mobile these days (I think he said something like that, again hard to take notes while on the panel). Jane Kim said mobile is great but content publishers still need to focus on where most the money is being made and that is via normal web browsing. I then spoke about Google's beta Google AdSense for Mobile Applications and how much better this ad network is than AdMob and the likes (at least in terms of revenue generation platforms.

I am sure I am missing some of the topics we covered, but that is what I remember off the top of my head.

Finally, thank you Marc and ad:Tech for the awesome "emergency turbo phone chargers." Those are the gifts they gave to the speakers. Here is a picture:

adTech mobile phone charger

Here is a picture of me on the panel, I am on the right side, in the blue shirt:

Barry Schwartz at Content Revenue Strategies

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Barry Schwartz is the CEO of RustyBrick, a New York Web service firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales. Barry is also the founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and the News Editor of Search Engine Land. He is well known & respected for his expertise in the search marketing industry. Barry graduated from the City University of New York and lives with his family in the NYC region.

This article is under Search Engine Optimization, Sponsorships & Community

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