Friday, June 1, 2012

Two new developments in digital advertising could have a huge impact on the state of the industry : Google and Local Retail, Microsoft's IE 10 and Do Not Track

I've had two conversations with advertising professionals today that were a combination of fear and anger. One involved a local media pro who couldn't understand why Google could move into local digital advertising, but his own media property couldn't. The other was with a digital advertising exec who wanted to cut the heads off the Microsoft management team, for reasons that will become apparent later in this post.

If you've read this post on The Guardian's site you have an idea what is going on at Google. The post by Amanda Holpuch outlines the search giant's plans for integrating its Zagat acquisition into Google+ Local.

The purchase of Zagat essentially gave Google local content, which the company hopes to eventually exploit through local advertising. The secret, I believe, to the formula, is to do it in a social way, exploiting the input for local customers so that an audience can be built and local businesses might be drawn in.

Here is Google's own video on Google+ Local:

The Guardian sees the new feature as a threat to "online review organizations", but I'm not so sure about that. There are plenty of other review sites that piece things together in a different manner that probably wouldn't be adversely effected – I'm thinking of TripAdvisor, for instance.

My local media contact, though, was none too happy with Google. For him, someone who is trying desperately to motivate his newspaper company to take mobile seriously, he sees the move as yet another threat. It isn't so much that Google will steal audience and advertisers from his company's efforts, its that Google is trying and his company, he believes, isn't.

"I try and talk to the management about geotargeted local advertising and all I get is blank stares back. Hell, my boss still has a bloody flip phone." (Actually, I don't think he used those exact words, but you get the idea.)

But if the newspaper ad guy was frustrated, the digital ad pro I talked to this morning was furious. She had just learned that Microsoft had announced that its next version of Internet Explorer, IE 10, would be released with the "Do Not Track" (DNT) feature turned on by default.

This ad pro sells digital advertising to brands to want their ads targeted. DNT poses a very real threat.

The DNT feature does not turn off cookies, though. But there is an effort to get websites to acknowledge the DNT command.

I have my doubts that sites will voluntarily become essentially blind. But if Microsoft's browser continues to see its market share tumble it may not be an important development in any case. One can not imagine Google as joining Microsoft in moving towards DNT as a default setting.

But ad folk are suddenly wide awake to the threat.