As more and more ad dollars come online in 2009, advertisers will naturally follow the consumers. So, where are the consumers? Or, to put it a finer point on it, who controls the largest share of ad units?
The Standard Oil Of Online Advertising?
Henry Blodget writes in Silicon Valley Insider that Google is going to “continue an inexorable march to 80–90% share” of the search market. As of November 2008, they controlled 63.5%, up from their October share of 63.3% while Microsoft, Ask and AOL have all seen their shares decline. Seriously guys, pull it together or Blodget’s ominous prediction may come true.
On the display side it’s more of the same. A recent Attributor study shows Doubleclick (owned by Google) and AdSense (ditto) control a collective 57% of the display market. Granted, AdSense displays three text ads per unit so those numbers are inflated, but by comparison Yahoo! — a premier publisher and one of the most visited sites on the planet — has only 9.7%. Microsoft, which owns Atlas, has a meager 4%. As I said earlier, pull it together (or merge once and for all) or you’re toast.
What’s An Advertiser To Do?
It goes without saying that advertisers reach the most targeted audience they can find at the best possible price. However, one of the many downsides to this consolidation is rising CPC and CPM costs. We can’t afford to pay more for the same amount of traffic we were getting yesterday, simply because the publisher market is consolidating.
Advertisers need to dig a little deeper than just following the eyeballs. They need to take an objective view on where they spend their money. What’s converting the best? How are you measuring social media, mobile, video, email, affiliate traffic, paid search, organic search and so on? How are you attributing your conversions across all of these channels?
Don’t just blindly follow the market trends and overpay for ads. Measure, test and optimize. This may already be the advertiser’s mantra, but as the market forces work against us in the coming years it will need to become our way of life.