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Adam Gerber on advertising business models

with Don Schechter

Adam Gerber talks about old vs. new business models in advertising, the trend towards understanding individuals vs. demographics, and the discomfort within the industry of reaching audiences where they are choosing to engage.

Transcript: Adam Gerber on advertising business models

I think that the challenges that all marketers are going to have to face in the next 6 months and actually over the slightly longer term is grasping that the old ways of evaluating and buying media no longer are the proper forms of conducting business. We're moving to a world where audience fragmentation is increasing exponentially, over channels, over time and over place. The traditional methods of measuring, the traditional methods of thinking about how you actually buy audiences by using proxies, programs, magazines, etc. -- those methods are quickly becoming unusable models in the current construct of how media is evolving. So I think a big part of what marketers are going to have to do is to understand their audiences better, to find ways to target them in different ways, and to leverage new ways of communicating with them, so that the messages that they want to deliver actually get through. In the 1.0 world, the data that you re working with is either passive data, or it's projected data, or it s demographic data --- its not a clear identifier of who the person really is at heart, and I think that a key part of successful media programs and advertising programs in the future is digging deeper beyond just the demographics of an individual and understanding mindset. I think social platforms potentially offer the opportunity to do that. There are a whole host of issues related to privacy, and the big brother mentality that I think have to be overcome, but I think even most recently there was a terrific piece in the New York times a couple of weeks ago about some of the things that Myspace is exploring regarding a lot of the issues that I just talked about. Marketers are still generally a little apprehensive about this new world that we live in, which is a world where content can flow anywhere into any environment and be accessible by anyone at any time. Especially top-tier marketers -- Fortune 500 companies -- generally have a lot of competing interests that they have to manage around with regards to where their brand advertising runs, what it s adjacent to, they have lots of different constituents that they have to make sure that they satisfy. Emotion really overrides rationale, and if a marketer s interested in reaching an audience that they've identified as a key consumer segment of their product, if those consumers are choosing to engage with content that the marketer doesn t necessarily like, or that members of their board of directors don t necessarily like, is it the right business decision to ignore that and not to leverage those platforms in unique ways that balance the brand vs. the environment that the content is running in? I think that s really all about the data side or the rational side of the marketing practice that we have to wrap our heads around which is: there are audiences that you want to reach. You have to reach them where they re choosing to engage, and if those environments are necessarily the best environments that you define as the place where you d want your brand, you still may want to be there, and I think that that s an emotional hurdle that people are going to have to get over over the next number of years.

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