Ad Networks are Everything

One drawback to writing an online marketing column is the off-topic pitches.  Maybe I should send some of these "square peg in a round hole" specialists to people who really know PR, like Peter Shankman or Mark Naples.  I'm guessing that they're both overwhelmed, though. Especially lately, I've been writing columns that look into the future and postulate that if we had X technology, digital could get a larger share of marketing budgets.  X could be planning tools like automated repositories of actual buy data to more robust preditive reach/frequency applications to apps that would automatically query the marketplace for inventory avails.  X could be measurement technologies that give marketers a gauge on sales lift resulting from digital marketing programs.  X could be things that streamline the RFP/Evaluation/Plan Development process.

In all cases, I get follow-up e-mails from all sorts of people pitching technology.  They go something like this:

Mr. Hespos - Thank you for this column.  My client has something that we think will address the need for new planning tools you talked about.  I'd like to arrange a meeting between you and [client] CEO George Q. Schmendrickson as soon as your schedule will allow.

Great, I think to myself.  Someone already has something similar to what I think the industry needs in order to keep chugging forward with respectable growth.  There are so many tech vendors in this space that it would be very easy to miss it if someone had already addressed a market need I identified.  It happens quite frequently.

So I take the call.  Or the WebEx.  Or whatever it is.  And when we get to the Big Reveal, it turns out that the amazing technology that will revolutionize digital marketing is...

An Ad Network.

I'm totally fed up with this.  And I'm not sure how, precisely, it happens.  Maybe the PR person is so desperate to get their client in front of industry journalists that they'll say anything to make it happen.  Or maybe they're so clueless about what their clients do that they simply delude themselves into thinking that their client has the solution to every digital marketing problem.  (Hey, Naples and Shankman - Get over here and tell me why the f--k this happens in comments.  I really need to know.)

Regardless of WHY it happens, it's a real waste of effort.  And I'm starting to come to the conclusion that the only way digital marketing column writers are going to be able to avoid this is to start calling out these jokers.  Publicly.  And embarrassingly.

What PR schmuck still believes that after a decade and a half, no one has yet had the idea to cut a deal with an ad server, call up a bunch of sites and start selling ads on them?  Do they think that someone can be in the digital marketing space for more than five minutes and not know what an ad network is?

The disconnects are embarrasing as hell.  I've had conversations that go like this:

"So, CEO of  Your corporate communications guy told me this call was necessary because you claim to have a predictive Reach/Frequency tool that's more accurate than comScore's.  Is that even remotely true?"

"No, but we do have 600 brand-safe environments in 23 content channels that would be suitable for your clients' advertising."

"Thank you.  DIAF."

I'm getting so sick of this.  I'm thinking that from now on, the approach will be:

  1. Immediately hang up
  2. Ask my editors to build out a blog where all of the digital writers can publish the names of these companies
  3. Profit

Yeah, so that's my rant.  Considering how many times Shankman has said "Keep pitches on topic" in HARO, you'd think that people would be getting the picture.  I guess not.