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Are Ad Exchanges Solely for Spot-Market/ Remnant Inventory? April 6, 2007

Posted by Bill in Auction-based media, exchanges, Google, Microsoft, Online Advertising, Online Auction Tips, traditional advertising.
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The eBay Media Marketplace (“EMM”) has received much hype the past bunch of months. According to a MediaPost article, this past Thursday that hype came to a screeching halt when the Cable television Advertising Bureau–which holds the keys to launching the broadcast auction system–said the EMM was a permanent no-go. The trade group’s opposition was based on two points:
1. The eBay functionality was flawed, and
2. The system wasn’t in step with the new age of media buying, where the focus is on complex multi-touch point deals, not peddling and purchasing spots.

CAB head Sean Cunningham said his members reviewed a pilot of the system for some weeks. They found that its infrastructure fell short in making the intricacies of end-to-end buying and selling better. Cunningham said it was “evidence of someone developing a system in eBay that, despite the best counsel of top buyers in the business, was just not getting the scope of this business in terms of both current and future practice.”

So this raises a few questions…
1. With all the hype over DoubleClick’s entry into the “Ad Nasdaq” world, will anybody be able to move this marketplace concept up market?
2. Was broadcast simply not ready for their ecosystem to be turned upside down and embrace auction-based media?
3. Is premium inventory, regardless of channel, simply too personal and relationships and media buying too complex to make the evolutionary switch away from upfronts and personal negotiations?
4. Is an auction platform built simply for spot-market, remnant, or turn-key/ non-creative ad inventory?

For the eBay Media Marketplace to make it, I believe the market first needs to figure out a solution for a Premium Online Ad Exchange. For that to happen, it has to be driven by a Media company with a huge online presence, powered by a technology which embraces auctions but respects the old-school inventory forecasting and expectations on campaign delivery. All eyes have to be on Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! before they go onto eBay…

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The Eagle Has Landed… on a Mission… March 12, 2007

Posted by Bill in Auction-based media, exchanges, Online Auction Tips, online marketing, Search Marketing.
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 http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=56890

Ex Did-It Chief Bill Wise Lands At Remix Media Ad Network

FORMER DID-IT CEO BILL WISE, who left the search engine marketing firm last month citing a disagreement about the direction of the company, starts today as president of Remix Media, a division of auction-based ad network Right Media, OnlineMediaDaily has learned.

Right Media made headlines in October when Yahoo bought a 20% stake in the firm for $45 million. In December, the company created the new brand Remix Media for its ad network, which allows advertisers to bid on display ad impressions from specific sites.

Wise will oversee the growth of Remix, having experience with both auction-based media from his role at Did-It, as well as ad network management from his experience as general manager of DoubleClick Media.

“It’s really kind of bridging the ad network business and the concept of an exchange with search marketing and everything else,” he said.

Currently, Remix represents mostly lower-cost inventory, but part of Wise’s job will entail attracting both big-spending advertisers and more premium inventory, he said.

“They’re now serving two billion impressions a day. They’ve gotten large very quickly. Right now, they’re representing a lot of remnant space,” he said. “But clearly, the strategy is how to go upstream, and that’s going to be a large part of my role.”

Wise said the company aims to help marketers manage entire campaigns on an auction-based level.

“More and more marketers and agencies need to embrace the concept of auction-based media, and Right Media has the online advertising piece figured out,” he said. “Remix Media, and we’re really establishing that as another brand, can really help marketers manage their inventory holistically.”

Welcome The Pubvertisers January 15, 2007

Posted by Bill in Online Advertising, Online Auction Tips, online marketing, Search Marketing, traditional advertising.
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Last Wednesday, megapublisher Meredith Corporation (publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Parents, to name a few holdings) purchased interactive agencies Genex and New Media Strategies. It was an incredible deal for Meredith, as it brings advertising accounts like Honda, Unilever, Citigroup, ABC, Coca Cola, Ford, Sony, and AT&T under Meredith’s roof, and most likely onto Meredith’s magazine pages. It’s also a move that would have been utterly unthinkable ten years ago.

The Wall Street Journal’s Emily Steel puts it this way: “There used to be a clear division between media outlets… which sold ad time or space and ad agencies, which designed and placed the ads on behalf of marketers. One reason [for the division]: the potential for conflicts of interest if an ad agency owned by a media company was seen to be unfairly directing ads to its sibling media outfits.” But times are changing. Steel goes on to cite other examples of the new pubvertisers, including Conde Nast and Wenner Media, both of which have created in-house ad divisions; Gannett Media, which now owns interactive shop PointRoll; and Google, which has “expanded aggressively into ad sales.”

I think it’s Steel’s last example–Google, or, more broadly, the whole world of search–that’s the key catalyst in the pubvertising trend. That’s because search has placed a whole new level of analytics and transparency into the publishing world; and it’s this analytics-based transparency that makes pubvertising possible.

Why? Because advertisers would mistrust pubvertising in environments in which there’s little recourse for evaluating the agency’s suggestions. It’s only when good analytics can show advertisers when they’re being lied to, when they’re being led astray–and when they’re being offered sound advice–that makes it safe to take advice from a source that may have a conflicting interest. Analytics create transparency, which creates trust, which is the crucial element for pubvertising to get off the ground.

And it’s the search engines that are leading the way in both providing and leveraging this kind of transparency. From free keyword tools to human sales reps, search engines are kings in advising advertisers how to manage keyword spend. But while they’re pushing keywords, the engines also provide clear data on how those keywords actually perform. That transparency makes customers feel secure both listening to the engines’ advice on buying keywords, while purchasing those keywords directly from the engines themselves.

Of course, it’s obviously in publishers’ interest to have ad agencies in-house, because having an in-house ad agency places advertisers within immediate reach. Publishers know this, which is why pubvertising is a trend that will only grow. And to allow that trend to grow, publishers of all kinds will look to offer better analytics and transparency to make that pubvertising possible. I’m not just talking about the MSNs, Yahoos, and Googles of the world entering into an arms race to create better targeting and analytics. I’m talking about even the lowest-tech of ad formats getting into the game, as was the case when print classifieds joined forces with Google late last year.

This has serious ramifications for the future of the ad agency. As publishers look to beef up their analytics and transparency so they can get into advertising, ad agencies will have to beef up their analytics capabilities to get closer to the publishers they’ll need to work with–or be purchased by–to survive. That’s exactly what happened in the world of search, in which a transparent, analytics-heavy publisher model (the engine) gave rise to a new kind of transparent, analytics-heavy ad agency (the SEM firm).

And so as pubvertising shifts from yesterday’s impossibility to tomorrow’s new standard, look to a huge surge in the analytics-based publisher, the analytics-based ad firm, and clients who expect analytics-based transparency from both. Meanwhile, Madison Avenue firms who can’t keep up–because they can’t get up to speed with their data–will face a real uphill battle in the new ad world that looks more like the search world every day.

Will E-Media Make It? November 20, 2006

Posted by Bill in Broadcast, Google, MSN Search, Online Auction Tips, online marketing, Search Marketing, traditional advertising, Yahoo Search Marketing.
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Last week, advertisers got their first glimpse of the e-Media Exchange, the auction-based TV (and other traditional media) ad-buying exchange initiated by blue-chip advertisers like Wal-Mart, and powered by e-Bay. The Exchange is said to be ready to roll in Q2 ‘07; the advertisers involved got their first sneak preview last week. And as I’ve said many times before, the Exchange is a revolution whose time has clearly come.

But at the same time, it still isn’t clear whether the e-Media Exchange will actually thrive. That’a an open question; there are forces acting both against and in favor of the Exchange’s long-term survival.

Let’s start with the forces against. To begin with, the networks don’t like the Exchange very much; and if the networks themselves don’t go along, the Exchange won’t work (it’s the networks’ inventory that the Exchange is selling). The networks’ reaction isn’t surprising, as the Exchange was created out of advertiser suspicion of network double-dealing when it comes to ad pricing: auctions, the Exchange members feel, are a more accountable and transparent way to buy media. Meanwhile, something else the networks have a strong reason to dislike is the fact that an auction would wrest pricing controls out of the hands of the networks, placing it in the hands of advertisers.

Then there’s institutional culture. The Exchange is an attempt to replace the traditional networks’ culture of lavish upfronts and martini lunches during ad buys. But while martini lunches might not foster transparent pricing, they’re an important aspect of networks’ tradition and corporate culture–and old traditions die hard. That’s especially true amongst large corporations, and the traditional networks happen to be large corporations (or pieces of large corporations).

Of course, martini lunches really do serve a valuable purpose. Television advertisers are spending enormous sums of money; and there’s a strong argument that large purchases are best done face-to-face. Even in the search world, the engines have reps who handle ad spend for larger clients, despite the fact that the actual ad purchases are made via online auction. And if there’s a need for a human interaction in the online auction of search, there’s no reason the same wouldn’t be true of online TV ad buys.

Finally, those behind the Exchange may have made a tactical mistake in declaring that they’ll start the Exchange as a place to buy remnant inventory. That makes sense politically, as the networks would never have agreed to let the Exchange start out by managing anything bigger that remnant. But the move also ignores a basic principle of how auctions work, and that’s a problem. To paraphrase what I’ve said many times, auctions are competitions over specific items–and to create a viable arena for those competitions, you have to offer something that people are interested in fighting over. But remnant inventory is definitionally the inventory that nobody wants; that’s not the kind of stuff that creates bidding wars, and so it’s not the stuff that makes for viable auction marketplaces.

OK, now why should the e-Media Exchange work? Because the auction networks have a record of creating clear and fair pricing. That kind of environment for buying TV spots would be an attractive change for advertisers who crave greater transparency in their ad buys. And if the advertisers are willing to fight hard enough for it, there’s definitely a chance that the networks will go along with the advertisers’ wish.

Meanwhile, the Exchange has made a smart move in deciding to start the program on cable TV. Cable TV is subscriber-based, which means that cable networks have demographic, geographic, and/or psychographic information that the standard networks don’t. That kind of data creates opportunities for the networks to slice and dice ad inventory in ways that clearly showcase each slot’s value. That, in turn, allows networks to charge more for the given slot, which is good for them; and it will also be able to drive more bidding wars over any given slot, which is good for the longevity of the Exchange, which is good for the advertisers. And initial success in a cable TV run will make the Exchange an easier sell to the larger networks, too.

One final note here: There’s no reason to assume that the Exchange is a guaranteed home run, just because it provides auctioned ad buys. Google and Yahoo have clearly shown that auction-based advertising can be a highly viable ad model; but there are plenty of auction media outlets that you haven’t heard of, simply because they died along the way. And whether the Exchange will become TV’s Google, or the next cutting-edge idea that lost because it was too ahead of its time, remains to be seen.

Out-of-Home Is the Next Auction Medium September 18, 2006

Posted by Bill in Online Advertising, Online Auction Tips, Search Marketing.
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You know those ads you see on screens in airports, office building elevators, and on the  occasional person? They’re called out-of-home digital ads. And my prediction for them is that they’ll be almost entirely auction-based by 2010.

Last week, marketing consultancy Profitable Channels came out with a report on the medium. The report is definitely a worthwhile read; the point that stood out most in my mind–the point that led to my conclusion about auctioning out-of-home spots–comes from the report’s description of out-of-home’s value. This value, the report observes, stems largely from out-of-home’s proximity to the point of sale.

In July, I wrote a piece about why Google’s attempt to auction print ads didn’t work. Since auctions are so competitive, I argued, buyers tend to avoid them unless they’re absolutely necessary–unless the auctioned item is scarce, and there’s no other place for auctiongoers to shop. That’s why fine art get sold ub auctions–because it’s one-of-a-kind; but vegetables and pants are almost never auctioned, because vegetables and pants are widely available.

Print advertising goes into the “widely available” category. Print publishers add pages to their newspapers and magazines as they sell more inventory, so they can always make space to accommodate more advertisers. That’s hardly a scenario of scarcity, and so it’s hardly a scenario for offering an auction model.

That logic also explains why keywords are sold in auction. Since only a finite number of searchers will search a given tem, keyword traffic is limited. It’s also highly valuable, as keywords represent consumers who are headed towards a point of sale. The combination of high value and limited availability makes keyword traffic a thoroughly auctionable item.

Now consider the out-of-home ad. Out-of-home advertising, again, is so attractive because it puts your ad very close to the point of sale. Your ad for kids’ cereal might be nice during Saturday morning cartoons; but think of how valuable it would be if you displayed it right in the cereal aisle. Or how valuable an ad for Pepsi could be if it was delivered right next to the soda machine. And since there are only so many spots in the world that are next to a point of sale, out-of-home advertising offers something that’s highly scarce. And, once again, scarce + valuable = auction-worthy. It’s only a matter of time before networks realize this, and sell out-of-home impressions accordingly.

Auction-based out-of-home ads will be a big news for auction marketing, because out-of-home advertising is big business. In the same report, Profitable Channels predicts a total of $1.2 billion in out-of-home ad sales this year–about the equivalent of a major TV daypart.

And the out-of-home market is still largely untapped. A second study released last week, this one by media research firm Arbitron, found that  a third of the people who watch Sunday Night Football in Houston watch it out of home. And I’d say it’s a safe assumption that a substantial number of those out-of-home viewers watched their NFL games in a bar. That creates a real opportunity. Given the sheer numbers of viewers watching football in bars, imagine how valuable bar-specific advertising would be to a beer distributor who could reach viewers, in a bar, in the middle of NFL programming.

Such a network would be so valuable, I’d like to suggest, that it’s only a matter of time before we see bar-specific networks that overlay bar-specific ads, and deliver them to bar TV screens during the commercial breaks of sporting events. And it would make perfect sense to sell the ad slots by auction: it’s a scarce resource (there are only so many commercial breaks in a game, and so many bars that the networks will reach); and, since a bar is a crucial point of sale for beverage vendors, it would also be incredibly valuable.

And bars aren’t the only location that would attract networks. Arbitron finds that, with TV sets in a slew of other places–like airports, hospital waiting rooms, hotels, and gyms–a lot of television, including daytime TV, gets major out-of-home viewing. Many of these out-of-home views could support their own overlays, with hospital TVs getting ads from insurance companies; gym TVs getting ads from diet products; hotels getting ads from tourist attractions and restaurants, and so on. For nearly every location where there’s a TV, there’s an industry or two that would see that TV as incredibly targeted real estate. Those industries would gladly participate in a bidding war to place their advertising there, and to keep their competitors out.

How long before out-of-home goes auction-based? It won’t be overnight. But it will, most likely, be within the next three years. It’s a possibility I’d put a high bid on.

Why Google Print Ads Didn’t Work… And Why Its Radio Ads Will! July 17, 2006

Posted by Bill in Google, Online Auction Tips, Search Marketing.
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I have one word to say about why auctions work. That word is “scarcity.” Scarcity’s the only reason anyone would enter an auction, and scarcity’s the only thing that keeps people in auctions, even after bid prices keep moving up. And scarcity explains why Google Publication ads–its auction-based print ad network–hasn’t worked; and why its entrée into radio advertising will be a hit.
Auctions, after all, aren’t always so fun. In non-auction place markets, sellers deliberate meticulously before the slightest price change; they also need to keep their pricing competitive–and so sellers provide a dual reason why truly runaway price growth is uncommon.
But sellers are behind the scenes in auctions. And so auction prices typically skyrocket in a very short time. That’s never an enjoyable scenario for buyers; and so, if they can avoid it, rational shoppers choose not to play whenever they can. To enter into an auction, buyers need to have a real incentive.
That incentive is scarcity. If there’s something that people really want, and there’s no other way to get it than through an auction, then they’ll roll up their sleeves and bid. That’s why Sotheby’s–which has a monopoly or near-monopoly on everything it sells–is able to sell all of its merchandise via auction. It’s also why eBay positions itself as a place to find hard-to-find items, or hard-to-find deals: if you could find what you’re looking for just anywhere, you wouldn’t be sitting through an auction for it on eBay.
Based on the scarcity principle, it’s surprising that Google didn’t foresee the less-than-stellar performance of Google Publication Ads. Print ad space, after all, is quite plentiful; what’s more, print pubs can always add pages to meet increased advertising demand. In other words, more advertisers means less scarcity, not more. And since there’s no scarcity principle at play in the world of print, advertisers were bound to steer clear of print ad space auctions. (Based on the scarcity principle, Google could have created a highly successful auction marketplace for print, if it had stuck to auctioning off truly coveted real estate–like the inside back cover of magazines.)
The fact that Google overlooked the scarcity principle is particularly surprising when you consider the fact that its search auctions–its flagship enterprise–drive increased yield (CPC and effective CPM’s) because of the lack of supply. Searchers looking to buy the things people sell are highly valuable; and, since there’s a limited number of them in any case, they’re also scarce. Marketers understand this, and willingly pay high search-click costs to participate in Google’s search auction. If they want the high-quality search traffic, there’s no other choice.
But even Google’s entitled to an occasional mistake, and Google’s purchase of dMarc–one of the most venerated ad networks around–proves that they’re still the top pros. Radio ad units, after all, are highly limited stuff: there are only so many radio channels; there are only so many hours in the day; and there are even fewer hours during which radios air ads (the rest of the time they’re airing programming). Plus, the most valuable advertising times only happen twice daily–during morning and evening rush hour. Since radio advertising is rife with scarce, valuable opportunity, it’s a great framework for auction media–making it the perfect next arena for Google. (That same argument, by the way, also applies to television–and it will be interesting to see how long it takes before Google enters that business.)
And so with its new radio enterprise, Google’s found its new source of scarcity. Which is why I predict big things for Google radio advertising. And, to put my firm’s money where my mouth is, I’ve had Did-it set up its search auction management systems to manage radio ad auctions, as well.
For the record, there are those in the industry who aren’t so confident just yet. In an e-mail he sent me on the topic, Matt Spiegel, managing director of Resolution Media (an Omnicom Company) wrote: “Looking forward, I think this makes sense for Google and the industry. [But] my immediate question is whether the industry is really ready for this… almost all of Google’s relationships are with online/interactive departments–and these are not the same people who are responsible for, or know anything about, buying radio.” So depending on who you ask, it’s a great idea that’s before its time (Spiegel’s take), or just a great idea (my approach).
We’ll have to wait and see who’s right. In further columns within this space, I hope to share insights on how Google’s radio advertising is going for us–to see if the industry is, or is not, in fact ready for this…

Why Google Print Ads Didn’t Work… And Why Its Radio Ads Will! July 17, 2006

Posted by Bill in Google, Online Auction Tips, Search Marketing.
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I have one word to say about why auctions work. That word is “scarcity.” Scarcity’s the only reason anyone would enter an auction, and scarcity’s the only thing that keeps people in auctions, even after bid prices keep moving up. And scarcity explains why Google Publication ads–its auction-based print ad network–hasn’t worked; and why its entrée into radio advertising will be a hit.
Auctions, after all, aren’t always so fun. In non-auction place markets, sellers deliberate meticulously before the slightest price change; they also need to keep their pricing competitive–and so sellers provide a dual reason why truly runaway price growth is uncommon.
But sellers are behind the scenes in auctions. And so auction prices typically skyrocket in a very short time. That’s never an enjoyable scenario for buyers; and so, if they can avoid it, rational shoppers choose not to play whenever they can. To enter into an auction, buyers need to have a real incentive.
That incentive is scarcity. If there’s something that people really want, and there’s no other way to get it than through an auction, then they’ll roll up their sleeves and bid. That’s why Sotheby’s–which has a monopoly or near-monopoly on everything it sells–is able to sell all of its merchandise via auction. It’s also why eBay positions itself as a place to find hard-to-find items, or hard-to-find deals: if you could find what you’re looking for just anywhere, you wouldn’t be sitting through an auction for it on eBay.
Based on the scarcity principle, it’s surprising that Google didn’t foresee the less-than-stellar performance of Google Publication Ads. Print ad space, after all, is quite plentiful; what’s more, print pubs can always add pages to meet increased advertising demand. In other words, more advertisers means less scarcity, not more. And since there’s no scarcity principle at play in the world of print, advertisers were bound to steer clear of print ad space auctions. (Based on the scarcity principle, Google could have created a highly successful auction marketplace for print, if it had stuck to auctioning off truly coveted real estate–like the inside back cover of magazines.)
The fact that Google overlooked the scarcity principle is particularly surprising when you consider the fact that its search auctions–its flagship enterprise–drive increased yield (CPC and effective CPM’s) because of the lack of supply. Searchers looking to buy the things people sell are highly valuable; and, since there’s a limited number of them in any case, they’re also scarce. Marketers understand this, and willingly pay high search-click costs to participate in Google’s search auction. If they want the high-quality search traffic, there’s no other choice.
But even Google’s entitled to an occasional mistake, and Google’s purchase of dMarc–one of the most venerated ad networks around–proves that they’re still the top pros. Radio ad units, after all, are highly limited stuff: there are only so many radio channels; there are only so many hours in the day; and there are even fewer hours during which radios air ads (the rest of the time they’re airing programming). Plus, the most valuable advertising times only happen twice daily–during morning and evening rush hour. Since radio advertising is rife with scarce, valuable opportunity, it’s a great framework for auction media–making it the perfect next arena for Google. (That same argument, by the way, also applies to television–and it will be interesting to see how long it takes before Google enters that business.)
And so with its new radio enterprise, Google’s found its new source of scarcity. Which is why I predict big things for Google radio advertising. And, to put my firm’s money where my mouth is, I’ve had Did-it set up its search auction management systems to manage radio ad auctions, as well.
For the record, there are those in the industry who aren’t so confident just yet. In an e-mail he sent me on the topic, Matt Spiegel, managing director of Resolution Media (an Omnicom Company) wrote: “Looking forward, I think this makes sense for Google and the industry. [But] my immediate question is whether the industry is really ready for this… almost all of Google’s relationships are with online/interactive departments–and these are not the same people who are responsible for, or know anything about, buying radio.” So depending on who you ask, it’s a great idea that’s before its time (Spiegel’s take), or just a great idea (my approach).
We’ll have to wait and see who’s right. In further columns within this space, I hope to share insights on how Google’s radio advertising is going for us–to see if the industry is, or is not, in fact ready for this…

Should Dayparting Make You Nervous? June 26, 2006

Posted by Bill in Online Auction Tips, Search Marketing.
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Last week, Google rolled out automated dayparting–the ability to automatically serve ads toward optimal times of the day. This is good news for search: it is bound to greatly heighten advertisers’ precision, and eliminate campaign waste. What’s more, Google dayparting will be free. (Until now, automated dayparting was available only through third-party search firms.)

But despite my overall excitement about the product, I’d still like to add two words of caution. First, it’s bound to make search still more competitive. And second, if your searchers change schedules faster than you can follow them, it could leave you targeting toward the wrong times.

Smaller Windows, Bigger Competition

Dayparting relies on the idea that for many kinds of businesses, certain times of day are highly valuable; other times of day are less relevant. Businesses want to place as much spend as they can on those most-valuable times, and to shift spend away from the less valuable time slots.

While that goal makes excellent business sense, it’s also important to realize that no advertiser works in a vacuum. It isn’t just one advertiser that wants to move to the best time slot–it’s all of them, all at once. Which is a setup for shifting the nature of search competition entirely, from small skirmishes throughout the day to an all-out war during Prime Time. And because it’s a fight over your best search traffic, it’s a war you won’t be able to avoid.

When that level of competition hits (and it will take time–because not everyone will figure out when the optimal times are, right away), you’ll need to rely more than ever on strong ad copy–to pull searchers away from your many competitors, and toward you; you’ll also need to be able to develop stellar conversion architecture, to make sure that the traffic you pull in–which, in that highly competitive landscape, you’ll need to pay more to get–definitely converts for you.

In other words, if you’re in a daypart-oriented business, Google dayparting will make all the other aspects of your search more vital than ever before.

Search Times Are Changing

To understand how search markets can migrate from one time of day to a different one, consider online personal shopping.

Lots of people make personal purchases and purchasing decisions at the office. There could be many reasons why that’s so: people need a break during the day; people would rather cut in on their work hours than on their personal lives; people reflexively think of brick-and-mortar “regular store hours,” even when they’re shopping online.

But an alternative reason for workday shopping might be technological. Until relatively recently, most people got their broadband connections at work, and had dial-up at home. And it’s a lot easier to shop through broadband than it is to shop through slow dial-up.

If broadband is the primary reason your market is doing product searches from 9-5, then widespread adoption of home broadband is likely to affect the pattern. Now that they’ve got home broadband, your market might do online shopping and searching at nights, on the weekends, or in the early morning. And if you aren’t on top of your market’s changing online habits, you might end up focusing your dayparts toward 9-5–which is when your market used to shop, but isn’t shopping any more.

Learning who your searchers are, and when they search, is entirely an issue of having the best analytics. The better you are able to gather in-depth metrics and understand them, to test out new initiatives before rolling them out fully, and to know how to ask the right questions about your campaign, the better position you will be in to find the right times of day for advertising to your market–wherever it migrates.

Which is to say that the vast benefits of dayparting need to go hand-in-hand with great analytics. If they don’t, things could get risky.

Using the Tools

The point I’m making here isn’t that we shouldn’t be exhilarated about Google’s dayparting–or Google’s geotargeting, or MSN’s targeting suite. What I’m arguing, instead, is simply that targeting capabilities are tools. And rather than being inherently good or bad, tools are best at intensifying the way things already are: they build on strengths and magnify weaknesses. That includes your skills at fighting the competition when things get rough, and your ability to know what your market is doing and when.

Like it or not, targeting tools are the new search reality. And for those of us who can work well without the tools, they are undoubtedly a real cause to get excited. For everyone else, maybe it’s best to see them as a wake-up call.