The year of the ad

Between Google's recent launch of behavioral ad targeting and all of the activity going on with telcos and cable TV firms working on targeted ads and other advanced and interactive advertising capabilities, 2009 is shaping up to be the year of the ad. Maybe it has been a long time coming, but it still seems strange, since around this time last year targeted advertising was still a dirty phrase.

What happened? Did the value of targeted ads and other advanced advertising change suddenly? Did the right technology become available? Were companies involved in these capabilities able to sooth the privacy fears of consumers?

Actually, none of these things has happened, at least not since last year. The exception may be that future cable TV interactive technology Tru2way has become increasingly available in recent months. But, what really happened is that advertising finally has made the transition to become actual content--or at least service providers have recognized it as content that potentially can have value to someone beyond the advertiser and whoever they pay to run the ad.

That sounds a bit strange, I know, and maybe to many people, advertising was content all along. But, the service provider industry in particular has started to see that advertising is something many consumers actually gain something from--usable information. They can make that information even more useful by making it interactive or employing targeting capabilities to deliver consumers only the ads that are most useful to them.

They may have known this last year, too, but the mistake that some of them made in regard to Internet advertising was that they didn't really communicate to consumers what they could do for them by enhancing the advertising experience, or what personal information they might have to exploit to do it. Google's willingness to do behavioral advertising now shows how quickly the lesson has been learned (though some consumers still aren't going to be happy with what's going on). Now, the telco and cable TV companies are ready to take things a step further by evolving the TV ad experience. They now know the value of advanced ads and how to communicate to consumers what they have to gain.