Had occasion recently to meet with the reverend of my church. He's an easy man to talk to (a good attribute for a preacher). He asked what I'm up to recently, and I described the new online network my brother Mike and I are raising funds to launch.
I told him how the new network would completely invert the standard advertising model, and switch the currency from the ads that no one wants and no one clicks on to the content links that everyone wants and everyone clicks on. When a site visitor clicks on a text or video link, instead of just painting a new page with the requested content and the same old clutter, a separate tab opens and the visitor and the content both get dropped into a single-sponsor destination page.
In essence, the new network turns the old model upside down. Rather than dropping the ad into a content page where it gets completely lost and ignored in the clutter, we drop the content into the ad instead. Rather than put the ad in front of the visitor, we put the visitor in front of the ad. In the process we all but eliminate any potential for adverse brand exposure and likewise eliminate the potential for click fraud. The advertiser gets a self-qualified visitor delivered to an exclusive, pristine and persistent branding environment -- in scale.
The new model, I told him, simply swaps the click-through currency from the ads (that no wants, no one sees and no one clicks on) to the content links (that everyone wants, everyone sees and everyone clicks on). With the new model, suddenly any midsize publisher (500MM pageviews/month) can deliver massive reach (measured not in empty impressions but in actual self-qualified visitors), certainly enough to compete effectively with primetime network TV. Equipped with the new model, suddenly any midsize publisher can deliver literally millions of qualified visitors per daydirectly to any specified advertiser destination, something no publisher can do now -- not Facebook, not Google and not Yahoo, at least not while they're pushing display ads through the pipe at an average CTR of only .1%. At that performance level one million daily visitors requires the delivery of one billion daily impressions, a burn rate way out of range for even the biggest brand advertisers -- even at a bargain-basement $1 CPM.
By contrast, the new network model delivers self-qualified visitors for a song, for just a miserly fraction of what big advertisers pay now for qualified visitors elsewhere.
So the preacher listens intently while I discuss the model and voice all my frustrations at an industry that simply can't get out of its own way. Some of my language was pretty animated and way less than Godly, but he didn't seem to mind. When I was done he sat quietly for a moment as I calmed down. Then he leaned forward. "You know, Jeff," he said. "I don't know much about advertising and I don't know much about how things work online, but isn't what you describe the way things used to work back in the early days of radio and TV?"
I just sat for a moment and stared off into space. "Exactly," I told him. "Thank God someone understands."
"That's my job," he said.
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