Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pandora’s Geo-targeted Ads Latest Example of Online Advertising Beyond the Banner

There’s been quite a lot of talk lately on how some Web publishers are moving beyond standard banner ad formats in favor of customized units as a way to increase viewer engagement and clicks. And no wonder with click-through rates for standard IAB banner formats on the decline across many properties.

One big shift, especially among social media sites, is to integrate ads squarely into page content as opposed to on the periphery of a page like most banner units. For example, social news site Digg just recently began flowing ads into the stream of its page content as a way to increase subscriber interaction.

Another good example of this is music service’s placement of ad units squarely into its music player. But Pandora is taking it a step further by adding geo-targeting to the matter.

For example, this morning while logged into Pandora an ad was served up by the Paper Mill Playhouse, which is several blocks from my house, for the musical play “The Full Monty.” Obviously I was targeted for this ad based on IP information from my browser.

I could only wonder if they are also using information about my music preferences (which as a subscriber is stored in their databases) as a way to serve up ads that would be of interest to me. For instance, knowing I like indy rock an ad for “The Full Monty” makes sense – but for "South Pacific," probably not. Some might think this is a little creepy – I don’t, just a way to deliver more relevant and useful information.

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