Please change the topic: an open letter to Ad Tech

Please change the topic: an open letter to Ad Tech

Strategy Leaders

Google has abandoned FLOCs, which had been its answer to the cookie apocalypse. Instead it’s doing something called Topics. But how is any of this really helpful for commercial media?

Dear Ad Tech

I see you’re running out of cookies and have tried to replace them with various poultry-based solutions.

I refer, of course, to FLOCs, SPARROW, TURTLEDOVE, PARRROT and all the rest of the avian acronyms. It seems that none of these are likely to work. But fear not, I’ve got a brilliant idea for making ads more effective and efficient.

My plan is to align the products and services advertisers want to promote with the interests of the people who are exposed to the ads. Thus uniting people who want to sell something with the people who might want to buy said products or services.

It’ll work like this: say an advertiser sells cars; we will find websites where people look for information about cars and put the car ads there.

Another example: say an advertiser sells a delicious cheese; we will find cheese related websites. Well, okay, perhaps that’s too specific – let’s say recipe sites instead, and put the cheese ads there. These are just two examples, but I think the opportunities may be endless.

It doesn’t have to be physical things. Say an advertiser sells pensions; ads could be placed on sites, and even within apps, where people read about personal finances. Or if an advertiser sells holidays to Spain, ads could be placed around travel content.

It doesn’t even need to be so overt a connection. Say it’s men’s anti-perspirant to be advertised. We know that many men are interested in not being a honking bag of sweat, and we also know that many men browse sites related to sports such as football, rugby, and even golf. So you could put your men’s antiperspirant ads there and reasonably expect to be met with some interest.

Obviously women read sports sites too. But perhaps they know a man who is a honking bag of sweat and might consider buying the product as a gift. Or, even for themselves if they too are perhaps the sporty type and/or also a honking bag of sweat.

Indeed you could take this approach further and think about not only who might be interested and where, but also when.

I can see you looking a bit perplexed, Ad Tech; let me clarify.

Now I know you like a nice spicy vindaloo curry. But most often your mind turns to vindaloo in the evening. Not so much at breakfast time. I’d be silly to try to sell you a spicy curry in the morning when your mind is simply on other things. Better I wait till evening, then we can talk!

You see our interest in the things that advertisers try to sell us is sort of contextually bound.

And that’s really the nub of my approach. I consider the thing I’m trying to sell and work out the context in which someone might be interested in it. Thereby giving myself a fighting chance of aligning with their interests and capturing their attention; albeit perhaps only briefly.

The great thing about it is it doesn’t require cookies, nor tracking people in any way, nor invading privacy, nor upsetting legislators. The down side? Well, being frank, it doesn’t need a whole lot of AdTech. But look, you’re a rocket scientist so you could always go back to NASA.

Before you go, I need your big Ad Tech brain to help me think up a name for my approach. Contextual Targeting sounds a bit old school and, well, unsexy.

What if we called it Consistent High Interest Content-based Kinetic Enterprise-scale Nano-targeting or CHICKEN?

You’re right Ad Tech, no one would take it seriously.

Hey, Ad Tech, what do you think of ‘Topics’?

Steve Taylor is joint chief strategy officer at VCCP Media

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