How to Reinvent Internet Advertising (TechWeek Panel)

AT&T ad on in 1994 (first banner ad)
In the video below, a panel at the 2012 Chicago TechWeek conference discussed how brands (via internet advertising) are having trouble assimilating with the new era of social media. They laid out the main reasons quite well: 1) brands see social media as a huge risk, and 2) the old internet ad model still does the job so they don't want to deal with change. I think they are leaving money on the table and can make hedge fund-type returns on their investment (ROI). In my opinion, ad budgets should work directly with online media channels and publishers (via third parties) to provide premium sponsorship via a free quasi-subscription-based model. Everything would still be free for the user or reader on a site, but ad dollars would be more customized and premium in nature. Instead of bombarding readers with a bunch of random ad banners based on search algorithms and/or browser cookies to fill inventory across the internet, and hoping for clicks or eyeballs that are mostly accidental anyways, companies could purchase content for a user or reader directly (via their marketing budgets) and gain the respect as a premium direct sponsor. In return, the company, or a team of companies, would be an exclusive ad partner and would own/control the ads for a certain period of time. Ad pricing would still depend on an open market like everything else, but I think it would prevent wasteful spending and possibly more interest in the sponsors.

I think that companies, ad agencies, brokers, exchanges, and online media channels all need to work together to revolutionize the online ad dollar. According to Mary Meeker, partner at VC firm KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers) and former internet analyst at Morgan Stanley, total internet ad spending in the U.S. reached $30+ billion in 2011, which is up from $267 million in 1996. U.S. mobile ad spending reached $1.6 billion in 2011. Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Groupon, creative ad agencies, and all of the smaller niche players in this space, all have the cash, infrastructure, and partnerships to make something happen. There are probably a million ways to integrate online and mobile channels, social media, games, location (local and national), purchases (online and in stores), credits, bank transactions, and reward points, to shift away from banner ads and adapt with the new times. Any thoughts? Watch the panel courtesy of the TechWeek conference on LiveStream. I thought it was interesting. And then check out old online banner ads I found from 1999-2000!

techweek on Broadcast Live Free

Since this is a financial blog, I found examples of financial banner ads from 1999 and 2000 via the Banner Ad Museum, which was deleted but archived at's Wayback Machine. It is truly amazing how online display ads haven't changed since the late nineties! I guess you could say Google's algorithms changed the game by connecting search with display and sponsored link ads, but brands haven't really connected directly the user.

Here are Ameritrade, Merrill Lynch Direct, Scottrade, E-Trade, Datek, Optionetics, Bloomberg, Citigroup, Bank of America, Capital One, Prudential, AXA, and CBS MarketWatch banner ads from 1999 (the E*Trade $4.95/trade ad was from 2000).

Here are a few retail ads I found (Coach, GM and Compaq's iPAQ Blackberry).

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