Third party behaviorial ad networks are another one of those things that we do not understand but do because everyone else is.
But thanks to Don Marti's comprehensive explanation, we now understand what people really think of them, how they don't work and what could be much better!
First he is one of the first to point out the elephant in the room:
As web ads get more and more closely targeted to the user, more and more users are choosing ad blockers, “Do Not Track” and other privacy technology. According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, most US users “are not okay with online targeted advertising.”
Don also explains what we don't know about behavioral ad networks:
Alexis C. Madrigal writes,So where do the ads end up? In a lot of cases, on pirate sites. Chris Castle points out that McDonald’s ads are running on sites that carry infringing song lyrics.The ad market, on which we all depend, started going haywire. Advertisers didn’t have to buy The Atlantic. They could buy ads on networks that had dropped a cookie on people visiting The Atlantic. They could snatch our audience right out from underneath us.
Finally he asks THE question we really need to answer:
But the question we’re still trying to figure out is: wherefore do the honest prosper? Akerlof writes, “Dishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market.” How can a market even exist? How can legit sellers earn anything?
The "ad networks" seem to think advertising should be sharp as a tack. But frequently nailing people with tacks is irritating.
I agree with Don 100% because contextually relevant is good enough for a tool as blunt as advertising.
The way to improve the results vs. the competition is the quality of the content (by both publisher and advertiser). Every writer, visual designer, musician should start finding video editing and animation experts to form a team because better content is about to become important again.
Why? The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) should be expanded to all - not just children. Behavioral Ad Network PR is raging as they influence AdAge to tell us that ad revenues are down 50% on kid oriented websites.
And 3rd parties will emerge syndicating multiple sites and place ads on them. And only on them - the rogue sites erroneously and fraudualently drawing behavioral ad network placement will be left out in the cold. So those kids oriented websites will get more not less ad revenue.
Aiming for better results instead of cheaper results inherently makes it easier for legitimate businesses and harder for illegitimate businesses to thrive.
And that is a very good litmus test for judging media strategy as well as government policy/regulation.