Advertising, General

The genius that is Google is not in doubt; not up for debate or question. But ‘It’s complicated…’ as FaceBook would say.

I don’t do numbers; never have. And, if truth be told, I suspect I never will.

So I am therefore very loathe to draw any grander commercial conclusions from our little foray into West Yorkshire on the back of The Guardian’s ‘Local’ experiment in Leeds.

But last week’s post sparked an interesting debate about advertising relevance and reward; which is why – in part – I thought I’d make a return to the subject tonight.

Put it this way; we don’t often get ten comments…

Anyway, irrespective of the commercial conclusions anyone upstairs at King’s Place might care to draw from one, tiny little venture into that local text ad market, it has prompted me to shine a little light into one or two corners of the GNM web empire to see what other ‘relevant’ advertising arrives on their door-step.

All, of course, viewed from the vantage point of a suburban chalet bungalow in Cringleford; it is from here that I view the world…

Take Greece, for example. And this story…

The fear is that as austerity bites, the Greeks will find themselves at the mercy of their own, home grown ‘Red Brigades’; the warning to visitors is to be vigilant… etc, etc..

It follows on, therefore, that I would be interested in a Giant Aquarium in France.

When last I looked that Greek story was the third most viewed story on; that’s prime real estate advertising-wise.

After all, according to the ABCe figures of April ‘10 there’s a potential global audience of 35 million readers there; in a sense how great is that for Nausicaa aquarium in Boulogne to be seen by that many eye-balls…

How many people, however, suddenly think: ‘You know what, let’s give Greece a miss this summer… let’s try Boulogne for a change…’ must be a moot point.

How do I know there were 35 million odd global visitors to in April? Because they published their ‘traffic’ figures here…

Handily, for all of us in need of cones, barriers, traffic lights and signs, we now all know where to go…

OK; stop.

The genius that is Google is not in doubt.

Nor is the size or the complexity or the sheer scale of the task they accomplish every milli-second of every day for every million upon million of web publisher and web advertiser.

It is an extraordinary feat to even get one ‘traffic’ ad to one page that mentions ‘traffic’ – and all whilst charging and charting the process of that instant transaction for the benefit of publisher, advertiser and Google alike.

It is, I guess, what you might describe as a complex business model – a subject that has crossed the path of a certain Mr Shirky before now…

And there is nothing big or clever about pointing out the odd clanger that a distant algorithm makes; nor is there anything new to it, either. It has been a little hobby horse in this neck of the woods for a while now; ever since I too tried to prise a journalistic living off AdSense way back when on

But, for me, if The Guardian is determined to stick to its ‘content-for-free’ guns and not follow The Times behind the nearest paywall, then there’s nothing particularly big or clever about offering Boulogne aquarium ads on Greek terrorist stories; or traffic management ads whilst celebrating your web traffic figures.

Actually, as far as I can see there’s nothing big or clever for in being on the Guardian web traffic page; probably not their ‘target’ audience. But we digress…

Guardian/Leeds is a tiny, tiny outpost in the huge and complex web octopus that is

But last month we managed to find two, local web advertisers willing to cough a tenner a week to get themselves in front of an appropriate and relevant audience. Actually, they found Guardian/Leeds… they placed their ads themselves.

So that’s £72 a month. Off two text ads. Neither of which requires clicking on for The Guardian to earn. Both advertiser and publisher know that they are there for a week. Or a month. Or whatever. Come-what-may click and action-wise.


Now all they’ve got to do is find another two for this month; or for another two to find them… not always so simple, granted. DIY advertising still requires a level of education; awareness.

But then nor is building new web models simple as the old world order crumbles and disintegrates; we all have to start again from fresh - seek out new revenue streams from the bottom up, not lazily live off the crumbs from top down.

And, for me, it all starts from the streets of Leeds up; not from the hallways of Mountain View down.

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