The announcment that Yahoo is buying ad network Blue Lithium comes at a ponderous time for me since I’m just wrapping up the research for Forrester’s forecast of Interactive Marketing Spending and (report is due Sept 28). Per that research, I’m finding that indeed interactive budgets are on their way up with marketers (still) most interested in search and (newly interested in) online video. Display ads continue to be a part of almost all online campaigns and yet no marketer has much to say about them. Marketers and vendors alike have commented that display ads as a medium have undersold themselves since the early 2000s. Basically display ads have capabilities that no marketer knows/cares about. Or that has not yet been fully exploited.
My take on display ads’ "lack of sexiness" is related to the Yahoo/Blue Lithium deal. Basically, I think display ads could actually be the backbone of every marketing campaign if they were 1) better targeted, 2) better designed, 3) used as part of an ongoing marketing conversation. I think Yahoo buying Blue Lithium is another of several moves toward beefing up the capabilities of online ads. Google is starting to geo-target display ads. With this acquisition, Yahoo will extend its behavioral targeting capabilities onto a much broader network of sites. All improvements in the value and function of display ads. Next to come will be time or sequence based targeting where ads show up in places delivering messages related to prior communications received via display ads or other channels.
I think Yahoo/Blue Lithium is great news for BL, a smart investment for Yahoo and generally spells the betterment and validation of online advertising.