Sharvanboskirk [Posted by Shar VanBoskirk]

I had breakfast last Friday with Robert Tas, CEO of Sportgenic an ad network and advertising management platform focused on targeting advertising to sports enthusiasts.  He was in Boston meeting some agency partners (although he did manage to catch game 7 of the Celtics/Bulls series while in town!)

He shared a few observations based on ad sales at his business so far this year:

*Like most publishers, he is finding that advertisers are shifting dollars away from branding and toward direct response vehicles because of the recession.  He and I both agreed that this is a very short-sighted strategy.  Not only does it set your firm up for a poor recovery after the recession ends, but it also means you are likely paying more per conversion than if you invested in some upstream activity focused on warming up an audience to convert easier when they reach the direct response of point of sale touchpoint.

*He's seeing limited experiments with mobile.  Despite the advances in mobile devides and the promise the mobile medium holds for marketers (and of course to the chagrin of my Forrester colleagues here dedicated to mobile marketing), I maintain my cynicism about mobile as well.  With limited marketing budgets available today.  I would definitely invest in trusted channels first and wiat for mobile to work out some more of its kinks. 

*Recent new investment is coming from auto and financial services companies.  After being dark for several months, these industries are back buying online doing reach campaigns (cheaper than TV) and targeting specific users in market for new cars or investments.

*The recession is breeding bad habits.  I have a theory that because business is slower during the recssion, vendors and marketers actually have time to think and develop, which will lead to a burst of innovation after purse strings open back up at the end of the downturn.  Tas, decidedly disagreed with me.  He is finding that marketers are so focused on getting results that they are going after any and all low hanging fruit.  This means they aren't necessarily doing the right thing, but rather doing the thing that gets them to their needed result.  And of course, it will be hard to break bad habits that have been practiced throughout an 18-24 month recession.