You Got Your Tags In My Contextual Advertising…
from the tag-that-ad dept
Take two things, each of which may be overhyped in their own way, and mash them together… and something interesting might occur. Thanks to Google’s success, everyone is focused on contextual advertising these days and trying to figure out how to leverage them — though, the “just slap AdSense on this new site” business model isn’t much to write home about. Instead, others are trying to really take on Google by offering alternatives to Google’s AdSense program. We already spoke about Amazon’s plan to offer its own contextual advertising program, but another online retailer is trying to do something different. CafePress, the online retailer that lets people offer their own branded products, is combining ads with tags. Tags, of course, are also overhyped in a variety of ways. However, there are some areas where they can be useful — and CafePress’s tagged ads might be a good example.
While most people think of the company as a place to simply sell t-shirts, not enough people recognize how CafePress really catalogs timely events. Within hours of any major news event, it seems that someone, somewhere will have set up a Cafe Press store to sell items related to that event. Of course, with such rapid setup of timely news-related products, regular contextual advertising doesn’t necessarily work. So, instead, CafePress is offering a program where people can define specific tags, and immediately have ads for related products show up. In other words, rather than contextual ads, the ad topic can be very narrowly defined by the site owner. This certainly makes sense for the type of timely content on CafePress, but you could see it make sense elsewhere as well — where the context of the words on a site might not necessarily correctly suggest what ads should be displayed. Of course, there are also some concerns — with the biggest one being the issue that faces most open tagging systems: spam. The various merchandisers may start gaming the system by tagging their own unrelated products as being part of the latest breaking news story to get extra buzz from sites that jump on the story. Also, this whole idea would require site owners to be proactive in adjusting these ad tags — something that many probably won’t really be willing to do.