Posted January 26, 2007 11:50 am by with 6 comments

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Merrell Ligons has come up with a new idea for targeting ads on a web site. As you know, it often takes repeat exposure to get a consumer to notice an ad and recall the company. Merrell suggests that, instead of exposing a site visitor to multiple ads, why not show them just one ad for their entire user session?

What if an advertiser was able to sponsor user sessions instead of buying impressions? For the less technical folks, what if we could guarantee an advertiser that as long as someone is on a website their ad or ads would be the only ones displayed. You could even have a series of banners that displays in succession as the user clicks through the website. 

Now, would that be a cool user experience or just spooky? Anyone offering this type of targeted advertising already? I think the idea has a lot of merit, assuming your visitors tend to read more than just one page per visit.

  • Sounds like a good idea. However, I can see how it could also be an annoyance.

  • I think this is a good idea. I’d definitely want to do a test on it.

  • I think some ad servers may do this a bit already as part of their optimisation.The effect isn’t that noticable if there are lots of campaigns running on a site though.

    On one of our sites we had two campaigns running of equal weight, but the ad manager was complaining she could only see one of them. We investigated and discovered that the ad server (DART) did appear to follow you session. If you kept refreshing then you got the same ad, but when you cleared your cookie it was 50-50 you’d see the other one.

    Ad servers optimise to give maximum click rates – but since campaigns are booked for an impression delivery target it has to worry about that first…

    Plus there is a balance – when paying by the impression you also want to maximise your reach. The question is, what is better – 10 people for 10 mins or 1000 people for 10 seconds.

  • I think this makes total sense, especially if the ad progressed into a message based on clicks. For example, landing page has ad #1 and that ad says “hi”. The reader clicks on the next page and the ad says “here’s my product” and then another click and ad # 3 says “heres a testimonial”.

    The ads could build on the previous ads to get a message across. Sites with good multiple page view stats could sell these ads at a higher premium than sites that only get 1 or two page visits.

  • The New York Times began offering user targeting via their in-house ad server a few years back (around 2003). They called it “Surround Sessions” and gives an advertiser the ability to create ads that would follow a user for up to five pages (if I remember right). Also, there was the ability to create story-like, multi-page ads that would follow the user for consecutive pages.

    It’s described here on their media kit here:

  • Yes. And it does work.

    But you are just scratching the surface of a much bigger opportunity. Why limit the experience to repeating the ad? In fact, just repeating might be counterproductive, as it is extremely unlikely that the display ad would be highly relevant in 3-5 different contexts.

    Instead, why not conceive of multipage ad units. It is what we do and it does work. Multipage targeting that goes beyond simple frequency works extremely well.

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