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Archive for July, 2008

Online Ad Targeting: Fine Grain Targeting vs. Coarse Grain Delivery

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Behavioral ad targeting has been getting a lot of attention in the press lately, especially around the US Congress’ interest ing the technology. In general ad targeting of various shapes and forms is also becoming a busy space for startups - various types of targeting technologies trying to understand the users intent, and provide them with an appropriate advertisement.

When I looked a bit closer into what most of these ad targeting companies do, it turns out that after they have used whatever mechanism (contextual, behavioral, demographic, psychographic etc.) to decide who you are and what interests you, they translate this into one of a very small number of consumer segments, pick an ad for that segment and display it to you. So all that fancy computation upfront to provide a canned ad. Seems kinda of a waste. Wouldn’t it make more sense to create a personal, data driven ad (from one or more advertisers) to leverage that information? That would be the “holy-grail” of true 1-1 personalized advertising.

This growing impedance mismatch between the fine grain targeting ability of ad networks vs. the coarse grain delivery capability of advertisers is going “short-circuit” the ability of these targeting technologies to show their full potential.

eMail and Human Process Management

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Zvi referred me to an interesting post on read-write web on Is Email In Danger? by Alex Iskold, and in many ways the comments were just as interesting as the article. It is clear that email vs. twitter vs. IM vs. wiki is a topic that interests people.  Even though those tools overlap in functionality, I’d bet each will find its proper place and there won’t be one winner.  It would be interesting to see the best practices that are forming about when people use which tool. Just like Fedex, US Mail and email all coexist comfortably…

Personally I am sure that at least in a corporate setting, email is not going to be replaced in the foreseable future. The main reason is that email has become more than just “electronic mail” it has become the implicit mechanism of choice for managing many (if not most) the Human Processes in most organizations.

Using email for unstructured human centric processes is both its strength and its weakness. Just the fact that email is amenable to so many diverse, unstructured processes (and all without IT support) is a huge benefit, the downside is that email isn’t really optimized for managing those processes (but rather for single messages) - so we get Information Overload in our inbox. Threaded conversations are an interesting innovation, but they don’t solve the problem either.

Think about it - in many companies there are specialty systems for the “standard, heavy-duty” processes (like ERP, CRM), but for the other processes (or as someone coined the outside SAP - or OSAP processes) - what does everybody use? eMail! Even if you have a system in place for a specific process - how do you handle exceptions? eMail! How do you work across organizational silos (or across companies)? eMail!

So as I said, I don’t think eMail will be going away any time soon.

Back to Blogging

Monday, July 14th, 2008

It has been a long time since my last post -I guess I just couldn’t keep up the pace. Writing the blog is hard work, and I just couldn’t find the extra time to keep posting.

So now I’ll take another tack - I’ll try to keep things up to date with shorter, less elaborate posts more often. Lets see how long I can keep that up.

BTW - I finally received the eBook, the screen is gorgeous - very readable. I think it was a worthwhile purchase, even though it ended up costing me a lot more than I expected. If I was living in the US a Kindle would probably have been a better choice. The nicest thing about it is that you can take lots of different books with you anywhere, and if you live outside the US - gives you exponentially more book selection, and much lower price per book than you can find in physical bookstore. The main issue is with formats - there are many ebook formats out there, and different devices are compatible with different formats.

The “prosumer” experiment was interesting too. In today’s user generated content world, one irate customer can cause a lot of damage (by negative posts on blogs). I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing that all-in-all, trying to “contain” my complaints cost BooksOnBoard a lot more than if they would have just fixed or replaced my device.  That kind of irrational response fits very well with an excellent book I am reading (on my eBook of course) - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.