I used to be a great believer that contextual or behavioral targeting would start making online advertising truly relevant, maybe even come to be viewed as useful and informative as web visitors always would find them relevant.
There was even a glimpse of hope as Facebook talked about the possibility to put their modules outside of Facebook. Which would in effect allow any banner anywhere to know who you where – if you where visiting and had a Facebook account with all your history, friends, moods and interests in it.
But, how smart can an algorithm, any algorithm, ever become?
Today I believe that targeting will become better. But there is just no way an inanimate piece of coding could understand a persons, interest, mood, motivations, patience, finances, dreams or attention span at any one time.
And the Semantic web won’t hold any silver bullet, as AdPunch and Pier39 suggests in this post on AdPunch.
What brands, and online traffic generators, need to start doing is create value. And value comes from understanding people and participants. If you don’t want to create your own traffic channel, like Nike+. Think more in the lines of advertising in glossy magazines – become a valuable part of the whole experience – ad value though valuable content, participation, engagement. Relevant to the core audience of the site.
People buy glossy magazines because of the advertising, not in spite of it – that is the silver bullet.
Become a partner of content, not just a sponsor of ad space. Think value, not just placement.