My cross-channel moment

I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about digital advertising. Probably more than I should. It’s an occupational hazard given the fact that most of my clients over the past three years have been in ad tech. Sometimes though you can’t see the forest for the trees and I just had a cross-channel experience that was something I’ve only thought about in the abstract.

I use VSCO as the main camera on my Galaxy S4. It’s pretty nice and has a ton of controls and reasonable presets. At some point I gave VSCO my email address. Today I got an email letting me know about a new set of analog/aesthetic filters. The email included a link to learn more.

That took me to a blog post with more details. I checked it out and it seemed cool. The post said the filters were available in the in-app store so I pulled out my phone, fired up the app and went to the store. Downloaded them in no time, easy as pie.

Here’s a pic of my soon-to-be-retired glasses using one of the filters.


It seems weird that I can’t think of having done this before, or even of being aware of the opportunity to do this. Every day I get a ton of offers – through email, online, in Facebook, in-app, etc. – but I rarely bother to see what they’re about. Most of them just aren’t that interesting or well targeted. This one was and VSCO managed to move me from my email to their site and to my phone. I’m glad they did. It’s nice this whole ad tech thing in action sometimes.

Poor Ad Placement by a Premium Publisher

You would think by this point in the development of online advertising things like this wouldn’t happen. As I read the New York Time’s coverage of the tragic loss of Malaysian Air Flight 370, a large banner expanded in the middle of the page. It was a photograph of a stretch of empty ocean with clouds across the horizon.

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When the image initially appeared I assumed it was content related to the story. When I read the copy I realized it was promoting the Fontainbleau hotel in Miami and was frankly stunned.

So what went wrong? Was the placement determined by the content of the story? Are the automated systems in use so trusted that human review is no longer part of the process? Have publishers cut back on the resources to review placements to ensure they aren’t adding insult to injury?

Whatever the cause, this type of juxtaposition of advertising and editorial isn’t OK. Publishers need to do a better job of policing the user experience to prevent damage to their own brands and to their advertisers.

It’s worth noting that within 30 minutes of my seeing this ad it no longer appeared in the story. That’s a good thing but it’s unfortunate that this occurred at all.