Village Voice Media Begins Geotargeting Ads

Well, this is interesting. Village Voice Media appears to have switched to geotargeted ad serving as of Feb 10th, as Ana pointed out in the comments.

Here’s an example from the Broward Palm Beach New Times property where I’m not seeing a combination of ads for non-profits and American Express rather than ads for local businesses when I view the site from Toronto.

Broad Palm Beach New Times 2/10/2009

I confirmed this with a few friends who, from Minneapolis for example, see ads that are relevant to them in Minneapolis while visiting, say the Houston Press. For example, they may see ads for apartments for rent in Edina while reading the Houston Press from their home in Minneapolis.

This is an excellent step toward improving the quality of advertising for local businesses. Ideally, VVM would leverage the power of their network to serve local businesses ads to relevant visitors to any of their properties. I imagine they’re working on moving that direction.

Last Thursday’s post about Village Voice Media gaming Digg wasn’t primarily about Digg. Some people missed that based on the comments I read here and on many other sites over the past week. The crux of the problem was that serving ads from local businesses against Digg traffic from around the country and world was a short-sighted strategy that provides little value to local businesses.

Now that VVM has made the switch, Digg gaming becomes less of a problem from my perspective. It still shows that Digg is too easily gamed by organized groups promoting marginal content, but that’s a problem if the people behind Digg think it’s a problem.

12 thoughts on “Village Voice Media Begins Geotargeting Ads”

  1. This is excellent news. My major concern with the pre-geo approach was that VVM would churn and turn away ad clients from all online advertising (not just their website). That approach might have worked years ago (if even then) when internet growth was strong, but in today’s economy there are plenty of reasons to trim budgets that aren’t performing.

    For VVM to give legitimate advertising clients reasons to leave was truly short-sighted. Those people who say it is a ‘buyer-beware’ world were just being short-sighted also, anyone in sales knows it costs more money to find the next customer than to keep the existing ones happy.

    To unknowingly set up ad clients to under-perform on their ad spend is bad business; to knowingly do so ran the risk of discover like yours where words like misrepresentation and fraud can be argued.

    In the long run, VVM should thank you, you likely have saved them both ad clients and lawsuits.

  2. Ed:

    Now would be a good time to point out that it takes much longer to implement geo-targeting than a week or two, and that your blog had absolutely nothing to do with VVM taking this step. To let your readers believe otherwise would be pretty disingenuous, and you don’t seem like that type of fella.

  3. Say Hey Kid, here’s whay I know: I can do this in under 5 minutes using a free ad serving platform called Google AdManager. I don’t believe VVM is using this particular ad server, so it may have taken them longer. This isn’t exactly rocket science in 2009, so I’m having a hard time buying your story.

    As I understand the situation at VVM, the non-geotargeting of local business’ ads had been a known but ignored problem for quite some time. If I coincidentally wrote about the problem before they finally woke up and changed, I blame the four people with VVM who refused to communicate that to me before I published my post last week.

  4. One other thought: If VVM really WAS in the process of switching to geotargeting, why didn’t they respond to the claim on any of the dozens of sites that wrote about the issue last week? For example, a quick comment here would have diffused the topic long before it went viral.

    Was that because VVM wasn’t really working on the issue at that time, or online PR incompetance?

  5. They did leave a comment — on this very site — explaining that geo-targeting was in the works. And, yes, it had been well before your blog.

    I’m sure it’s far more difficult to coordinate geo-targeting for a company with 15-20 web properties across the country than it is for the Deets. And honestly: Do you actually believe that it had never occurred to VVM to geo-target their ads before you pointed it out?

    Look: You bring up some smart, interesting points in your blogs, however strangely obsessed with VVM they may be. Don’t let your ego piss all over your decent work.

  6. I don’t see any comments from a VVM employee on that thrad other than a VVM employee confirming the Digg ring.

    I took a quick glance through the comments on that post and can’t find what you’re describing. Please link to it or provide a username or timestamp so I can see for myself. I do see a comment that claims VVM was already geotargeting ads, which I immediately debunked. Last week, they weren’t geotargeting. As of yesterday, they were. That’s what I see.

    If VVM’s ad server is anything like the one used by me (I realize my site is small by comparison, but the technology I use isn’t small in scale) they would just need to change the geotargeting at the placement level. So, ads being served to the CityPages site would just have to be adjusted to appropropriate geographies. Time 14 or so, it’s less than 2 hours or 1-time work.

  7. I think I’ve met sayheykid before….he reminds me of developer who tried to charge me hundreds of dollars to install google webmaster verification code lol. Don’t you just love it when people try to make web development seem like its more complicated than it really is?

  8. Why are you treating City Pages like a legitamate media outlet anyways?

    It seems like your average TC blogger has more readers, more respect for others intellectual propoerty and more legitamacy than these guys do. The only difference is that City Pages is wasting reams of paper distributing their publication at “newstands” throughout the Twin Cities.

    Well, I guess they aren’t as bad as the telephone phone book companies…..

  9. Matt, say what you will about the quality of their journalism, but they do make real money from real businesses and steal real photos from real businesses. Both of those are legitimate concerns.

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