I was catching up on content from last week’s Ad Age digital conference when I came across this clip. Turner Executive Walker Jacobs begins by exploring some common themes with respect to tension between top publishers and networks, but the part that really caught my attention is the short exchange at the very end of the clip between prominent market analyst Henry Blodget and David Moore, Chairman of ad network 24/7 (now renamed B3 within WPP):
Moore: “It wouldn’t hurt us at all if every premium site out there never used us again. We’d be fine. We don’t need ‘em.”
Blodget: “So, to heck with quality content.”
Moore: “Quality, really, is in the eye of the beholder.”
I had to rewind the clip and watch a few times to make sure I understood what Mr. Moore was saying. I was, frankly, a little shocked to hear that from a senior executive at WPP, parent company of some of the premier agencies in online advertising, who represent many of the most iconic brand marketers on the planet – AT&T, Unilever, Sprint, Macy’s, Campbell’s Soup and Colgate Palmolive among them. I’ve had the privilege to work with each of those brands in my past life with Greg Coleman and Wenda Millard at Yahoo!, and have worked again with many of them in my new life at Brand.net. Throughout that decade of experience, these brands have consistently reinforced the critical importance of both the quality of execution and the quality of the content surrounding their ads. In short, the eyes of these beholders have insisted on very high content quality standards.
Because of this, we only buy from top quality sites. If every premium site out there never used us again, it would not be possible for us to meet our clients’ standards for top quality ad environments. However, the way the web is evolving makes maintaining quality an ever more difficult challenge. The common practice of intermingling professional edit and UGC on the same page means that even if we start with the best sites, there are some individual pages that can create problems (most often due to user comments). This is why we assembled a top notch technical team that in partnership with IBM has delivered a market-leading page-level filtering capability we call SafeScreen. SafeScreen allows us to deliver the best of the best to our clients, which is what they look to us to provide. Starting with top quality sites and continuing to lead the market with page-level filtering capability, we take our commitment to quality seriously and we always will. It’s who we are. And it’s what top advertisers told us at Yahoo! and tell us at Brand.net they are looking for from a partner.
So, a word to our premium site partners: we *do* need you, we *will* need you, and we will continue to work with you on issues that matter to both of us, including the need to constructively avoid channel conflict. I am tired of glorified link farms supported by belly fat ads. Let’s bring quality advertisers to quality content and watch the web thrive.