I wrote a bit about this the other day when I asked whether brand advertisers were actually going to migrate to the web. Everyone presumes they will - what, with TV viewers, newspaper readers and radio listeners each shrinking daily. The logic being that if those forms of media continue to decline audience wise, brand advertisers will have to go to the web because it'll be the only game in town - or one of a few anyway.
Lately when I've been thinking about contextual advertising, I haven't been thinking about it in terms of how an ad can be made contextual to the content of a web page, but rather how and if an ad is and can be contextual to the web period. In other words, what products and services are conducive to web advertising in general, never mind the form?
The obvious answer to that question are those things that are related to the web. Everyday people come to the web to read, write, watch and listen to certain classes of products and services. If your in those businesses, the web is a great medium. For instance, if your sitting in Hollywood and want to have your next picture promoted online, you should feel good. There are all sorts of paces that people go to watch trailers, get reviews, discuss plots, gossip about stars, etc. that are perfect outlets for your advertising. Same with cars, books, etc.
But what if you make soap? Or toothpaste? Or whiskey? Or shoelaces? Where's the right place to advertise those online? Sure you could do some banner ad buy and hope that some percentage of people actually notice your ad, but since they they won't, it'll be ineffective. So is the web the right place for you to spend marketing dollars? Probably not. Unless you can find people actively looking for informtation on your product - i.e. Google. Other than that, shampoo ads online seem like clothes ads on the radio: out of place.
So what does all this mean? Well, as soap, toothpaste, etc. ads can be contextualized to the TV and the radio (the passive viewing experience), there are advertising dollars spent there. But when you're sizing up the web advertising market in the future, I'm not sure you can include all of the old TV, radio and newspaper spends. Some things might not make it.