Mashable has a story up about contextual advertiser Proximic that I feel isn’t nearly as skeptical as it should be. Proximic contacted us several months ago with a request to try out their advertising network, and my feelings then and now are the same: I don’t see these ads gaining traffic.
Proximic’s hook is that they will display ads using a new advanced kind of contextual matching technology so that as you read web content related news, ads, and product listings display in a Firefox widget that you’ve downloaded. And, pow! Three red flags just jumped out at me: in order to get traffic users will have to 1) find out about Proximic and 2) download and run the widget 3) in their Firefox browser. First of all, Firefox only has about 36% share of the browser market, which instantly cuts out the other 64% of your potential audience. That’s a lot of audience to cede. Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, even if/after users are made aware of the service, why would they care enough to download and install it? I know we direct response marketers like to flatter ourselves that bringing people news of the exciting world of merch is truly a benefit to said people, but unless there’s some sort of additional benefit to end users (such as discounts) I don’t think merely the idea of having Really Well Targeted Stuff would be enough of a draw to drive use of the widget.
So, neato cool technology that seems very little connected with how actual consumers act.