Contextual ads in online communications – make sure the context is right

Neville Hobson has commented on work by Niall Kennedy to create a new "front-end" interface for Twitter that allows additional levels of customization to the web page for a Twitter user, to include local languages, different ways of linking, and, perhaps most importantly, serving of Google ads that are relevant to the specific user.

Relevance is a key consideration, because some of the current implementations of ad-supported SMS leave a lot to be desired in that department.

I’ve been subscribing to several of these ad-supported SMS feeds from the New Jersey Gannett newspapers in the past couple of months. At no cost to the user, the Asbury Park Press, Vineland Daily Journal, South Jersey Courier Post, and some others, have been inviting online readers to subscribe to receive up-to-the-minute headlines.

The service is actually pretty good, you get breaking news heads several times a day, and sometimes it’s even traffic warnings — that could be a whole separate revenue generator if they play it right.

The problem is the juxtaposition of the ads included with the news headlines. The ads are clearly randomized, but the very randomization makes them humorous in connection with the headlines they pay for, often in a dark and certainly unintended way.

Here are some examples.

WARNING: Don’t be sipping a beverage or eating food when you read these or you will either pass it through your nose or spray it all over your monitor.

 

COURIER-POST

Crash on Rt. 30 E between Ben Franklin Bridge and Federal St. – all lanes closed *Go Acela – Book at Amtrak.com

 

COURIER-POST

Barack Obama elected 44th President of the United States of America *Talk to your next date! Call 866-228-2164

 

THE DAILY JOURNAL

FAIRFIELD: Man arrested in September slaying *Feel silly? Reply JOKE

 

COURIER-POST

Water main break on Rt. 73 N at Rt. 38 – left lane closed. courierpostonline.com *Meet singles near U! Call 866-228-2164

 

ASBURY PARK PRESS

Aberdeen man admits in court to beating and drowning 19 cats *FREE HBO and Starz! Reply SATELLITE

 

THE DAILY JOURNAL

FRANKLIN: Three teens arrested in tool-theft case *Protect your family + home 24/7! Reply BRINKS

ASBURY PARK PRESS

Murder indictment of Jersey Shore nurse dismissed *Check out movie listings Reply BIGSCREEN

ASBURY PARK PRESS

Missing Jackson boy found in Brick this morning *FREE info on the best schools! Reply SCHOOL

 

THE DAILY JOURNAL

Financial rescue bill sails through House *Great deal! Save $$ @ Friendly’s! Reply FRIEND

 

ASBURY PARK PRESS

Man, 88, dies after fatally shooting wife at Community Medical Center *Escape to Myrtle Beach! Save $$$! Reply MYRTLE

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