Automated Ads to figure out what your creative ought to be, plus more.

Read a lot of good stuff in the New York Times, but sometimes, I notice, the news I get from the NYT is “non-news”, like a re-digestion of information that’s already out there and digested already – like Web Marketing That Hopes to Learn What Attracts a Click today.

How different is this “change” from Google Website Optimizer or Omniture Touch Clarity – or a bunch of other multivariate testing platforms, many that have been around for a while?

Top, an ad for Sears by Tumri, with changing pictures and type. Bottom, a version of the same ad with additional pictures.

Now, a new breed of companies is trying to tackle all of those options and determine what ad works for a specific audience. They are creating hundreds of versions of clients’ online ads, changing elements like color, type font, message, and image to see what combination draws clicks on a particular site or from a specific audience.

It is technology that could cause a shift in the advertising world. The creators and designers of ads have long believed that a clever idea or emotional resonance drives an ad’s success. But that argument may be difficult to make when analysis suggests that it is not an ad’s brilliant tagline but its pale-yellow background and sans serif font that attracts customers.

Nothing new here – no new information but it reminds me of something I noticed recently as I read the New York Times – that the same news story (with one headline) is added to then the headline is change (second headline) – it looks like a different story but ends up being, more or less, the same story as the first headline, but with an extra update or two.

Recently, I’ve heard that as newspapers cut back and change their business models (and Journalist bloggers like Jeff Jarvis write about it – see A complete ecology of news) there’s less and less Journalists left to write the news.  But rather than admit that – and just start using citizen journalists to fill in the gap, newspapers like the New York Times, make the same story seem like 3 or 4 different stories by just changing the title every hour or two – keeping the same stuff up on the front page as long as possible – to make up for the fact there really isn’t that much new content they have to put up.

Another aspect of this – I see some interesting stories from time to time, but don’t have the chance to bookmark them or post about it – or even annotate in Facebook, FriendFeed or Twitter.   A day or two later, I try finding that story in the New York Times, can’t even remember what it’s called anymore and often have a problem searching for it.

It’s almost as if what I should have is a search that allows me to recreate what is on the New York Times frontpage (or any page) at a certain point in time – say, when I recall seing the article I want to go back and read about – but nothing like that is on the New York Times site.

However, I wrote about Zoetrope, the other day, and when Zoetrope is released, it might be able to do what all the technology of the New York Times is failing to do – tell me what was on a page at any point of time and what the content of the story was at any point in time.

I guess, my point in this post, is the technology for changing ads to see what variation is most effective is old news; unless there’s something new in the article – a new slant – I’m not sure it’s worth printing.  ON the other hand, to make up for the lack of content – newspapers like the New York Times are recycling the same stories by changing the titles and adding a few lines, but otherwise, not fundamentally changing the story or providing much meaningful new information.

It’s time to supplement paid journalists with social media provided by readers who, admittingly, might need to be reviewed first, but who have valuable input, and can make up for the lack of content papers seem to be facing, more and more.

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