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Business or Tech

August 4th, 2007

Most people I know fall rather squarely on either the “business side” (marketing, sales, account management) or the “tech side” (engineer, support, product management, etc.). If you’re in doubt, there’s a rather simple test that almost always works to identify who is who. Imagine this situation, an ad is shown on a website. The advertiser is “Cingular”, the publisher is the New York Times. There are two brokers involved in this transaction, ad-networks ValueClick and has a direct relationship with the New York Times and daisy-chains the impression to ValueClick which works directly with Cingular. Each party is using their own tracking system.

I can draw this in two different ways:


The difference here is very subtle. Which one do you think is correct? #1 or #2? If you were at a white board explaining this situation to someone how would you draw it? Think about it for a second before reading on.

In my experience, those who pick #1 are tech-inclined whereas picking #2 indicates an inclination towards the business side of things. Why? Pretty simple actually. This ad-impression can be thought of in two ways, a series of financial transactions between four business entities OR a series of HTTP redirects. Technically the impression starts when the user visits the New York Times and flows towards the advertiser via a series of ad tags to, then Valueclick and finally Cingular. Financially the money starts with Cingular and flows first to ValueClick, then and finally to the New York Times.

A tech person tends to follow the flow of the ad-call whereas a business person tends to follow the money. When I first started in online advertising I would only draw #1 on a white board, but since have learned to change the way I draw things depending on who I’m talking to.

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  • John DeMayo

    I’d start with the user initiating a request to NYT and then proceed with #1.

  • Dave B

    Very cool Mike. I chose #1 :)

  • Justin Hitt

    Yes, I guess it would really matter who you were talking with. I’m very technical but picked #2 because I read … Cingular advertised with ValueClick who syndicates through and was displayed on NYTimes.

    But if I was explaining the technical aspect (i.e. latency or page integration), then I’d say … NYTimes displays advertising from which in this case displayed an ad from Cingular through a ValueClick account.

    Supporting the on-line advertising process, we need to be aware of both, whether technical or in the site administration. Just discovered your blog today, great work.



  • Mike On Ads » Blog Archive » A Nice Online-Ad 101 Post

    [...] I will point out that Ian is clearly on the tech side of the fence though — he draws the industry as a flow of impressions from publishers to advertisers, whereas most media focused folks will think of the reverse — money flowing from the advertiser to the publisher. If you have no clue what I”m talking about, check out my old post: Business or Tech. [...]