The Law Of 3… Or Why Are Things Still So Complex?

by , Jul 24, 2002, 12:00 AM
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Here is an exercise that I think it would behoove each of us to undertake… Put down that piece of paper and stop typing for a moment. Please take a deep breath and then explain in 3 sentences or less what is interactive advertising?

It’s not easy to do, is it?

Internet advertising suffers from the spirit of its own complexity. With all of the various technologies and methodologies that every company has adopted, it is basically impossible to explain to a traditional marketer why the Internet is well suited to reach your customers and become a part of the media mix.

Here are some fun numbers to think about:

  • According to various sources there are more than 8000 ad sizes in use on the web.
  • There are more than 6 different technologies used to build an ad unit (HTML, GIF, Flash, Java, Eyeblaster, Unicast, etc.).
  • There are at least 5 different buying methodologies online (CPM, CPC, CPA, Flat Fee, Surround Sessions).
  • There are dozens of tracking systems for different types of campaigns (DoubleClick, Atlas DMT, Mediaplex and others for ad tracking and BeFree, Linkshare, Performics and others for affiliate tracking).

    And yet, with all of these sources of technology and information and with all of the studies that have shown that the Internet is a tool for building brand awareness and customer acquisition, we still cannot compare what we do to any other form of advertising in an apples to apples comparison.

    I had a client a few years back who taught me that everything I would ever need to say should be done so in 3 sentences or less. If I could not explain something in 3 sentences or less it was probably because I didn’t completely understand it myself. I adopted this for all of my business and even asked sales people the same question (and for the record, they hate it).

    We need to find a way to simplify what we do. There are still companies popping up every day that attempt to complicate the issue (how many different ways can we possibly refer to a pop-up?), but somehow we need to simplify things. When a traditional marketer asks, “Why should I place ad dollars in interactive media?”, the answer should be short and sweet; 3 sentences or less.

    The Planning, Buying and Creative development processes are the elements that need to be simplified the most. Planning and Buying needs to be comparable to other forms of media. There can still be experts that focus on Interactive, but the cost basis for online media needs to be comparable to other forms of media; hence the GRP debate that we are all in the midst of. Creative development needs to simplify down to the core ad sizes (refer to the Magnificent Seven for my opinions) and this needs to happen soon.

    Reporting and analysis will continue to be the way that they are now, and that is actually fine. It speaks to the accountability of the Internet and is actually the direction of all other forms of media as well.

    If we could explain our industry in 3 sentences or less, marketers will listen. If we can explain our industry in 3 sentences of less, that would mean we completely understand it.

    And just for the record, here is my take on the 3 sentences:

    1. Interactive is the only medium that provides the opportunity to have a dialogue between the company and their client.
    2. Interactive advertising is based on unique exposure of a marketing message to a specific audience and all costs come as a result of that exposure.
    3. Interactive is the only medium where you can acquire immediate results on the effectiveness of your campaign and therefore reduce the risk associated with your advertising budgets.

    I welcome your feedback.

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