Defining An Industry

In last week’s responses on the Spin Board to my article concerning GRPs, there were a number of great points made and there is one that I would like to discuss here. One of the respondents stressed that a GRP online needs to be defined the same as a standard GRP, not as an eGRP. I could not agree more with this statement.

If nothing else, I am a proponent of the fact that our industry needs to speak the same language as that of traditional advertising (And I think I have stressed this point before). The GRP that I am hoping we can arrive at is not an eGRP, but the same as a traditional GRP. The more that we have to explain the differences and the definitions of our terminology, the longer it will take for us to acquire larger portions of traditional ad budgets. Traditional marketers are still standing on the sidelines saying, “Come back and talk to me when you’ve got your act together”… Which brings up an important point.

Across the board, we need to arrive at standard definitions for online ad inventory. Over the last few weeks I have placed media dollars for a number of clients and it seems that every sales rep I work with still has a different definition for a placement and every ad server has a different definition for their tools. There are category drop-downs, category text panels, sponsored listings, featured listings, search listings, search results, ad-words, and keywords. We have conversion tracking, non-click conversion tracking, view-through, extended conversion, and lag-conversion as well as “standard” click-through and impressions. We have pop-ups, superstitials, webmercials, interstitials, pre-stitials and more.

Once again, complexity is killing us. It is a well-known fact that if you require too much time to explain your point, you will lose the attention of the person you are explaining it to. Like I mentioned once before, you get 3 sentences to express something and then it’s likely that our audience stops paying attention. In journalism, your headline is supposed to grab their attention, and the first sentence of every paragraph is supposed to explain the point. These “rules” may seem harsh, but our industry is still facing an uphill battle for budgets and we need to become more efficient with our time and our energy. We need to utilize our time showing online ad effectiveness, not trying to explain what online advertising is.

Our industry is notorious for avoiding the opportunity to directly address an issue. It took 4 years to come to a standard Terms and Conditions document for Insertion Orders and all sites still haven’t adopted it. It has taken years to “standardize” ad sizes and there are still thousands of ad sizes in use online. Why can’t we find some way to incentivize companies to adopt these standards? Why can’t we find a way to enforce them?

Over the next few weeks, from September to December, there are a number of gatherings, conferences, summits, and other meetings of the minds. I implore the folks who will be in attendance at these events to utilize this time to truly address these issues. Those of you are not attending these events should ask yourselves how your companies can make a concerted effort to push for change. Perform an objective examination of your own company’s efforts to address these issues and determine if you are doing your part. There is a vocal minority of people online who address the issues, but it’s the silent majority that needs to implement these ideas. It is going to take pressure from all sides for us to right the ship and get it running full steam ahead. You and I know that the interactive space is important and effective, so lets get to the business at hand of proving it.

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