Inside Innovation

We're hearing a lot about innovation these days. And we're going to hear a whole lot more, as audiences click their way to a more immediate, individual, and impatient online media experience. Publishers will need to measure up to a two-tiered expectation -- outside and inside -- that's a cut above convention.

The outside innovation is public: creative ways of engaging audiences that are visible on the site. The inside innovation is private: creative ways of helping advertisers take advantage of these opportunities.

Here's the kicker: True innovation takes an inside job.

The more creative publishers get with advertising delivery, the more creative reps have to get in the selling process. I'm not talking about hyping inventory; breakthrough units speak for themselves. I'm talking about paving the way for advertisers to take advantage of them. Not every advertiser can envision creative ad units and programs; and not every agency is set up to create the demonstrations needed to show them off properly.

So what does the real thing look like?

Tremor Media now sells a Video Showcase that houses multiple videos. Click on a video, and it plays in a larger size. The Showcase boasts CTRs several times those of standard or rich media ad units. The first time Justin Schacter at Tremor showed me the Showcase, I liked it for a major client presentation I was preparing, but I didn't have the creative resources to build a mock-up. So Tremor's creative team built one for me.

Several times since, we have asked Tremor to help us develop ad units for clients. We provide creative assets, the creative agency provides direction, and a Showcase is ready to run. On at least one occasion, Tremor's work won my agency an assignment, because the client felt the need to test Showcase on its own ad units.

That's true innovation: an innovative advertising program with creative and production pros to develop the units for agencies and advertisers.

As online buying intensifies -- more options, more time pressure, and faster reports on ad response -- breaking through the internal clutter will be paramount for publishers. On a weekly basis, I meet with at least 10 publishers, talk to another 25 on the phone, and email with 50 more. So taking a complete approach to innovation will mean the difference between getting a hearing and getting an order. What's more: Do it right, and you'll get the call every time.

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