"Not enough attention is being paid to great creative and the long-term impact on a brand and consumer engagement with great creative," Rothenberg said during J.P. Morgan's "Advertising/Marketing Virtual Summit," a conference call featuring outlooks from the heads of the top advertising-related media trade associations, including the IAB.
Rothenberg said the push, which would be described in greater detail during the IAB's annual conference Feb. 22-24 in Orlando, was an effort to overcome perceptions of "creative shabbiness" in online media, and to help prevent the slide toward a "performance-based" Internet advertising economy.
While so-called performance-based approaches such as search and click-based and lead-generation based advertising models have helped sustain online media's growth, Rothenberg indicated that it was time for online publishers to reclaim some of the premium advertising turf vs. general market media, especially network television.
The challenge, he said, was entrenched perceptions inside big advertising agencies that online is not a creative medium, as well as their dependence on so-called "reach and frequency" media planning principles.
"I think media mix modeling is still in the dark ages," he charged, adding, "We tend to look and judge everything in the brand field on the basis of reach and frequency."
He said that might have been right for an era of mass media and passive media consumers, but he said that media planning doctrine no longer fits the way people actually use media today.
"It doesn't do a very good job of helping you plan or helping you assess a social media campaign," he said, equating reach and frequency planning as appropriate for a "white noise" medium like television, but not right for an "engaged medium" such as online, where "the audience requests everything."
As a result, he says online has been painted with a "direct response" brush, which has a strong ROI and effectiveness component that is good in the current weak economy, because marketers tend to shift "above-the-line" traditional advertising campaigns into "below-the-line" marketing initiatives such as direct response, but it does little to elevate the perception of online's premium communications value.