The Rose Tree, by W. B. Yeats

'O words are lightly spoken,'
Said Pearse to Connolly,
'Maybe a breath of politic words
Has withered our Rose Tree;
Or maybe but a wind that blows
Across the bitter sea.'

Without making too unnatural a stretch out of the analogy, the Rose Tree is our very own Web advertising industry. Over the past year, the 'breath of politic words' (i.e., the incessant heckling about plummeting click-through rates on banner ads) or 'wind that blows across the bitter sea' (i.e., the slowing economy that has caused marketers to slash their ad budgets) have 'withered our Rose Tree' (i.e., slowed the growth in Web advertising).

'It needs to be but watered,'
James Connolly replied,
'To make the green come out again
And spread on every side,
And shake the blossom from the bud
To be the garden's pride.'

Having continuing faith in the tree, James Connolly (whoever he may be) asserts that all the Rose Tree needs is basic sustenance ('It needs to be but watered') to make it blossom once again, and return it 'To be the garden's pride.' Business as usual; Connolly says water is all it will take. Or, continuing the analogy, all it will take for Web advertising to spring back to life is the same structure, sales pitches, and hype that got us here in the first place. Or will it?



'But where can we draw water,'
Said Pearse to Connolly,
'When all the wells are parched away?
O plain as plain can be
There's nothing but our own red blood
Can make a right Rose Tree.'

Pearse (clearly a more insightful character than Connolly) sees a clearer truth: the Rose Tree needs much more than water, which is in short supply anyway. It will require 'our own red blood' to make it right. And, fearlessly torturing this analogy even further, so will Web advertising. But what does red blood mean in this context?

Realizing that the Web is not a standalone medium. Focusing on how advertising really works to reach and affect the consumer, and then devising ways for how the Web can work in conjunction with other media.

Waking up to the fact that most clickable ads suck. The majority is easy to miss, easy to misunderstand, and lack the power to motivate the consumer. 'Red blood' means creating Web ads that WORK.

Creating dependable research tools on a par with those used by other media so that marketers and their agencies can have confidence in using the Web as an advertising platform.

Understanding that the Web is the most trackable and accountable medium in existence, and using the information it provides to optimize every Web-based campaign.

Exploring the wide variety of technologies available to Web advertisers so as to best attract the attention of the consumer.

So survival depends on anything but business as usual. It will require fresh insights and new tactics. But the Rose Tree-and Web advertising-are here to stay. They're just in need of some

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