From a creative perspective, the premise is simple. Move from a lean-back unit to a lean-forward unit - one that offers new kinds of linear and non-linear narrative structures and functionality that LETS THE VIEWSER INTERACT AND SELF-SELECT from a variety of in-player video content.
What I learned, being the creative lead on that initiative, was that despite how much more sophisticated player software plumbing has gotten across the industry to deliver overlays, expansions, page rolls, and other "enhancements," the advertising still has to move you. And that comes down to the kind of creative that makes you feel -- not just think.
This means that the narrative craft of drawing you in and making you react emotionally is just as important online as it is in the craft of the :30 TV commercial. Creatively, this has been the challenge for the banner, the pre-roll, even the next whizzbang expandable rich-media application. These units may drive our ad-supported model, but they have not adequately proven their ability to make the consumer feel.
Conversely, many traditional creative directors cling to this emotional requisite, otherwise known as the "Big Idea," as the holy grail of real advertising currency that doesn't live online -- just in television. My experience listening to my creative peers is that secretly, it's an excuse to hide behind their lack of knowledge and practice in the interactive space. And this is precisely where creative agencies and their ego-driven cultures go left -- while the VC money and interactive media brethren go right. Hence the prolonged stasis we have been enduring since the first online video ads appeared in MSN Video and Yahoo.
But while sophisticated algorithms and software-based player plumbing might be great for delivering scale, targeting, near-real-time metrics and social data, they can't deliver the "feeling" -- only the messaging can do that.
Many DR-centric digital agencies are great at dynamic optimization of creative messages -- churning out dozens of copy versions and banner executions for one campaign; changing layouts on the fly and cramming the call to action into the ad from beginning to end -- in many cases before we've even gotten the consumer's attention. They have the craft of lead-gen down to a science -- but it's not an art.
Is this the interactive advertising we are destined to produce? Turning our creative departments into cookie-cutter banner factories that cram everything from a microsite into an expandable banner?
As a creative community, it's challenging to see how the increase in processor speed, storage and connections can enhance the way we can address and scale messages online.
The bigger task we all face is how to join hands and get great emotive creative -- the poetry -- to complement the plumbing.
We have the technology. We have the talent.
Now we just need the collaboration to do it hand in hand, or should I say, "mouse in hand?"