Oh There You Are, Rising Stars

Last week at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Innovation Days and "The Future of Display," CEO Randall Rothenberg called for greater hands-on collaboration between strategy, creative and media -- and thanked big brands for leading the way.

This rallying imperative was delivered in the context of a presentation on the negative effects of media commoditization -- a state to which we have all, including big brands and agencies, contributed. We have kept our workflow in such a way as to prioritize commoditized buying; we have invested in systems that really only handle commoditized buying; we have stuck to compensation arrangements that incentivize commoditized buying.

But, amid all of this, one of the biggest jolts of juice to what Rothenberg was calling for was the rolling out and aggressive adoption by brands of the IAB Rising Stars, six new break-out ad units. They  unleash imagination again into what has been for so long an otherwise routine state of being. It's a start.



If you've seen the Rising Stars and played with them, even in demo mode, you can imagine their wonders. They were actually unveiled in February. Today, nearly 40 big brands have started implementing them -- Procter & Gamble, Starwood, Levi's, Universal Pictures; the list goes on and on. The Rising Star units -- Billboards, Filmstrips, Portraits and three others -- showcase the powerful interplay of media and creative, a collaboration critical to sustained success in digital marketing and media. Media cannot stand alone -- at least not for long. Creative cannot deliver in isolation, at least not in a way that sticks.

Those among us who create inspired, healthy, productive collaboration among brands, strategy, media, creative and technology will sometimes speak in what sounds like abstractions. Without concrete models, blueprints and tools, we sound almost like poets. But, as our media/creative executions have advanced from static creative to simple Flash and onward to an array of rich options -- showcasing the power of sequencing, user-synching, skillful animation design and designing for engagement -- we've kept our eyes focused forward, seeking something more. Yes, our state is pretty imbalanced right now, with commoditized, algorithmic planning and buying dominating our space. So, amid this, we should welcome that "something more" that gets big brands excited to play media plus creative to its hilt, and see what comes of it.

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