Come this Thursday, I'll give thanks for many things having nothing to do with the business we're all in. And I'll give thanks that I don't have my usual column deadline (and many of you will sing praises). But, as pertains to this digital marketing world, I'll be most grateful for the following and more.
There's no longer any
debate about the sustainability of the Web as a medium.
I used to really get after analysts and so called experts who would assert that the Web is only for direct marketing and that it should not be considered media through which marketers can build longer-term relationships with users. Remember the whole branding versus direct response debate? It continued into this year. But, no longer. I think we can all thank the IAB for helping to end this debate. Their Cross Media Optimization Study, combined with the campaign that dubbed Interactive as "The Active Ingredient" in a media buy has unquestionably made a difference.
It takes a long time for people's eyes to open to broader ideas. I used to find myself screaming at those who would say that the Web was just another DM tool. Anyone in the creative end of our business had to be even more frustrated.
"Any time people have to leave their comfort zones for creative ideas, they can be reluctant," said Andy Cleff, who runs Ampersand Design in Doylestown, PA. Ampersand does a ton of work for BMW of North America and others. "Those who said that the Web could not elicit an emotional response from consumers had never designed a landing page, and maybe they hadn't seen one in Flash. But, nobody is saying that anymore, said Cleff."
Want tangible proof that it's media and not just marketing? According to a recent poll conducted by the Online Publishers Association, third-quarter ad revenue for Web publishers grew an average of 46 percent over the year-ago period. More and more people are spending an increasing amount of time online. Sure, it's media - but it's far more than that, and this is the part that confused people before. The Web has changed the way we do so many things.
Think about it - where do you get your news? Where will you do your Christmas shopping? Will you send more emails today than make phone calls? I don't know anyone for whom these don't point to the Web, except my parents. And that brings us to the next thing to be thankful for.
The Pig in the Python is upon us, and will only grow this medium for all of us.
Are you familiar with the Pig in the Python theory? The idea is that kids entering college today will never settle for dial up Internet access when they leave school. And, for the first time, almost every college in the country has some sort of high-speed hookup. Many are even wireless throughout. With so much music being downloaded, and with no less a source than Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) President Jack Valenti claiming that the movie industry will be making first run features available on the Web in just a few years, this Pig is growing and will continue to grow.
Valenti's announcement was a significant one. The Motion Picture Industry has had recent problems with films being bootlegged onto the Web from agencies that handled distribution to critics. No dummy, Valenti is embracing the technology that the music industry had no idea how to embrace. This will be one to watch, and I hope to be giving thanks in 2006 for being able to stream movies at home instead of seeing them in a theatre.
There's plenty more to be thankful for in our industry these days. Most of all, we're in a growth period that seems to be sustainable. And this is all a lot more fun than it was even a year ago. Better still, I think most of you still reading this would agree that the best is yet to come for interactive. So, lift a glass. And enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone.