Seems Like Everyone's Got Game

Last Thursday I was due to moderate an event for the Boston Interactive Media Association (BIMA). Seems like all of New England (myself included) sat up night after night watching the American League Championship Series. According to The New York Times, The Red Sox 10 - 3 victory over the Yankees in Game 7 of the A.L.C.S on Wednesday produced a 19.4 Nielsen rating on Fox. This was the best ratings for a league championship series game since 1986. In Boston alone ratings hit 56.6. New York yielded a 30.7.

As I'm sure you know, games easily finished past midnight. I don't know about you, but I'm not used to staying up that late anymore. So of course I was nervous our event wouldn't yield the much-anticipated traffic. What a bummer it is to plan an event months in advance, get in synch with speakers, and obtain sponsors, then think a game would kill your numbers. This is truly something you can't plan for.

I'm happy to announce that about 35 people showed up for this focused interest group centered upon unlocking the power of Internet advertising. Albeit a broad topic, I was Joined by Harry Gold of Overdrive Interactive, Rick Bruener of DoubleClick, Kristen Vollmer of EMC, and Rob Griffen of Lycos.



Sleep deprived or not, folks came out and really interacted. Perhaps it was Bruener's presentation of two DoubleClick reports that got everyone's wheel spinning. Or maybe it was the combination of agency background, client-side experience, researcher, B2B, B2C, and publisher that sparked them.

So what was talked about? Well, let's get the "Duhhhh" factor out of the way first: No one thinks online advertising is dead.

Other findings included: Everyone seems to lean toward digital media or digital communications these days. This consists of list rentals, online advertising, organic search, paid search, and a variety of other efforts. People are tracking the heck out of their respective campaigns through a variety of tools. Testing is still key. Most cast a fairly wide net in the beginning of a campaign.

The term "Behavioral" has been one of the most misused. DoubleClick broke out online usage on a light, medium, and heavy basis. The panel agreed that this is indeed behavioral. But, Web publishers don't break out inventory this way.

The group represented both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets. Some products were priced on the high end with a long sales cycle whereas others were on the low end with fast turnarounds. Vollmer made me chuckle when she said, "Let's face it, no one is going to by a million dollar product because they thought a banner was pretty."

Cynicism aside, these folks have been around the block. They were not about to waste time debating the value of online advertising or digital marketing for that matter.

They nodded when Bruener went through view-through (a metric that enables advertisers to capture response over time to online advertising) studies. To them, view-throughs are not a stand-alone metric. Sometimes they used frequency caps. They all warned to watch just how long after an ad unit flighted, that view throughs were tracked. They were more concerned about conversions and getting credit for their respective online advertising metrics.

I was surprised at how many used sophisticated tracking techniques. Many used match back numbers and unique IDs. They spend copious amounts of time differentiating leads from Web sales, online advertising, and offline efforts. Some found ways to track online ad views to offline call to action.

Search of course, is a daily regimen for these folks. Strong brand or not, they are using it naturally via SEO efforts or via paid placement. Google and Overture still seemed to be the favorites. Rich media is a great solution for target audiences that don't want to leave a site they are engaged with or don't trust a third-party site with personal financial information.

I'll leave with DoubleClick's key takeaways of Internet audience dynamics for advertisers and agencies:
-Understand and target unique characteristics of audience according to build rates on individual sites and categories
-Sites with higher composition of medium and light users help build reach more economically
-Large, multi-function sites have different audience compositions and builds in different sections
-Develop scheduling best practices for impression delivery to meet campaign goals (i.e. dayparting)

So dear readers, not only are we die-hard baseball fanatics, we love what we do. We are experienced and good at what we do. We've got tips, tricks, warn stories, and warning signs. Got 'em too? Well post to the Spin board already!

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