Dispatches from MediaPost: Off to a Good Start

If you ask me, 2002 is off to a good start as far as the online advertising industry is concerned. For one, the Interactive Advertising Bureau finally came through on a promise they made in mid-1997 and put some measurement and auditing guidelines in place for us all to follow. The guidelines deal with issues that have long plagued the online ad industry: measuring ad impressions, clicks, page impressions, and visitors and verifying ad delivery. Granted, the industry’s response to these has so far been very mixed, but at least things are moving in the right direction: consensus.

More importantly, for everyone who wishes traditional advertisers would pay more attention to the Internet as an ad medium, January brought some very good tidings. The best piece of news, at least in my opinion, was the mid-month Doritos announcement—the one about Frito-Lay forgoing its usual Super Bowl ads and tripling its online investment for Doritos this year in “an effort to reach teens where they live on a daily basis.”

Atmosphere, the digital arm of Frito-Lay’s New York ad agency BBDO Worldwide, created a marketing plan that commits 9 percent of Doritos’ overall marketing budget to online efforts, which include a revamped website to accommodate promotion of Doritos’ offline efforts, quarterly partnerships with popular teen websites, and a viral-marketing effort that includes an unbranded “underground” website.

Not to make this into a puff piece for online advertising, but if an advertiser like Doritos is taking money away from the Super Bowl and channeling it towards the Internet, it’s proof that online ads work (at least when it comes to reaching 12-to-24-year-olds).

Another piece of good news to befall us last month was the Online Publishers Association (OPA) study of media consumption habits of U.S. consumers. They found that at-work Internet users now spend more time on the web (34 percent of total media minutes) on a typical weekday than they spend watching TV (30 percent) or listening to the radio (26 percent), which means that the Internet completely dominates daytime media use in the same way that television dominates evenings. OPA also found that study participants cited online advertising as the number one form of advertising that helps them decide what to buy.

If that’s not encouraging enough, the web seems to be learning from its mistakes. According to a new study from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Chicago-based e-tailing group, inc., marketers are using time-tested direct marketing techniques on the web to improve customer service and retention.

H. Robert Wientzen, president and CEO of the DMA, said that during the recent holiday season, marketers did “an impressive job of delivering excellent customer service and addressing factors that disappointed some consumers during the 2000 holiday season.”

I’m probably going out on a limb here, but I think this is an indication of good things to come in 2002. If consumers are spending more and more time online, online retailers are beginning to figure out how to make their customers happy, and Doritos is forsaking the Super Bowl for the web, who knows what’ll happen next?

Masha Geller is Editor-in-Chief of MediaPost. She may be reached at

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