Online is no longer new media. That's right. Online is no longer relegated to the role of the red-headed step child. It is no longer among the flowers in the attic, hidden from the neighbors and respected members of the community.
Last month, the 2005 Media Comparison Study was released by Mediacenter. It indicated that in terms of reach among audiences, the Internet had a daily reach of 51 percent. That's 20 percent more than magazines, which the study showed only had a daily reach among general audiences of 42 percent.
According to some sources, online advertising makes up approximately 5.4 percent of all U.S. ad spending, and is growing.
Online advertising appears to have finally graduated to the adult table, no longer relegated to the card table and folding chairs, elbowed by unruly children that put pitted olives on the ends of their fingers.
There are people now working in advertising who have never known a media plan that didn't at least consider the Web as part of the media mix. Yes, making it into the mix is still a challenge when it comes to some advertisers, but discussion of online media is now part of the development of every healthy marketing strategy.
It's been refreshing over the last year to see the diminishment of the kind of milky-breathed adolescent diatribes against all other media. The kind of "online will bury TV" rhetoric that frequented the pages and newsletters of the trades, borne of a desire for recognition and a hedged sense of inadequacy has finally begun to fade. People are learning that no media, no matter how powerful, ever completely obliterates any other medium (except maybe the obelisk; we are no longer spreading news of military triumph by engraving it on a 30-meter stone tower).
Now we are turning attentions to serious and exciting conversations about the whole of marketing, about how each medium works with each other medium, and most exciting of all, about the consumer. This is what we should have been talking about all along rather than the jostling about for ad dollars through inane polemics about medium superiority.
There's no doubt that the industry will have to suffer through quite a few more retirement parties before online advertising is taken, at every level within an agency or a client, as seriously as other media. But the change is in motion. The picture we have of the advertising world through research and studies has finally caught up - to the satisfaction of those approving plans and signing checks - with the reality that has been for some time.
I'm glad to see it.
When I first started doing online advertising some 10 years ago, the newness and excitement alone was enough to stay engaged and distracted from thoughts of where online stood in relation to other media, or how it "measured up" to other components of a communications plan. That period was soon brought to an end and online took to the barricades to fight the gendarmes of the establishment media. But as with every revolution, once you become part of the political process, you have to lay down your arms.
Well, folks, this is it. My last Online Spin. It's been a terrific forum for these last three years and some months. I've enjoyed writing this column and have loved the energetic discussions that many of you readers have engaged me in.
I want to thank Tom Hespos and Masha Geller for asking me to get involved originally, and Ken Fadner, Tobi Elkin, and the rest of the MediaPost staff for allowing me the opportunity to stand on their roof and shout from it.