New Dogs - Old Tricks?

Online advertising. Interactive advertising. Internet advertising. Digital advertising.

What ever happened to “plain old” advertising? We’re more than halfway done with 2002 and it still looks a lot like 1996. Let me take a moment to make some comparisons…

In 1996 the most effective form of online advertising was “keywords”.
In 2002 the most effective form of online advertising is “search results”.

In 1996 the big players were AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and Netscape.
In 2002 the big players are AOL (owns Netscape), Yahoo, and MSN.

In 1996 impressions were the primary currency for online media planners.
In 2002 impressions are still (unfortunately) the primary currency for planners.

In 1996 there were no standards and there were more than 4000 ad sizes in use.
In 2002, according to Jupiter, there are more than 4000 ad sizes in use online.

In 1996 online advertising was separated from the more traditional forms of media in campaign development.
In 2002 online is still treated as something relegated to “after the upfront” or as a supplemental line item in a traditional planning environment.



Online advertising is plagued by its own successes and haunted by our own failures. We built this industry on new terminology and non-traditional metrics, and we will be paying the price for this error for a long while unless we rectify the situation now.

We hired many, many people into our industry that had no traditional advertising experience and as a result many of the media planners and sales folks cannot speak the same language as the traditional advertisers and agencies.

These two factors will continue to be detrimental to our growth unless we as an industry achieve a new level of focus and education. We spend most of our time trying to teach traditional advertisers why the Internet is so useful and effective, but we’re teaching them in a different language with no respect for what they do.

My idea is this: all agencies and publishers should build traditional media planning into their training programs. Your local organizations should educate the industry on what our peers do. All online media planners and buyers should be able to use a traditional SMRB book or do runs in IMS. All online sales reps should be able to understand the definitions of a reach, frequency, share of voice, GRP’s and how dayparts are sold.

If you want to teach the old dog new tricks, shouldn’t the new dog be able to do the old ones, too? If you’re going to ask a traditional media planner to understand the online space, shouldn’t they be able to speak to them in their own language? All relationships, whether they be personal or business, are based on a mutual respect, and I feel that our industry has tried to grow by forcing others to respect us when in fact a good portion of the people in our own industry do not respect the old ways of doing business.

If online advertising professionals all understood traditional advertising, and vice versa, we could truly refer to ourselves as Advertising without the breakout of online vs. traditional. Why purposefully separate ourselves from the party? Advertising is advertising, no matter what form of media it takes place within. Many agencies will have specialties, but at the end of the day it is all Advertising. Case in point:

ad·ver·tis·ing -- n. The activity of attracting public attention to a product or business, as by paid announcements in the print, broadcast, or electronic media.

Need I say more?

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