Let's Not Mess This Up!

If you read the analysts' predictions, this is going to be a big year for online advertising. The numbers vary, but the overall sentiment is the same. Of course, we've been through this before, so I felt it might be prudent to point out some of the fundamental issues that we're going to need to address if we're to be successful in this crucial period of continued growth.

In short, these are things to pay attention to so we won't mess this up.

1. Customer Service is key. There are going to be lots of dollars coming online to run lots of campaigns from lots of advertisers, some of which will be old and some of which will be new. The service level that these advertisers receive will be crucial to their success as well as their experience with the medium. If they have a negative experience and their performance suffers, then they may never utilize online to the extent it can be utilized. If they have a positive experience, this will go a long way toward encouraging them to return and spend additional ad dollars. The account managers and sales managers who've been in the space for a number of years can be trusted to understand this and represent the industry well, but the problem lies in the fact that most of the vendors are understaffed and may not be set up to handle this influx of dollars, which leads us to the second fundamental element to consider...



2. Recruitment, recruitment, recruitment. We have to begin recruiting more entry-level people into our industry. In the late '90s we saw many people coming into our industry looking for jobs, but when the bubble burst, so did our "cool factor.". Now that business is booming again, the demand has increased, but the supply hasn't. Students graduating in 2006 and 2007 need to know that our industry is stable, profitable, and provides an exciting career path for them beyond the next three to five years. Once we've increased their interest in our industry, we can shift our attention towards the third element I want to point out...

3. Training, training, training. If we have our future employees considering us once again, we need to be sure to train them properly from day one. Our industry has matured--and now we need to act like it has. Our growth is dependent on the strength of the individuals who interact with the outside world. If they're trained in our business and they're provided with a clear career path, they'll succeed and our business will continue to grow. They need to represent a mature, relatively well-structured industry so that large advertisers and large corporations feel comfortable doing business with us. Each of your companies needs to make this investment and needs to pay attention to the future, rather than just reacting to the here and now.

The fourth and final element that I would put out for your consideration may seem out of place, but its one that I think is crucial to our sustained growth...

4. Territorialism bad, imperialism good. Each of us must recognize that we are not going to be the only experts in our field. I've spoken in the past about integration, and integration depends on education. If we're territorial about our business and if we perpetuate the "black box" theory, then no one will want to work with us.

If we foster an environment of sharing and education and recognize that the more people know and understand our business, the more we can lead them into the future of integrated media, then our success will continue. All media will one day be "online," and all media people will have at least a basic understanding of online, but those of you focused on the medium will be tasked to lead and innovate. Your place will be cemented in the industry, and your role will be fun and exciting. By virtue of sharing your knowledge, your sphere of influence will extend and your role will increase; hence the reference to imperialism.

I'm sure there are more elements to consider when evaluating how our business will continue to grow, and I am curious what else you think we need to pay attention to. Speak up and let us know; the Spin Board is your best place to share with everyone else.

What do you think?

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