ARF Previews Online Advertising Playbook

The Advertising Research Foundation previewed what it hopes will be the most definitive knowledge resource for online advertising, The Online Advertising Playbook, at a panel at ad:tech on Monday.

Taddy Hall, ARF chief strategy officer, said the book will provide a core body of knowledge for the industry--which can then be used in the process of making basic decisions and ultimately increase marketers' budgets for Internet spending, now standing at about 5 percent to 7 percent.

Intended for brand managers and small- to medium-sized agencies, the book's nine chapters seek to make its readers "head coaches," better able to prepare and adjust their online marketing game plan. It is scheduled for a Spring 2007 release by publisher John Wiley & Sons.

Panelists included Giovanni Fabris, vice president and international media director for McDonald's; Clark Kokich, worldwide president of Avenue A/Razorfish; Tom Lynch, vice president of marketing integration for ING; and Eileen Naughton, Google's regional director of sales and marketing on the East Coast.



The four panelists did their best to break down the 320-page book into a quick hour of thumbnails, but it was more of a free-form discussion about what isn't working as much as what is.

Fabris said the Internet is not yet being used to its fullest potential in the media mix, and that "while the Internet is already a part of our customers' lives, it is not part of our [corporate] lives." He said that for a company to use the Internet effectively, it needs to capitalize upon the four separate ways of communicating: as reference tool for information about a company; as a tool to create communities; to provide marketing messages and information about food and promotional initiatives; and for contextual messages. The first two, Fabris pointed out, are unique to Internet advertising, and the second offers the greatest opportunity.

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Lynch said his goal--which he recognized is unlikely to become reality--is for ING to begin to see the Internet as its leading medium; not necessarily where the most money is spent, but where the audience is spending the majority of its time. Moreover, he said, it forces companies to think about engaging consumers in all segments--and thus instills discipline.

Kokich said the Internet must be seen as a channel, not an advertising medium, and that marketers must look at the full range of potential touchpoints it offers. It takes all the traditional linear models and adds three levels: user experience, testing, and analytics.

Naughton said Google's plans were to take its architecture and extend it to other platforms: print, video, and consumer targeting.

Fabris pointed out the intriguing capacity of the Internet to replicate all of the traditional media in a virtual space, while Lynch pointed out the lingering frustration that "nobody every got fired for running network TV ads over the Internet"--although he noted that this could change any day.

The biggest complaint about what needs to change is the use of impressions as common currency--videos, banners, a text message; it all counts as an impression. When the value of an impression can be broken out more clearly, Lynch suggested, the Internet channel will take off as an advertising venue.

Naughton said the creative needs to be more consistently compelling in the digital environment.

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