Not Dead Yet

If you are familiar at all with "Monty Python" movies, or know someone who is--and that person incessantly repeats their favorite quotes in their worst British accent--you've heard the line, "I'm not dead yet."

Attending OMMA Video and OMMA Publish earlier this week, there was a great deal of discussion focused on which old or existing technologies, methods and media platforms aren't quite dead yet--to borrow from "Monty Python."

Brian Wieser, SVP of MAGNA Global, began his keynote presentation at OMMA Publish by pointing out that traditional media never died, as had been predicted with the onset of the digital revolution. Brand advertisers are still focused on reach and frequency, and traditional media is still an effective channel for that.

To expand on that theme, we heard other panelists suggest that brand advertising on the Web isn't dead, either. When Internet advertising came onto the scene, it offered the holy grail (in keeping with the "Monty Python" theme) of one-to-one, measurable targeted advertising. It could redefine advertising and marketing as we know it, and be the death of the old media-based brand advertising model focused on reach and frequency.



While the technological advantages offered through online advertising are a marketer's dream, the focus for most big brand advertisers is still branding, not direct response. As Jarvis Coffin, CEO of Burst Media, points out, the biggest irony is that Internet advertising will restore brand advertising--not destroy it. (Why? Need a clearer explanation?) Coffin asserts that brand advertising should still be viewed as performance advertising, and is the "most efficient form of large advertisers' budgets."

Jonathan Miller, founding partner of investment firm Velocity Interactive Group, and AOL's chairman-CEO from 2002-06, took a decidedly different stance in regard to video advertising. It would have been interesting to put Miller and Coffin on the same panel and have them defend their contrasting viewpoints--or battle it out in a medieval swordfight.

Also among the "not dead": ad networks. As large publishers like ESPN and others have decided to sever ties with ad networks, some have wondered whether that was an ominous sign of their demise as publishers gain the upper hand and control their own inventory.

In two separate panels devoted to different aspects of the ad network/publisher relationship, there was plenty of healthy debate surrounding the validity of ad networks.

Ed Montes, EVP and managing director of Havas Digital, argues that ad networks are not commoditizing online advertising as panel moderator Wenda Harris Millard, Co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, asserted at a recent conference. Although it is bought and sold in large quantities, Montes says its true value can be found in targeting at the granular level, which creates premium pricing opportunities and is not a bulk commodity like pork bellies.

Following the debate, Millard was willing to concede that ad networks had value in the marketplace and were somewhere between a swine (pork bellies) and a pearl, although she had not coined a term for that yet. A swirl, perhaps?

Pre-roll Video Advertising is also still among the land of the living, despite the desire by some in the industry to find a suitable, less invasive replacement to monetize video. As the industry continues to innovate, finding new and better ways to generate advertising revenue around the fast-growing inventory of online video content, pre-roll is still king despite its negative reputation. The bottom line is that it generates the majority of the ad revenue in this space and is relatively easy to sell because marketers can repurpose existing content they created for television.

As it turns out, being un-dead isn't such a bad thing, especially when you work for an ad network like I do. Just remember: "Always look on the bright side of life."

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