It looks like the traditional advertisers have, indeed, seen the Internet, and they are ready to get involved.
Certainly this spending is not at the levels that will bring us back to the days of the freakish spending enthusiasm of twenty-somethings who knew as much about advertising as they had learned watching Darren’s work scenes on reruns of “Bewitched.” But they are entering the space. Still with caution, but definitely with interest.
What this means, however, is that there are a lot of you who will be dealing with clients in the coming months who are engaging the Internet as an advertising vehicle for the first time. This means tapping your memories of times past and resuscitating the teacher you had to be then.
It may be hard for some of you to believe, but there are still a lot of advertisers out there who still don't know much, if anything at all, about online media.
Yep, it's true.
They ask questions that those of you who have been doing online media planning, buying, and selling for the last few years thought you'd heard the last of back in 2000 when the dot-coms started going belly-up and all the junior brand managers hired away from Clorox and P&G started skulking about looking for their old jobs back.
("Applicants, enter through the front door! Supplicants, enter through the air ducts.")
Some of the experiences I've begun having with clients again remind me of the days of old, when 3rd party ad serving for agencies was bleeding edge, Unicast only worked in demos, and DoubleClick was thought of more as a media company.
"Do you mean to tell me, I can buy a… what did he call it, again?… a keyword and my advertisement will show up on the site? Does that mean I'll also show up higher in the search results?"
"Yes to your first question; not exactly is the answer to your second question," I begin to explain. And so a lesson about advertising on search engines ensues.
Of course, the reason for the big re-education efforts is actually a positive one. What it means is that NEW advertisers are coming into the online advertising space. And most all of them are traditional advertisers; established brands; consumer packaged goods clients. And they want to know about the Internet.
The ones we digital young Turks called dinosaurs, Luddites, grumpy old men, and flat-earthers. They are now coming to the medium with the kind of interest many of us thought they should have had 5 years ago.
But you have to have gone somewhere if you want to know where you've been. And traditional advertisers, never ones to risk anything of their own if they can help it, have sat back for the last few years and have waited out the "research and development" phase of the online advertising industry. Much in the way early man watched what other animals in the forests or on the plains ate to determine whether or not they should, so, too, did the traditional advertisers.
- "Yeah, that fruit looks
good. Real bright. Shiny. Man, I bet it tastes good. Let me see. "
- "No, Gwar! Wait! That spider monkey is going to take a bite."
- "He looks like he's enjoying it…."
- "Eeeeek! Eeeeek! Eeeeeek! Eee…."
- "Oh, never mind."
- "On to the next tree!"
The Internet advertising jungle floor is littered with corpses of bad media deals, bad advertising, bad business models, and bad sites. While kids wearing "I'm with Stupid" T-shirts skateboarded to work and spent billions of dollars of other peoples' money, the big advertisers sat back to see if what they were up to was going to yield an edible and sustinet harvest.
Let Cocktailweinies.com spend $50 million on sponsoring the Super Bowl and dropping cans of Vienna sausages out of helicopters for a Thanksgiving promotion ("As God as my witness, I thought Turkeys could fly," says Mr. Carlson).
So now it is up to those of us who have decided to stick it out in this industry to once again make the rounds and educate clients or potential clients about online advertising. It should be easier this time.
After all, now that we are standing upright it is so much easier to look them in the eye this time and tell them what you actually know.