The dotcom 'correction' couldn't have come at a better time. With
such a large amount of inventory being made available, even the big boys
are beginning to loosen their online ad restrictions.
Not so long ago I got banner briefs, whereas today I get 'interactive
communication' briefs. 'Experiential' branding - did I just say
- is this week's buzzword. It sounds like trying to justify dismal
click-through rates to clients, but it's truer to what we do in the
We don't expect someone to stop reading a magazine article and call
Calvin Klein after seeing one of his ads. Clients are beginning to
understand that clearly communicated messages told in a compelling and
interesting way are proving very effective, even without a
click-through. They add another image in the back of the brain to
complement those of the brand in other media.
The best online ads deliver some sort of utility that can add value to
the online experience (such as banners that resize, print and
Others offer entertainment, fun, games or content (such as live news or
stock quotes). Promotions and freebies perform well. The simple truth is
a cliche. The best online ads use elements unique to the medium, such as
interactivity and precision targeting.
So what's happening out here? Creative is king.
Creatives are pressuring their media planners and buyers. Media are
pressuring site owners to start accepting better and richer online ad
units. They're asking them to begin to explore banner alternatives. This
way the responsibility - or should I say blame - is shared when the
client asks why so few consumers clicked on their ad.
If I were a client I'd have trouble understanding why I should advertise
online, restricted to a small format with no audio. Look at a TV ad with
no sound. Broadband, DSL and cable allow streaming and much larger file
sizes. Bigger file sizes tend to allow more robust executions, but this
doesn't necessarily mean better ads.
It's up to the creatives to do their magic. Tell better stories relevant
to the brand. Too much online work is based on creative 'legacy' -
offline work expected to work online. This will be the true test for
How many new-media shops are capable of taking briefs with no existing
creative work and creating a strong enough campaign that transcends all
Things should get interesting.