CAMPAIGN-I: Perspective - Creatives must be the net's pioneers

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

offline world.

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.