I-RECALL: Perspective - Online must learn how to talk the talk

In a previous life at Channel 4, in an attempt to attract

advertisers, we set about persuading the market that TV was more than

just a branding medium and could deliver cost-effective response. Our

aim was to persuade sectors such as financial services, telecoms and

mail order to move money from print to TV.

'You'll get branding for free, today we want to talk to you about direct

response TV,' we used to say. It took us three years, considerable

investment in time and research and a partnership with BT but,

eventually, it proved successful.

In just two years, more than pounds 40 million of incremental revenue

was raised.

The point of this story is that the online medium has the exact opposite

to prove to TV. The language of one-to-one marketing has been used for

the past four years and, naturally, has appealed to direct


The problem is that brand marketers have remained largely


As one marketing director said recently: 'I'm not interested in selling

direct, but if someone could prove to me that online advertising can

help me build brand equity, then I would get interested. Emotionally,

I'm there, but I keep getting lost in the mumbo jumbo!'

He's right. This is exactly what the medium can be accused of and it's

time to adopt a language our friend can relate to. First, media owners

must start selling the medium. Ask any salesperson at Capital FM why

Coke should move money from TV to radio and they'll give you ten

reasons. They'll give a further ten reasons why Capital is a better

option than Heart, as well as ten case studies to support their

argument. Ask the same of an online media owner and they'll talk about

cookies, content, unique user sessions and download speeds.

The digital world could learn a lot from radio. It's no surprise that

radio's share of the advertising cake took off when the Radio

Advertising Bureau was set up to generically market the medium.

There was no focus on short-term revenue - it was a group of people who

talked benefits, research and innovation. Second, we need standardised

industry research and robust planning tools.

Finally, with the growth of rich media, new ad sizes, viral marketing

and interactive TV ads, we can at last start to excite the creatives and

talk about a depth of communication beyond 'click here'. Let's not lose

the focus on return on investment, but as a sector it's time to move the

game on. Brand exposure shouldn't really come for free.