Media: Double Standards - Television and the internet: colleagues or rivals?

The chief executives of Thinkbox and the Internet Advertising Bureau talk about collaboration, creative peaks and what's likely to be new in 2007.

TESS ALPS - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THINKBOX

- How important is improved creativity to the growth of your medium?

TV continues to inspire monumental creative peaks, so luckily the benchmark is already high - at least in spots. But I think TV sponsorship and interactivity are still waiting for someone to do a John Webster on them.

- What poses the single greatest threat to your medium in 2007?

Awarditis, fashion-victimhood, short-termism - and the industry just taking this awesome medium for granted.

- Do you think all the industry trade bodies should join forces and persuade advertisers to spend more?

Isn't that what every media owner's sales force is doing, not to mention the IPA? Trade bodies should be as much about credible information and insight, impartial advice and inspiration as they are about stimulating demand.

- With convergence high on the agenda of the big media owners and attempts being made by agencies and advertisers to integrate online into media plans, is the idea of single media marketing bodies redundant?

The consumer experience and creative challenge of the moving image is so different from other formats - whatever new distribution technologies are added to broadcasting - and the developments in TV so dynamic, that the need for a TV-specific body can only grow. But never say never. When journalists stop writing about TV, when Campaign has merged with Marketing and Media Week and when hell freezes over, maybe we'll jack it in.

- As broadcasters increasingly offer more content through broadband, is it in the interests of the Internet Advertising Bureau and Thinkbox to collaborate on issues and one day merge into one single trade body?

I adore the internet, but it isn't itself a medium. It's a technology, analogous to printing or broadcasting. It has facilitated the creation of some new media formats, like search, but, for instance, search is a million miles away from e-mail marketing or blogs, so it's tough for the lovely people at the IAB to reconcile these divergent interests. TV, newspapers, radio can also be delivered by internet technology, so where do you stop? But collaboration is something we love to do, so why not? And why not with each trade body when a common interest crops up?

- If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

I'd like to kill the TV versus internet bollocks. Why not TV plus internet or TV delivered by internet?

- What does your medium offer advertisers which other media cannot offer?

A devastating combo of emotional engagement with long-term memory creation makes television the place where brands are born and nourished. This, plus scale and reach, make TV totally magic.

- What was the most exciting development in your medium last year?

The developments which will prove to be significant in the long term are those which now allow TV to be enjoyed on the move. And I'm confident that mobile and broadband TV will be incremental to domestic broadcast TV viewing, which is all that Barb can currently measure.

- What does your media diet consist of?

I read The Guardian often, mostly online, and the print Observer always, and four favourite blogs daily. I listen to mostly non-commercial radio in the car, but also the odd bit of Classic FM. I am nuts about quality drama such as Prime Suspect, quirky British comedy such as Green Wing and classy imports such as Curb Your Enthusiasm.

GUY PHILLIPSON - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, INTERNET ADVERTISING BUREAU

- How important is improved creativity to the growth of your medium?

There's huge scope for creativity online, and the best campaigns are highly engaging, motivating the consumer to interact with the ads. In the coming year and beyond we'll also have a number of new online creative formats to consider, such as video, IPTV and social media, as well as advertising on mobile phones.

- What poses the single greatest threat to your medium in 2007?

The skills shortage. Online has grown so fast that demand is outstripping the supply of skilled professionals available in agencies, clients and media owners. More and more agencies have graduate programmes and are teaming up with universities and colleges to nurture online's future workforce; however, there's still work to be done.

- Do you think all the industry trade bodies should join forces and persuade advertisers to spend more?

That's a great idea. Perhaps we could form our own vigilante group of advertising superheroes, joining forces to empower great creative and put a rocket under UK adspend ... I'm designing my costume as we speak.

- With convergence high on the agenda of the big media owners and attempts being made by agencies and advertisers to integrate online into media plans, is the idea of single media marketing bodies redundant?

At this stage it's more important to demonstrate how media work together through cross-media research, like the IAB's Brand Engagement Study. And online covers so many disciplines - search, e-commerce, rich media and e-mail marketing - so we have our work cut out.

- As broadcasters increasingly offer more content through broadband, is it in the interests of the Internet Advertising Bureau and Thinkbox to collaborate on issues and one day merge into one single trade body?

Yes, joint research is on our agenda and we'll be discussing some initiatives early this year. A single trade body? Ask me again in three years!

- If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

To agree and introduce a single media planning currency for the internet. We're on our way, and the online population survey with the National Readership Survey is an important step.

- What does your medium offer advertisers which other media cannot offer?

Online is the only medium which works from the point of consumer interest, via search, product reviews etc, right through to the point of purchase - and even beyond to product advocacy. Every interaction is measurable, too, so it's also the most accountable medium.

- What was the most exciting development in your medium last year?

The rise of user-generated content - YouTube, MySpace, Bebo and Second Life, to name but a few. The widespread acknowledgement of this new era of online behaviour and internet technology has done wonders for online, and made our job at the IAB even more interesting!

- What does your media diet consist of?

BBC Five Live, Metro, The Guardian/Guardian Unlimited, eBay, The Catherine Tate Show, Tittybangbang, Channel 4 Racing and Columbo.

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