The World: Insider's view - US

Interactive is still a nascent discipline, but it is expanding quickly thanks to creatives who know that big ideas count whatever the medium, Dominic Goldman writes.

Interactive by its very nature is evolving rapidly. Once the "bastard child" of the communications business, interactive has now earned its rightful place alongside more traditional media.

More US consumers are online, bandwidths are bigger and clients are spending more money.

So, my peers and I are all rather busy these days. We're all scrambling to create various microsites, websites, viral sites and online films, among other things.

But let's not overlook the humble, and underrated, banner ad.

"Banner" is such a dirty little word. It sounds tacky and insignificant. I prefer the term "interactive ad". It makes me feel better about myself, and makes me sound more important in an ad agency.

After all, nobody wants to be labelled the "Banner monkey".

Many people hate banner ads that intrude on their web surfing. I agree with them. But just like the commercials on TV, radio and in magazines, most advertising is irritating. I like creating interactive ads. It's kind of like doing print - you can't hide behind a slick execution; it needs an idea.While websites are places that people have chosen to visit, ads have only a few seconds to capture their attention and hold it in an interesting, relevant way.

US agencies have been getting in on the digital side of things for a while now, which is a good thing. What if TV or print ads were only made by directors and photographers? They'd look really cool, but would they have a compelling idea behind the gloss?

Here in San Francisco, I'm fortunate enough to work in one creative department tasked with delivering ideas that might have to work for outdoor, TV, guerrilla or interactive campaigns. I know a lot of places claim not to have walls, but seriously, there are no silos here. And it's working. Clients see how the umbrella idea is brought to life in each medium, and it feels integrated.

I moved from a web design shop back in the dotcom days to an ad agency. It had no experience with the web, but, just like consumers, it didn't care if something whizzed across the screen with some crazy new Flash technique. Over time it drummed into me the importance of a big idea, whatever the medium.

I now have fun working across all channels. Why should interactive be treated as a separate entity? It would be like having a separate agency for making radio or print.

As long as you employ people in your team who have some understanding of that discipline, the collective should be able to solve problems in all channels.

Obviously, interactive is still in its infancy compared with the advertising industry's other, more established disciplines. But, in time, ideas will win the day. That will be the only way to cut through all the digital clutter.

- Dominic Goldman is the creative director at Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco.

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