Improving Internet Advertising

Emily Fitzloff   05/08/2001

Vice chairman of the IAB offers 10 steps for lifting the industry out of its slump.

While attendees at this year's @d:Tech conference in Los Angeles could have been wandering the rather noticeably barren halls looking for someone or something on which to lay the blame for the online advertising industry's recent struggles, at least one keynote speaker wasn't scapegoating.

“In short ... we all messed up," acknowledged a humble Richy Glassberg, vice chairman of the Interactive Advertising Bureau and CEO of Phase2Media.

That said, Glassberg didn't waste too much time bemoaning missteps of the past—including a lack of creativity from the agencies and a failure to formulate comprehensive metrics. Instead, he offered up “Ten Ways to Make the Internet a Better Medium for Marketers." Here's what he suggests:

  1. Develop more effective media plans—Effective media planning includes looking beyond the portals for media buys, better training for staff, and evaluating the ROI of all your media.
  2. Demand better creative—When was the last time an Internet ad made you cry, laugh, want the product, or answer your question? Why is it that the top creatives at agencies don't go anywhere near online advertising? Ensure that all online creative supports and enhances offline, and work with publishers to execute creative that complements site content.
  3. Support the IAB's guidelines for new interactive marketing units—Follow the lead of pioneering campaigns, including: Budweidser on CBSMarketWatch.com, Lexus on Salon.com, Coca-Cola on Snowball.com, and IBM on CNET News.com.
  4. Develop an integrated partnership—Brand recall exponentially increases the more a sponsor's message appears throughout a website. Go beyond the banner to integrate your client's brand with a top site and look to the sites that can create online and offline synergies.
  5. Use rich media—Streaming-media ads are nearly five times more effective in creating recall for a given ad than simple Web banners. Established technologies including FLASH, BlueStreak, Enliven, and Unicast Superstitials should be deployed with greater frequency. And newer technologies including Eyeblaster, adReady adPointer, and PointRoll should be explored.
  6. Use permission-based email—Email is faster, cheaper, allows for greater targeting, and has higher response rates than offline direct mail or online banner advertising. Rich media applications including FLASH and interactive games have great email potential.
  7. Make audience measurements meaningful for advertisers—How have we gotten this far when third-party traffic measurement companies don't report metrics that are useful to advertisers? For the third-party measurement firms to provide significant and useful data, they must integrate across the board with ad servers, branding studies, and logfiles. They need to adapt their panel-based measurements to incorporate full demographic data that is complementary to audited server-based traffic figures.
  8. Support a mandatory disclosure logfile audit project—We're unable to get reliable metrics from panel-based surveys or unaudited, nonstandardized logfiles. Support (if you're an advertiser) or participate in (if you're a publisher) an industry-wide logfile audit project. These audits should be published to provide agencies and clients with a comprehensive, useful tool for online media buying and planning.
  9. Sell with dayparts—Rather than targeting purely by audience and demographic, daypart targeting, which is used in the television industry, provides huge opportunities. It is more efficient for advertisers and results in greater revenues for sites. And it makes perfect sense: Internet usage and commerce peak at specific times of the day.
  10. Join an industry association—Interactive media companies should join and support the Interactive Advertising Bureau and agencies should take part in the AAAA's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Interactive Committee to better support and promote the medium.
Emily Fitzloff is an associate editor for Business2.0 Online.