Jon Gibs, Vice President, Media Analytics
As with many of us who have spent our entire careers on the Internet, I have a bit of media establishment envy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet; I’ve spent the past 10 years analyzing the Web and continue to believe the future is in truly interactive media. Sentiment aside, for the most part Internet professionals have spent much of our careers at the proverbial kids’ table. For far too long the Internet has been relegated to the “experimental” or “emerging media” categories.
Recent developments indicate the Internet is being taken more seriously. Case in point: NBC and Fox joining forces to create Hulu, if for no other reason than to solidify their participation in the increasingly important and transformative online video market. Google reaping ad-driven revenues that were once reserved only for the wilder fantasies of those working in print classifieds. Apple reshaping the entire music industry through innovation of the playback device, distribution and consumer experience. And the latest example of Facebook, transforming the way people congregate, communicate and navigate the Web today.
If the Internet has truly “arrived” and is being taken seriously, why have we not yet seen significant brand advertising dollars follow? Maybe it’s because we’re in the midst of one of the worst global recessions in history. Perhaps it’s because online creative units tend to replicate the print experience instead of redefining the consumer experience. Most likely is that the online ad industry has decided to remain independent—we speak our own, at times arcane, language; we use our own effectiveness measures reinforcing the belief that the Internet is a direct response media; and, we have yet to provide easy methods to help advertisers understand the role of the Internet in the entire marketing mix. In effect, we have made our lives, and potential livelihoods, very difficult.
The good news is there is hope. As a medium the Internet is quite the contender (and brand dollars are beginning to shift its way). To continue growing, the online ad world must take a hard look at itself as part of a broader, media industry-wide context and, as one prominent TV client put to me, “grow up.” The Internet does not exist in a vacuum and we’ve moved past the days when it is practical to operate like it does. Leading marketers look at media from a holistic perspective to reach today’s increasingly connected consumers. So too must anyone participating in the ad industry.