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10/29/2008 The Online Advertising Opportunity

So newspaper and offline advertising is going to contract and online marketing growth will expand, but more slowly. That doesn’t mean that online and digital folk should start patting themselves on the back and gloat that the tide has finally turned. The onus is still on us to up our creativity without losing our focus on dialogue and results.

Note that there are tons of sites that focus on showing off good Web sites. There are lots of media sites and pubs showing off print and TV ads. But I know of only one quality site dedicated to showing off good online advertising, Banner Blog. True, PointRoll and EyeBlaster do their best to highlight online ads, but since they’re selling, they feel somewhat biased.


What does that tell you? Maybe no one’s that interested in it, or the creative work isn’t worth showing off.

There are some great online ads out there, but not enough. The chance to tell stories, to engage in dialogue and interactivity, and to convert through that little space is where the opportunity lies today. But somehow we end up with animated billboards or worse.

We need to explore richer experiences within the banner or its expandable size. I’d like to see more sequential advertising, something I almost never see. I mean, even the old Burma Shave billboard example would be interesting to see online. Instead we’ve focused on ad network technologies such as retargeting to show us the same ad over and over and over again. As digital creatives, we need to add value to that technology, or else we’ll blow the opportunity at hand.

Maybe because I didn’t have a lot of online advertising opportunities years ago, I took each opportunity to create something unique in the banners I did work on. From dynamically sending up-to-the-minute weather reports to banners in 2004 to broadcasting live radio through them in 2007, each banner was opportunity to provide unique content, not just messaging.

It’s why my first Stowe banner was able to beat Web sites and microsites in the travel category of the MITX awards last year.

Just because online ads are small and weird sizes doesn’t mean we have the excuse to be boring. We have the technology to do whatever we want.

We have the next year of opportunity to raise our game.


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