I started my career 12 years ago as a programmer. I then transitioned into design, animation and interactive presentations, followed by a bit of video editing, then creative director. For the past seven years I have run an interactive marketing firm. I feel like my professional history, combined with my lingering passion for each page in that history, gives me a unique perspective.
If you read some of my previous posts there are a lot of advertising dollars planned for online in 2008. Many of these dollars are going into established and vetted online tactics like banner ads and search. My thoughts on that: Banner ads are experiencing record low CTRs, they're still great for branding, and some people are doing some really innovative stuff, but it's obvious that we need to do more to engage people. Search is great but with the socialverse, and it's ability to spread word of mouth, we face the reality of the recent Intelligence Group focus group byte: “If the news is that important, it will find me.” I'm not saying banner ads and search are dead, just like print and TV aren't dead, but we have to face the fact that media is evolving, and we must evolve with it.
Everything is in place: social networks are booming, people are creating some killer content that appeals to both broad and niche audiences, there are alternative format ad networks sprouting up and brands have indicated that they are going to start sending more dollars our way. So what's missing? Talent.
More traditional tactics like banner ads and media buys just don't require as much groundwork, as much knowledge in so many different areas. Sure it's a lot of work, no doubt, but there is a system in place. You plug in your demographic, the system spits out the right sites to advertise on, you negotiate, come up with the right creative for the audience, place the creative on an ad server or two and you're done, nice and neat.
The inherently disjointed nature of the internet requires that we have people on the marketing side who are capable of connecting the dots; locating the best content, the most relevant advertising and marketing opportunities, leveraging the best technology, understanding how to engage people in online communities, gathering metrics and putting it all together in a cohesive package that makes our clients :-).
Another thing that I think needs to happen is that we need to properly educate our clients. As new as this all is to us, it's like an alien language to many of them. This is exactly why they need us. It's our responsibility to educate them as to the potential of this space, our capabilities in terms of reporting, the difference between engagement, branding, word of mouth and advertising, and why it's all so important.
So who's in?