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Oct 28, 2003

Six Online Advertising Media Directors Speak Out: What's Working, Worries, & Pet Peeves

SUMMARY: What's working in online ads these days? Surprisingly, the six media directors we asked say that email newsletter ads are making a come-back. Plus expect rich media to get even bigger, and behavior- targeting is definitely flavor-of-the-month.
What are the hot buttons in the online advertising space today? We chatted with six online media directors who will be attending (or speaking at) next week's AD:TECH show in New York. Here's what they told us…

-> The good news

At last Internet advertising is seen as a crucial component of the marketing mix, both for branding and direct response campaigns.

"The best online marketers are establishing a notable competitive advantage, while those that have been slower to embrace the medium are working to catch up," Jeff Lanctot, VP Media, Avenue A says. "New prospects are rarely asking 'should I advertise online?', but
rather 'How should I advertise online?' This is very exciting."

"Now, we don't have to sell clients on the fact that they need online. Now we just have to sell them on how and how much. They're using it, but they're underutilizing it," Heller says.

Rich media ads in particular are hot. Dane Hulquist, Interactive Account Director, MRM San Francisco, says. "Leveraging the growth of broadband penetration, for both enhanced targeting as well as creative impact, is a high priority for us these days," he says.

-> Behavior targeting is here to stay

Though many (perhaps most) publishers can't yet offer behavior targeting, the media buyers we spoke to agreed that it will continue to grow.

"From a media buyer's perspective to publishers, figure out how to offer marketers a more robust way to target," says Jason Heller, CEO of Mass Transit.

"Online is a medium that has sub-sectors and you have to hit each one, so most clients have to have some component of search, some acquisition element, and slowly but surely some part of your media plan is going to include behavioral targeting," he says.

Jason DeLuca CEO Argonaut Media agrees. "Serving ads based on behavior, that's where things are going now," he says.

DeLuca believes that ability will happen more and more through downloads to users' desktops.

-> Email (especially ads in newsletters) is still working

"Bid-for-clicks on search engines, pop-ups are hit and miss," Michael Taylor Alvarez VP Advertising Alpine Media Group has found. "Email by far has outdone all of those."

Heller says, "Sponsoring a newsletter means you're anticipated, and you get past the spam barriers." However, your ads must be very targeted. "Part of the degradation of email offers is a lack of contextuality. It's still viable but it needs to be targeted and it needs to be relevant."

DeLuca, too, believes that newsletter ads are one of the most effective media buys, along with pop-up ads.

But, Trey Goede, CEO warns what with "California law going into affect, potential Do Not Email list, ISP blocking, blocking software, etc., it is surely going to trim the number of people sending email in the very near future. Prices will go up, as only TRULY sourced names are going to be allowed for this type of marketing."

-> Four worries

DeLuca: Don't go overboard on buying CPC pop-ups. "People are paying a dollar or more per click, but it has to be targeted, because only through targeting will you get your best response. It costs you more, but I don't think that's going anywhere."

Heller: "Everyone is starting to measure a lot more than what they measured in the past, but I don't think they're looking at all the right metrics. There must be some acquiescence on the part of the marketer and agency on what will determine the success of the campaign. That doesn't seem to be happening on the mass scale that it should."

Alvarez: "People in places like the Ukraine, like Russia are signing up as affiliates, using fraudulent credit cards to take up the offer, and then putting in the transactions and hoping that nobody catches the fact that this is a fraudulent card before the check is cut for the affiliate."

Hulquist: "We’ve been doing more and more with streaming video advertising. The challenge is executing efficiently due to the lack of specification standards and the relatively high production costs."

He adds, "Finding ways to scale paid search activity is another important issue for us, given its consistent effectiveness in response efficiency. Identifying tactics that can help overcome the inherent manpower and inventory limitations that this buy-type poses is a key to success for larger online advertisers."

-> Pet peeves

DeLuca: Sales reps who just want to talk about how great their site is.

"Sales reps have changed a lot in the last couple of years," he says. "There's a lot less aggressive idiots and a lot more intelligent, patient people. But people who are very pushy don't understand what my objectives are and what I want to achieve."

Heller: "You look at all these revelations that come out about tracking. But it's a given that you should be tracking. If I ever read another article about that, I'm going to complain to the person who wrote it."

But the myth persists that tracking can't live up to its hype. In fact, says Heller, that's probably the number-one mistake he sees his clients make: not budgeting enough online dollars because they say the tracking just isn't there. The tracking is there, he says, but the tools aren't being used effectively.

Goede: The pace of the industry. "I wish that there was one trend, product, technology, delivery, etc., that would stay around for more than a few months before being outdated. I'm very pro-change, but this business does so faster than any I have ever been involved with...."

We think everyone can agree with him.

Useful links related to this story:

MarketingSherpa article, "Is Behavior Targeting the Next Big Online Ad Trend?"


Alpine Media Group:


MRM Gould/MRM Partners Worldwide:

Mass Transit:

Argonaut Media:

Avenue A:
See Also:

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