IAB Annual Meeting: Brands Battle Back.

February 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

I have always been bothered by the fact that the Internet’s leading trade show is called “Ad Tech.” The name has implied from the start that the value proposition of our industry would be in the tools of our delivery, and it has led to a gum ball rally sort of race for one-to-one audience connections brought about by data and measurement. The result (no pun) today is a business heavily reliant on direct response, or performance-based advertising which is the only iteration of the advertising trade capable of holding-up the proposition.

The IAB’s annual meeting kicked-off yesterday with the theme, “Brands Battle Back”, and a call from IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg and Chairman, Wenda Harris Millard, to move beyond the immediacy of direct response and to invigorate the art, not just the science, of our business. Entering into our 15th year (roughly) as an industry, perhaps it is dawning on us, then, that our value proposition isn’t simply in the technology - any more than it is in the technology of other media. Audiences, after all, do not sink into their chairs at night to marvel at the fact that TV comes to them via a satellite in orbit over earth. Radio, still a miracle, is meaningful only if you like what’s on. Newspapers, delivered at enormous effort and expense (and also by satellite in cases), sell only if people are moved by the headlines.

The Internet is a marvel of content. Audiences respond to content. We need to sell the content. Internet content overwhelms the competition.

The IAB’s media partner for it’s annual meeting, Advertising Age, carries this story on the front page, today: “Guess which medium is as effective as ever: TV”. It sites evidence that TV advertising works and its effectiveness may be improving. The story reminds us that measurement and effectiveness as media value propositions are not unique and not high ground. If we want to challenge TVs dominant position on media plans today we must offer the chief reasons for why people would rather be online – and technology, measurement and effectiveness aren’t among them.

Time to battle back.

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