local media insider

The need for a creative revolution - and how to start one in your company

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We almost didn't promote one of this week's reports, "The best versus the rest," taken from a presentation at the Borrell 2012 Local Online Advertising Conference, because it restated some oof what appears to be "the obvious."

However, I have gotten a number of phone calls in the last few weeks from mid-level execs at small and large companies, concerned that very top people in the company are still on the fence about shifting resources to digital as significantly or quickly as they feel is required to keep up. 

So we are promoting the report this week on what key initiatives five companies who lead in market share think are most important.  A key element in all five "best" companies is that digital leadership at the very top levels is committed, evangelical and backing that commitment with attention and resources. 

Another element that stood out was a real interest in driving results for advertisers, including heavy use of premium ad units. This may seem paradoxical because rich media is also the secret to getting back in the game of selling high value brand advertising.

At  NAA's 2012 MediaXchange, Randall Rothenberg, key note speaker and president of the IAB gave a broader viewpoint, and, in fact, an impassioned plea for media to embrace the power of the larger and more interactive Rising Star ads, endorsed by the IAB standards committee.

“There is nothing that is decreed by God that shapes what web sites look like. It was all created by men and women - some with no familiarity with the ad business. If it was made by human beings, it can be remade by human beings," he said.

In 2011, the IAB selected and endorsed six larger units created by a variety of companies, which have now been standardized for the industry - and a secondary market of vendors has arisen to make them simpler to deploy. 50% of the largest brand advertisers now have required agencies to adopt more of the Rising Star ads, which achieve twice as much user time as regular ads.

Rothenberg's argument to the media industry goes like this: By constructing sites with tiny digital ads linked to static web sites, media as an industry designed itself out of the brand ad business, "crowding out the big money, high value brand ads."

In fact he argues the internet itself has become branded as a direct reponse platform, a space where, “for five to ten years, we have persuaded people you cannot build brands."

With consumers shifting to the internet in a flood, that poses a problem for big brands who still need to reach consumers - and am opportunity  for media companies to rethink the ads they sell and the lay-out of their sites. 

"Interactive advertising needs a creative revolution...we, the media and the advertisers have to work very hard to rebuild this industry."

This week two reports look a few new kinds of ad units, including  a case study on the  social media ad unit that tripled response rates for advertisers at the Chicago Tribune, and a list of resources to cheaply and efficiently deploy a variety of premium ads, including the Rising Stars.

These units will help solifidy key accounts by giving them something that competitors cannot - on the web. They can also be used as house ads to promote your new suite of products or paid content packages, do to the "cool factor." But our recommendation is to start working with a group of premium ads that includes at least a couple of Rising Stars by the end of 2012.

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