In 1985 David Ogilvy opened his magnum opus, "Ogilvy on Advertising," with a simple and profound statement: "I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information." This salvo was followed by more than 200 pages of detailed dissections of print, radio and television spots to uncover why some commercials led to direct increases in sales while others failed to move the needle.
It's too bad that the "father of advertising" (according to Time, Ogilvy was "the most sought-after wizard in the advertising industry") didn't live long enough to hurl his unique blend of lavish praise and poison darts at a medium that didn't even exist when he penned what is regarded by many as the most important book ever written about advertising.
As online advertising moves into its second decade, there is enough of a track record for the next generation of David Ogilvys to formulate their own theories about what kinds of web-based campaigns work and which ones fail to get the job done. But while many advertising agencies have been able to transfer their design skills from traditional media to the web, one of the major stumbling blocks for online advertisers is not a creative one, but a technological one. The harsh reality is that online advertisers simply can't succeed without a comprehensive approach to managing technology that matches their creative excellence.
It's no secret that, as with all aspects of online media, operations and technology have been integral to web-based advertising from day one. Although we are beginning to see significant dollars move from print and broadcast media to the online arena, one of the industry's dirty little secrets is that despite improvements in technology over the last 10 years there is still a huge amount of friction remaining in online ad operations.
And even though many of the initial operational difficulties with online advertising have been resolved, issues surrounding metrics, media types, targeting, privacy, as well as integration and automation remain as significant barriers to online "closing the gap" between current spending (four to five percent) and usage (20 to 30 percent) as compared with other media.
One of the most complex problems that continues to vex online advertisers is the collection and analysis of metrics. To put it bluntly, most agencies, advertisers and technology service providers aren't very good at it. This is somewhat ironic, given that the internet, perhaps more than any other medium, has the best mechanisms for pinpointing exactly who looked at an ad, when he or she saw it, and how he or she behaved upon seeing it.
This kind of information is the "holy grail" for marketers, yet most online advertisers simply don't have the back-end infrastructure to collect and process this information. Needless to say, this is one of the most critical operational issues facing online publishers and agencies today.
More than 20 years after David Ogilvy's book came out, one of his admonishments is every bit as true today as it was in the days before "surfing the web" became part of the lexicon. In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.
Agencies need to develop superior creative campaigns, but they also need to focus on the decidedly unglamorous -- but critically important -- back-end side of their work. As a first step, they need to evaluate how their technical infrastructures are functioning, and what needs to be improved. With the advent of search and the change in buying habits toward searching before buying and granularity of data available, we are closer than ever before to offering our clients data they need to evaluate multi-channel campaigns. Information on all mediums employed needs to be at hand, in one place, and in an easy-to-compare and evaluation format. Agencies that can offer off-the-shelf and custom solutions for their clients are in a position to win additional business and please more clients.
Worldwalk Media (WWM) is a full-service global communications firm known for its boutique approach to service and exemplary, high-touch results. It provides creative, media, business, brand and technology solutions that allow the company to deliver far-reaching, award-winning multi-channel campaigns that are powerfully simple, yet thoroughly connected. WWM is based in San Francisco and serves clients in North America, Europe and Asia. Industries served include consumer, technology and entertainment. Google has been a client since 2002.
Working with cutting-edge clients, Worldwalk Media is a leading provider of goal-oriented campaigns, media and online advertising analytics. Its website is located at www.worldwalkmedia.com or www.worldwalk.net.
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