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Taking Interactive Marketers' Pulse

  |  December 12, 2006   |  Comments

What's making online marketers happy, and what's keeping them up at night.

Last week, Emma Coker, one our media directors, attended an iMedia Summit, a forum that gives media practitioners a chance to gather and learn, to exchange ideas and network.

As soon as Coker got back, I wanted an update on what she learned. "What are people in our industry talking about right now?" I asked.

As you can imagine, there's a lot of excitement about our industry. And why not? It's being taken seriously. Budgets are being redirected to interactive. Innovation occurs every day. It's easy to get excited. But even with that excitement, there are concerns. Growing pains, if you will.

Here are some topics Coker tells me are on the minds of the top interactive marketers in America:

  • Hiring, hiring, and more hiring. Do I even need to get into this? Everyone's struggling to find qualified talent. The industry is growing, and there just aren't enough people to meet the demand.

  • Discrepancies. From the beginning of online advertising and third-party ad serving, we've struggled to handle impression discrepancies. And the problem hasn't gone away. In fact, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) held a Measurement Expo last year to bring new solutions to the table, including auditing standards. But marketers are concerned that even these standards won't fix the problem. And speaking of the IAB, it seems some marketers feel there's not enough agency representation in that organization.

  • Terms and conditions. Several publishers have instituted master terms and conditions agreements with agencies and advertisers. Often, this is a good thing. It means we don't have to go back and forth, negotiating for every buy. However, there are concerns about publishers lacking flexibility. We sometimes request changes to accommodate a client's objectives. In some cases, that means having a tighter out clause or flexibility in ad material delivery. I don't know if there's a good answer to this dilemma. I remember calling for the standardization. Now we're getting that, and it seems we want more flexibility.

  • Video. There's a lot of excitement about how fast online video advertising is growing. Marketers are also excited about how video performs online; it generates high levels of awareness and response. Concerns have to do with publishers with different video ad specifications. Often, this means they're using different player technology, which limits the audience and can be a problem for the end user. Finally, marketers know video will command a higher CPM (define) than other online ad forms. That said, there's worry the increase in CPM for video isn't in line with the increase in platform performance.

  • Mobile. Although there's been a lot of buzz around mobile marketing, marketers are slow to adopt. It seems not as many people are testing the platform as I thought. I was somewhat disappointed to learn this since I've been a proponent of mobile, but it makes sense. Carriers still have different platforms, making it hard to reach significant-sized audiences. The volume just doesn't seem to be there. That's a big hurdle. And of course, there are concerns about mobile users' potential negative response to advertising.

This certainly isn't an exhaustive list of things on marketers' minds. Coker came back from the event with three pages of notes. So depending on the feedback I get on this list, I may discuss some other things she heard.

What are you hearing? If there are topics you hear about, things that are important to you and that may be important to the industry, let me know. It may show up in a future column.

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Pete Lerma Pete Lerma began his advertising career in the traditional side of the business, where he spent six years managing accounts for clients such as Coca-Cola and Subway. He then realized interactive marketing was where it's at and, in 1998, joined Click Here, The Richards Group's interactive marketing division. During his tenure at Click Here, he's forged relationships with major online publishers, networks and technology companies, and these relationships contribute to his perspective on the interactive marketing industry. As Click Here's principal, Pete oversees accounts for high profile brands including Atlantis, Hyundai, Travelocity, and Zales. His group has won numerous awards for their strategic and creative work, including recognition from the IAB, Ad:Tech, The One Club, Graphis, and Communication Arts. Pete serves on the board of directors for the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association and also contributes to the marketing blog ChaosScenario.

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