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A Commentary on Online Creative

  |  July 1, 2003   |  Comments

Mark's just a media guy. Why is he the one thinking all this stuff up?

This is such an exciting, dynamic industry to be part of. It seems literally every day, something's published or issued that changes the direction just a little. Few, if any, other communication verticals have this kind of change at this kind of pace. It requires us all to become human sponges and soak up all the information and news we're so frequently exposed to.

I've been thinking about an invention of sorts; a kind of filter to apply to my own human sponge. Sometimes we soak things up so quickly, we consume a bunch of garbage along with the good stuff. Time and again, I witness people regurgitating some statistic or opinion they read somewhere. I wholeheartedly believe they give absolutely no objective thought to what they're saying. They read it, it must be true. In no other area is this more common than in online creative.

Yahoo Creative Summit's Midwest show passed through Minneapolis last week (special thanks for bringing the event to Minneapolis -- a gutsy choice, given our proximity to Chicago). It went off pretty well and had what I consider very solid attendance. The Summit brought a nice contingent of speakers, some local, some from locations such as New York, St. Louis, southern California, and Austin, Texas. It was a sort of feel-good show that got people in the same room to talk about what's going on.

One thing the event did for me was underscore the top ad industry creative people are not focusing on the Internet. I suppose I don't blame them. Most traditional agencies are adverse to recommending the Web as a core component of a communications plan, due to their inability to show a profit for that type of work (a topic for another column).

Why aren't top creatives interested in online? The very title, "creative," implies they'd fit perfectly in this crazy landscape. How many times have you, as a media person, created something in a plan that didn't previously exist? I can't count the number of times we've broken new ground at our shop. You'd think this would be a compelling reason for a creative person to be interested in interactive.

The fact the Internet facilitates two-way dialogue is another compelling aspect. I listen to creatives talk about "connecting with people" and ultimately persuading them. Want to know if you've connected with someone? Try it online. You'll know in short order.

Something else is stuck in my craw. Creative online "news" is of relatively minor significance. At the show, a report from Dynamic Logic and Nielsen//NetRatings was presented. It looks at rich versus standard media (among other things). I wasn't present to absorb the full story, but according to all published reports, it appears the net takeaway is "bigger is better" and "rich media works." Someone kill me now. Please.

Of course it is, and of course it does.

The bigger the space, the more you can do inside it. The more functional the ad platform, the more likely you are to engage your target. None of this addresses real issues.

The Internet is a second-class citizen (or worse) in the eyes of creatives. It receives second-class attention and talent, particularly at larger agencies.

Think about the medium's pervasiveness. In the very near future, it will be literally everywhere: on your car or boat, on the sidewalk, at the coffee shop, in every room at home, in the elevator, on your restaurant table, in the airplane seat. Most of this already exists! In some parts of the world, telephone infrastructure is so poor narrowband was almost completely skipped in favor of a digital infrastructure. In many parts of Korea, network TV is piped into homes over a broadband connection. It's streamed.

A streaming TV network? Think of the possibilities! We have a financial services client who would love to have people customize their experience on a streamed network specific to home mortgages, tax services, financial advice, and similar offerings. I'd think a beverage maker or entertainment provider would be thrilled at the prospect of creating a 24/7 "channel," where people could hear or create music, watch their favorite artists, chat with them, play games with others, and who knows how many other things.

I'm just a media guy. Why am I thinking this stuff up?

Creative possibilities in this medium are immense. We just need to get creative horsepower behind it and let those people ponder the possibilities. This is the new frontier in so many ways. Why aren't the right people interested? Once they are, we media folk can put all the nifty stuff in front of the right people.

House Update

Because a lot of you seem interested: First, wow! Thanks for all the interest in the sale of my house. No takers in the last week (in fact, only one showing). Keep your fingers crossed!

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Mark Redetzke Mark Redetzke is vice president of online media for Zentropy Partners, a unit of MRM (McCann Relationship Marketing). He's led Zentropy's Minneapolis online media department since 1999, where he develops integrated online contact strategies and oversees all planning and buying. Current clients include Nestle Purina, General Mills, H&R Block, Microsoft, Overture and Sprint. Earlier, Mark planned traditional and online media for Campbell-Mithun. He's a frequent guest lecturer at conferences and graduate advertising and communications courses at St. Thomas University; the University of Minnesota; Minneapolis School of Communication Arts & Design and the 4A's.

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