The early days of online media have long been described as "the Wild West," and with good reason. Little true media planning went on, people bought and sold ad space like mad, and ad creative could amount to anything the publisher was willing to accept. As Internet advertising grew in popularity and real campaigns came online, agencies struggled with media planning turned on its head: instead of the ad concept and creative coming first for which the media buyer had to only locate placements, the lack of standards meant the media plan almost had to be developed before creative development could be started.
To rectify this problem, in August 2002, the Internet advertising trade association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, set out to develop ad unit standards. One of the results was the Universal Ad Package (UAP) and other standardized units that define ad placement sizes to this day. The problem remains, however, that sizes are only part of the equation, and as online advertising gets more complex, although the IAB has done a good job of keeping up with new media formats (rich media, video, e-mail and lead gen, mobile, social media, and the like), not all publishers conform to the same standards, while at the same time, creative teams continue to push the envelope.
Complex Ad Creative Ramifications for Media Planners
These days, because of standards, ad concepting and development can happen in conjunction with media planning, but still not without challenges. The more complex the ad and varied the media plan, the more likely the project manager should anticipate (and build time in for) technical issues, greater need for departmental collaboration, and more ad testing. Tags, scripts, and ad serving limitations can all wreak havoc on a campaign launch if not properly planned for.
Media Planner Proactivity
Certainly, there are things good media planners should be doing to help minimize these kinds of campaign issues:
As digital ad creative ever-evolves, you can't help but be excited by what kind of user and advertiser experience it can deliver, but at the same time, this innovation breeds challenges. The more you recognize and plan for this fact, the more likely you'll minimize problem campaigns.
Meet Hollis Thomases at SES New York, March 22-26, 2010 at the Hilton New York. SES and ClickZ are part of Incisive Media.
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A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."
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