Will a bad economy, tight production budgets, and general mayhem may make rich media your best bet?
If you've been in online advertising for the past several years, you know what a bad time can look like in this thriving, vibrant industry. I don't think we've ever returned to the pre-Y2K-party-every-night days of yore. Instead, we've rebounded and become stronger and a little more sober.
Despite that, we may be headed for some familiar times. The financial failures of others are impacting many aspects of advertising and specialized Web experiences. Big budget online productions will feel the weight of the budget-cutting blade soon, if they haven't already.
Does this mean a long siege of "nephew-ware" banners and Web sites until big budgets come back?
What happened to the Internet's consistent rise in media spending? Has the steady, deliberate, and rational growth of the adolescent post-crash online world reached its young adult plateau?
This could be an allegorical moment in the Internet's enigmatic young life. In tough times when there are layoffs, it's last-to-come, first-to-go.
Hopefully marketers with a solid online advertising budget have evolved beyond that idiom. In some ways they have -- they're spending more online than ever before. Just because the spending slows and doesn't flow into online is some measure of the new ad channel's acceptance.
On the other hand, online budgets aren't that big comparatively. So an across-the-board cut in marketing spend is a bit unfair, considering that with the reduction in disposable cash many consumers will spend lots more time in the virtual world.
Apart from selling stuff, this may be the perfect time to build (dare I say it) a brand relationship with the stay-at-home online shut-in.
But how to make the most of that online dollar spend with an ever-imminent shrinking budget? Here are a few ways that might help:
For some, video online will be another place to put the :30 TV spot, and nothing will change that mentality. Trying to make the Internet like TV is short-term thinking as our user base moves from the living room couch and becomes free-agent consumers of all things interesting to them.
The recent financial strife may just separate the wheat from the chaff and encourage innovative use of rich media, rather than the "set-it-and-forget-it" online video advertising we see today.
In difficult times, can we learn more about ourselves as thinkers, marketers, and people? The wow factor may be less important to those under budget constraints and the true application of technology may ultimately matter more than ever. Our financial situation may be the beginning of what we may consider an age of digital enlightenment.
Dorian Sweet is the vice president and executive creative director of GSI Interactive who leads strategic development and innovation in online advertising, Web development, e-commerce, and customer relationship management programs. His work has brought award-winning online solutions to such clients as Clorox, Miller Brewing Company, GE, Visa, eBay, British Airways, Wells Fargo, Discovery Networks, Motorola, Kodak, Sears, 20th Century Fox, and others.
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