Home  › Marketing › Strategies

The Standard Should Be Innovation

  |  May 15, 2002   |  Comments

As the industry gropes for standards, bear in mind they're important -- but not necessarily a priority.

There's a rallying cry in the online ad industry for standards. But how important are they? One way to gauge the importance of standards for the our industry is to consider the history of outdoor advertising.

The technology for printing illustrated posters was perfected in 1796. About 70 years later, this country had 300 sign-painting and bill-posting companies. Billboards were leased nationally. Yet it wasn't until 1900, when a standardized billboard structure was created, for advertisers like Kellogg, Coca-Cola and Palmolive to mass-produce billboard ads for the national market. Standards fueled the growth of outdoor advertising, which had already been around for 100 years.

There are a lot of people in our industry hoping it won't take a century for our standards to develop. They shouldn't worry. While it seems the industry moves slowly, we've made good progress in a few short years.

Thousands of different ad unit sizes were used on the Web just a few years ago, AdRelevance reported. That made it hard for media planners to plan across multiple sites using the same creative units. It was painful for publishers who were unable to accept certain types of ads.

In 1996, then again in 2001, the IAB released size guidelines that went a long way in helping the industry develop a common buying and selling currency. Online advertising became more efficient.

There remain too many aspects of online advertising with no accepted standards. I've sat in the meeting at least 20 times in the last four years: the one where everyone discusses how the industry should define an ad impression. The recent discovery of reach and frequency measurement led to more opportunity, but deeper uncertainty about quantifying the Internet audience.

There's consensus that developing standards is good. Is that always the case? I don't think so. The banner unit, the foundation of Internet advertising during the boom years, is a standard that became synonymous (albeit wrongly so) with ineffective advertising.

Ironically, as online advertising moves towards standardization, offline media are headed in the opposite direction. On TV, product placement and creative sponsorships increasingly supplant standard 30-second spots. These buys are becoming more popular, although they defy standards that have been in place for decades.

We need measurement standards -- there's no doubt about that. But standardizing current Internet advertising practices should not be a priority. Finding new ways to meet advertisers' objectives is our path to growth.

Standards needn't hinder innovation. This is as true for the Internet as any other ad medium. Sixty years after billboard standards were established, the French outdoor company JCDecaux invented the bus shelter. This new vehicle caused great industry growth. The outdoor industry learned that standards are important -- as is change and flexibility.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeffrey Graham

Jeffrey Graham is vice president of client development at Dynamic Logic, a company he joined in January of 2001. Dynamic Logic specializes in measuring the branding effectiveness of online marketing. Jeffrey has served as research director at two online advertising agencies, Blue Marble and NOVO, and has worked with clients such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble, and Continental Airlines. He has taught Internet Research at New York University and has a Masters degree in the subject.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

Jobs

    • SEO Specialist
      SEO Specialist (NJM Insurance Group) - West TrentonNew Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company is an industry leader among its peers and the largest...
    • Paid Search / Search Engine Marketing (SEM, PPC) Specialist
      Paid Search / Search Engine Marketing (SEM, PPC) Specialist (HeBS Digital) - New York  JOB TITLE:        ...