2002: Industry Progress

As survival is a necessary precondition for prosperity, I consider 2002 a good year. No matter what the numbers might indicate, we’ve grown. The industry matured, and the media environment continues to evolve in ways that suggest an even brighter future.

This column, my last this year, describes what I think were the most important issues that emerged in 2002. In my next column, which will appear after holidays, I will make some predictions for 2003.

In my view, the following are the most important trends of 2002.

Cross-Media Planning

In September, I wrote in “The Online Branding Hub” that advertisers were starting to use the Web as the centerpiece of their cross-media efforts. As media channels continue to fragment and marketers struggle to build relationships efficiently, the Web is increasingly used to extend the brand promise.

Advertisers spend, and will continue to spend, much more offline than on the Internet. Success is possible only if we can help marketers integrate the Internet into their media mix. That fact took hold among media sellers this past year.


One of the great Web marketing ironies is that as the industry strives to become more like television, mimicking both its commercial formats and metrics, television is becoming more like the Web.

Take TV sports. TiVo-busting ad units magically appear on football fields. Ads that “pop up” over the action and instant polls drive thousands of viewers to Web sites.

In a recent column, I observed the online/offline convergence, while slow and sloppy, is happening before our eyes. Add broadband-connected video game consoles to the mix (as Microsoft and Sony are furiously doing), and you have an emerging landscape where boundaries between TV and the Web blur.

The first chapters are only just being written, but convergence is shaping up to be a big story.


Early this year, I argued reach/frequency metrics are no panacea for increasing online ad spending. I still believe the primary focus of our industry needs to be successfully meeting marketing objectives, one campaign at a time.

Thanks to people like Dave Smith, a de facto leader in analyzing the industry’s progress in developing metrics, I better recognize the opportunities reach/frequency metrics offer.

It’s not just about allowing media planners to plan online and offline on the spreadsheet. Reach and frequency are linchpins in the integration of all kinds of metrics, allowing advertisers to better answer the most important question of all: How can I employ a combination of media, using each to its best advantage, to achieve my objectives?

Brand Marketers

Since the dot-com collapse, traditional brand marketers have been the online ad industry’s primary target. For too long, they seemed to only reluctantly advertise online. This year, brand marketers lead the way.

Over the course of 2002, a good deal of enthusiasm came from marketers learning how the Internet can help them build their businesses. Best practices are emerging within these companies. That indicates increasing confidence and that these companies use the Internet with a new facility.

Let’s hope brand marketers retain this trailblazing position in “best of” retrospectives of years to come.

This year was different from the last. We’ve fully emerged from the shock of the dot-gone economy. Now our task is to stay focused on the steady duties of listening to marketers, addressing objectives, and executing. If that sounds obvious, then 2002 truly was a fine year for this industry.

Happy holidays.

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.