When the Berlin Wall came crashing down, somebody declared the end of history. History, defined as a series of political events, was deemed to be over. (I’d like to tell you who that person was, but since it happened at the end of history, nobody remembers).
With that in mind, I declare (after the crashing of a different kind of Wall these last two weeks), the end of arrogance. The end of hubris. The end of biting the hand that feeds you. All of which might end up being very good for the rich media advertising industry.
There is certainly no shortage of arrogance and hubris throughout the Internet industry. I mean it is hard to be humble when you are twenty-eight years old and driving around in a Porsche Boxter, fat from all your stock options (unless you happen to be Rex Briggs, of course). But the arrogance I’m talking about here is that which comes, specifically, from the web publishing industry, especially those advertising supported sites.
For a while there, it seemed like publishers looked at advertisers and agencies as some kind of necessary evil. Somebody in the company had to deal with these cretins, but you certainly didn’t have to work with them. No, you didn’t have to bend over backwards: We don’t take Java. Forget streaming. Flash! I’m not going to waste my valuable resources integrating that into my web page. We only take GIFs. It’s not my problem if they aren’t effective. And like a star-struck fan, the advertisers just took it, even though they were paying for the party.
I’ve actually seen publishers get up in front of an audience of advertisers and agencies and say: “If you want to put a rich media ad on my site, call me in five years.” I wonder if that publisher wishes the agencies were calling now. Fact is, publisher acceptance is one of the biggest hurdles facing the rich media advertising industry.
Here’s the usual drill: A rich media technology company goes to the agency and gets them all hot and bothered about their latest cool offering. The agency tells the advertiser about this cool new thing they discovered that would be perfect for their next campaign. Everything is a go. Then the media planner says to the technology company, lets run it on the hot kid site, the cool women site, the cuddly animal site.
And that’s where things stop dead. The sites say: Our customers don’t like rich media. It takes too long to download. It’s too hard to integrate. Disappointed agency, disappointed advertiser. And agencies don’t like to disappoint their clients, so pretty soon they stop trying to use rich media for banner advertising.
Or they try email instead. In fact, this is the very reason I’m excited about rich media email. First, the publisher acceptance issue goes away. There are no publishers. Working with a company like Digital Impact, an advertiser can work directly with companies like AudioBase and RadicalMail to deliver very high impact, targeted, rich media enhanced messages to a predisposed audience. And the results have been outstanding.
Putting that aside, there are companies out there trying to make things work between the publishers and agencies wanting to use rich media, knowing it can be done easily and effectively. One of them is the sponsor of this series: Solbright. Solbright has been working quietly in the background, putting together technology solutions that make it easy not only for publishers to integrate rich media technologies into their web pages as easily as GIF banners, but also making it just as easy for agencies to buy, track, and manage rich media ad campaigns. I urge you to check them out.
And now for a little announcement: I’m taking a brief sabbatical from this column to give myself a chance to recharge my batteries, discover some cool new technologies, and see my kids again. Fortunately, the folks here at ClickZ have found an awesome replacement for me.
I won’t spoil the surprise, but you most certainly will want to check out next week’s column. In the mean time, please keep me informed on what you all are up to out there, and I hope to see some of you at the next Rich Media SIG meeting.