Summertime’s Over: Time to Work

It’s that time of year again. Days are becoming cooler and shorter, dazed-looking children are loitering around in their driveways wearing stiff new clothes while waiting for buses that they don’t want to catch, and the trees around the houses are threatening to dump loads of leaves all over the minivans.

I remember the first day of school being a combination of excitement and dread. Excitement because of the possibilities that a fresh start offers (“This year, I’m going to actually do some of my homework!”). Dread because of the lockstep of public education, which I found to be a bit stifling and not very well suited to the confused and unmotivated.

Fortunately, I no longer have to face the angst of sitting crammed behind a too-small desk, in alphabetical order, watching the clock crawl slowly by while fantasizing that somehow my French teacher would suddenly become inspiring. Instead, I get to play teacher and help prepare the next generation of college students for survival when doing business on the Web, all the while finding ways to make this column more informative and not the biweekly diatribe of despair it’s become.

The world of rich media advertising isn’t quite where any of us wanted it to be. The promise of a few years ago was that rich media technologies would bloom like the grandest flower and make the world an exciting and beautiful place to live. Well, maybe not that great, but the expectations for rich media to be the future powerhouse of online advertising have fallen way short. This shortfall, however, might just be enough to inspire us to try harder with the next generation of rich media technology.

Normally, such a statement is enough to fill my mailbox with notes from vendors eager to show me how they expect to make the world of online advertising a better place. That’s just what I’m hoping for.

Let me preface my request by saying that I have seen very many rich media “solutions” during the past few years. Many have been impressive, but impractical to implement on a full scale. Others have represented only a small part of any solution. Still others have been a rehash of things that have already come and gone.

Creative effective online advertising has a lot less to do with glitzy technology and much more to do with using the interactive channels to properly communicate with customers. We have all learned the hard way that just because you put an ad on a Web page doesn’t mean that it’s going to do its job.

Effective online advertising requires a plan of attack, an understanding of the customer base, and realistic expectations of what constitutes an effective campaign. There are no magical technological solutions here — just a best-practices approach that allows ads to communicate their benefits to prospective customers. But if the technology can help with the communication, then it has a place in the future of online advertising.

What I want to see is technology and online advertising solutions that have the potential to make the world of online advertising more effective for advertisers and easier for advertisers and agencies to use, and which can be expected to be the “next big thing” in online advertising. It doesn’t have to make the world safe for online advertising, but it should have great appeal and usefulness.

Send me your links, your marketing brochures, and your inspiring notes, and I’ll take a peek. If I think what you offer is worth sharing, I’ll be happy to spill a little virtual ink for you in future articles in this column.

And if you’re stuck on how to create effective rich media ads that meet their communications objectives, I know some very talented people who can assist you there. You can contact me.

Now, since I was able to finish up this article in time, I can go outside and play on the monkey bars for a while. Does it get any better than that?

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