There is a coming creative revolution in digital advertising. Despite the DSPs and RTBs, most RFPs from major brand advertisers proclaim things like “what can you do custom, unique, and high impact!” This clear and crystal messaging on many RFPs is often accompanied with the comment “standard display units as value add only!”
I believe we are returning to the golden age of advertising not seen since Ogilvy, Doyle Dane, and Mary Wells. As part of her campaign for Braniff, Wells had the entire fleet painted in vibrant colors; Ogilvy changed the very look of print advertising, and Doyle Dane proclaimed the car that they were advertising a “Lemon.” And so in this light, it serves to reasons, that great advertising would be novel, integrated, and high impact. How could great advertising fit in a standard banner when the very essence of great advertising is an engaging idea or message.
And so the market is forking. Standard display units are for low cost direct response. Branded content and social advertising are for awareness and demand generation. And branded content and social advertising don’t fit in a standard unit.
This is especially true with regard to purchases that take consideration and almost all purchases made in the physical world. Especially with regard to categories like CPG, tune-in, larger cost items, and services- branding and awareness are the goal of online advertising. No one buys a car or a candy bar online, but you do need to learn about these items online. And good advertising is the way to do it.
Fragmentation is a necessary consequence of good advertising being information driven and creative. Form does need to follow function with regard to media outlets. The advertising needs to fit both the format and context of the medium.
We’ve seen fragmentation in media occur historically and similarly impact advertising. This occurred in television in my lifetime. I was born in 1977 when cable television was nascent to say the least. Television media buyers only bought a handfull of channels that were mass market as recently as the 70s and 80s. No doubt the explosion of narrowly focussed cable channels dramatically increased both the complexity and opportunity in television buying over the past 30+ years; this lead to commercials needing to be narrow-casted to more verticalized audiences, or even the emergence of a new classes of products that could be affordably marketed on television to more contextually targetable audiences.
I believe that social and content driven advertising is effecting the same change in online media, as creative and media planning becomes more, and not less, important for the campaigns of the Fortune 500. And, I believe we are seeing, and will continue to see the creative and media planning processes continue to get more integrated.
I’m spending the bulk of my leisure reading time studying the advertising of the 50′s through 70′s because I believe that the future of Fortune 500 brand advertising will closely resemble that world.
I think DSPs and real time will continue to play a vital and rapidly growing role, one that has a vital role in our business as well, but that much is widely acknowledged. The increasing importance of creativity and high touch media planning is the side of all this that is not as widely acknowledged but is an awesome reality for any one in the business of working with large brand advertisers today.
The future of brand advertising on the Internet is more creative, social, integrated, and custom.