There's a pretty good article in AdAge today about the online display market and how it isn't gaining as much traction as all of the hype would assume. In fact, with the economy starting to decline, AdAge says that the display market is getting hit harder than traditional media. The reason is largely because traditional media (TV, print, and radio) simply gets more reach. And that's partly because the traditional media is better for branding content than online ads have been so far.
I've long felt that rich Internet applications and the online advertising market are deeply intertwined. Not necessarily on the pure display ads side of things, but as a way to build brand and deliver more pure forms of advertising online. AdAge brings up the quintissential example: Nike Plus.
More marketers are creating their own media and their own consumer experiences. Nike Plus, of course, is the perennial example of marketing taking an advertising budget and creating a real-world utility that essentially becomes proprietary media.
I'm excited to see more companies jump in and create experiences like Nike Plus that cater very heavily to a brand and bring with it all of the various aspects of the "lifestyle" you'd want. In Nike Plus' case, those are things like exercise, fitness, and achieving goals. The added community aspect makes it easy to share (and in theory, keeps you on track).
The Roles of Agencies
One impact of this new advertising medium is going to be increased importance of agencies and development shops. R/GA did the Nike Plus site and were able to use their skills in the interactive world to create a high quality branded experience. By all accounts, the Nike Plus site has been a big success. As other companies look into creating something similar, it will be the agencies with strong interactive ties that benefit and perhaps lessen the importance of the pure advertising agencies. RIA skills will be in even more demand and being able to completely customize and design an RIA will be an important skill set.
I've still got a lot of faith that advertising on the internet is the holy grail. It's easier to track, easier to change campaigns, and it's more global. We just don't have the right hooks or techniques yet to make the jump. But the more experimentation we get the better. I think the hype is well-deserved.