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Will Use Ads to Persuade Advertisers to Advertise Online

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In its most dramatic marketing initiative since changing its name, the Interactive Advertising Bureau today announced an ad campaign to persuade its industry to view itself as a promotable brand.

The theme of the new effort is "Interactive. It's the active ingredient." The goal is to convince marketers that interactive programs can be an effective element in their overall media mix.

Created by Stein Rogan & Partners, New York, with media buying and planning by Underscore Marketing, New York, the new campaign will officially debut next month on the Web sites of IAB members. Many have offered their media assets for free. Meanwhile, a soft launch rolls out today.

Drops 'Internet'
Founded in 1996 as

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the Internet Advertising Bureau, the IAB represents a wide array of media companies involved in digital advertising. After the great dot-com crash of 2000 and 2001, the group changed its name to drop "Internet" and emphasize "Interactive."

Member sites involved in the latest promotional effort include iVillage, AOL Time Warner, Yahoo, Real Networks and Forbes.com. While spending was not disclosed, the campaign is expected to last more than a year, with media commitments reaching into the multimillion-dollar range. The ads will also appear in trade publications, business publications and newspapers. The Newspaper Association of America is also expected to run ads.

'Neglected our brand'
"I think to a large extent that we as an industry have neglected our brand," said Greg Stuart, the IAB's president-CEO.

"We're getting stuff fixed," Mr. Stuart said. "And part of what we're trying to do is trying to educate the marketplace. ... Interactive has done a very poor job of that to date."

To be sure. When the dot-com bubble burst and the stock market tanked, many pundits and marketers viewed the Internet as a failed advertising medium. The IAB has been working to provide better data about the advertising being placed on the Internet.

"What we are seeing now is a lot of really hard work grounded in statistical evidence and proveable results. ... Smart advertisers are getting really good bang for their buck [with interactive media]," said Bruce Rogers, vice president of marketing at Forbes.com. Mr. Rogers' Web property and Forbes magazine will each run the IAB ad campaign.

$8.1 billion in ad spending
Online ad spending is expected to grow 11% this year to $8.1 billion, according to eMarketer, an aggregator of online research. However, in 2001, spending declined by 12%. Online portals like Microsoft Corp.'s MSN have been busily trying to promote the Internet's return on investment for marketers by using research studies with consumer brands.

In the last several months, the IAB has instituted new terms and conditions related to interactive advertising formats and measurement and has embarked on the second phase of a marketing-mix study designed to show how interactive media impacts a marketer's offline media plan. The group has begun work on reach and frequency issues.

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