AD BUDGETS: INITIATIVE COULD LEAD TO MORE MONEY

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Marketers, agencies and publishers are all pining for unique online creative concepts that deliver a forceful and relevant message, while also achieving desired business objectives. Those objectives range from brand awareness and customer retention programs to promotions linked to offline sales. It's often a tall order.

The Interactive Best Practices Initiative (see story at left) assembles best-of-breed examples of digital marketing and media programs that play up eye-popping creative. "In a way, it's maybe a kick in the pants that the industry needs to take the medium up a notch," said Sarah Fay, president, Aegis Group's Carat Interactive, of the Initiative. "What has held back budget allocation [for online marketing] more than anything is that people just don't envision great marketing on the Web, they see buttons and banners."

In February, Yahoo! created Yahoo! Back Page, a feature that enables marketers to own prime real estate similar to its home page. In August, Gap used Yahoo! Back Page to preview four new TV spots. Consumers clicked on a corner tear element on the Yahoo! Home Page, the Back Page then peeled open and revealed links to the commercials.

"If you look at The Gap, it's one of the outstanding innovations in online creative," said Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer, Yahoo!

"The medium affords marketers a chance to create brand awareness that you can't do with static advertising," Ms. Millard said, adding that creatively, the medium cuts a wide swath, from awareness building to direct response and transactions.

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