Called the Partnership for the Future of TV Advertising, the group has been quietly working with major agencies and advertisers, including P&G, to develop a plan of attack.
Formed a year ago by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, the group is working with members of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers, and has begun reaching out to the broadcast and telephone industries.
"I think it's great Ed Artzt made that topic his keynote address. It validates the whole concept of getting all the players to work together to ensure that advertising has a place on the superhighway," said Bob Alter, vice chairman-acting president of the CAB and organizer of the partnership.
Jim Van Cleave, P&G VP-media and programming, has been representing his company in the partnership's meetings. There have been two to date.
So far, the focus has been on developing an agenda. Mr. Alter said the partnership had a "good response" to a survey asking for input on key issues.
"We're collating the responses right now, and those suggestions will be used to develop a compass on where to go," Mr. Alter said. Areas of key interest, he noted, are "applications, research problems and media planning issues, but it goes across the board."
Beth Rockwood, exec VP-associate director of communications services at Young & Rubicam, New York, has recommended focusing on representing advertiser interests in key legislation being developed to influence the growth of the telecommunications industry.
However, primary research and development of ad applications for new TV technologies should take place within individual ad agencies, representing the interests of specific clients, she said, because "that's where the real learning will take place."
Ms. Rockwood applauded the partnership effort as well as Mr. Artzt's call for an industry summit on the topic, while noting, however, that "people should get involved, but they shouldn't be panicking."
Mike Neavill, media manager of AT&T and another partnership participant, agreed: "I don't think the broadcast or cable industry needs to fear what's going to happen in the next few years, but it's incumbent for most advertisers to figure out where they are going to be in five years."