E-MAIL CONVERSATIONS WITH LEADING INDUSTRY THINKERS.

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Ed Meyer, chairman-CEO, Grey Advertising, New York

A year ago, all of the new-media buzz was centered on the concept of interactive TV and video on demand. Today, the spotlight is on commercial online services and, even more so, the Internet. What will we be talking about a year from now when the subject is the information revolution?

For new media to maintain its sex appeal, the applications will have to move from the gimmickry of today to the point where it provides consumers with a real benefit-a reason to make it part of their daily life.

What we will see is a greater trend toward customization at the programming level-similar to what we saw in the evolution of television. Broadcast became mass and then, with cable, specialized.

The consumer's ability and desire to customize new-media applications will make it more relevant to his or her life.

What role will marketers and advertisers play in building, funding and shaping the culture of the so-called information superhighway? Are they in danger of being left behind?

New-media applications cannot be economically delivered to consumers without advertising subsidizing its delivery. More importantly, advertisers and their agencies will be the leaders in shaping new media.

The beginning of every new medium has seen a lack of programming. Advertisers traditionally jumped into the void and created vehicles for advertising.

Until only very recently, there was no contextual environment for advertisers to play a role in new media.

What are the key issues that must be resolved or at least explored in the coming year with regard to new media?

One of the biggest issues is how we get women to use new-media applications and embrace these new technologies. With 70% of traditional advertising directed to women, it's vital to the success of new-media opportunities to appeal to and be used by women.

Another big issue is standardization. Every time a new commercial is created, it has to be authored in a distinct format.

The industry has got to agree on a common standard to make the options more effective.

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