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Cooperation was much on the mind of various speakers at the Association of National Advertisers annual meeting earlier this month. They talked of co-branding-two brands joining in a single effort-and co-marketing-working with a retailer on a campaign that promotes both parties.

Concurrently, a new survey finds grocery retailers very open to co-marketing with suppliers. They're ready to go beyond the typical co-op ads where the retailer features a product in its ads or on an end-aisle in return for payment.

A few decades ago, grocery retailers were wary of too much cooperation because they felt many suppliers were out to "steal" shelf space with massive coupon drops, heavy TV blitzes and overblown reports of how well the product was moving. But along came checkout scanners and now retailers know what sells, at what price, on what days and at what time of day. Retailers now have the facts, even selling the data to their suppliers.

Today, about 80% of grocery retailers are willing to put a good portion of their trade promotion dollars into equity-building, co-marketing programs, reports the survey by Meyers Research. Further, almost all retailers polled say co-marketing will be standard within five years.

That's solid evidence of improving relationships between brand marketers and the retail industry. Co-marketing implies a little thought on both sides of what they can best promote in concert. And well thought out co-marketing campaigns will certainly add efficiency and impact to consumer marketing.

Growth Pains

What's so important about two years?

Considering the 50-year history of commercial TV, the 70 years of radio and the even longer history of magazines, 104 weeks of Web advertising hardly seems like an anniversary worth marking.

But week upon week of wrenching change makes two years on the Web seem more like 10. In no other medium has an entire advertising market infrastructure sprung up so quickly. And no other medium has had as much pressure on it to succeed at such a young age.

This week, Advertising Age presents an Interactive Media & Marketing special feature focusing on the development of Web advertising over the past two years, and it's a key moment in the industry's short history. Gone are the days of experimentation: Almost all of the Ad Age 100 Leading National Advertisers have Web sites now, and nearly half have bought advertising on the Web this year. One sign of the new status of Web advertising is that many of these top advertisers will advance the Web from R&D status project and make it a portion of their media budget for the first time next year.

This would not have happened without the significant work that's been done in measuring the effectiveness of Web advertising. But now is the time when the pedal hits the metal, when sharp-eyed corporate bean counters become involved, for whom return on investment will be key.

The real work in this third year of Web advertising is not so much convincing marketers to try the Web, but to get them to commit significant money there. And if marketers can't find a way to show value for their Web investments, and soon, the Web advertising market won't succeed.

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