P&G effort to set online ad policies moves to Europe

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Procter & Gamble Co.'s FAST Forward initiative to promote and set guidelines for online advertising now moves to Europe.

FAST Forward Europe held its first summit to attract members and set goals June 1-2 in Amsterdam at @d:tech's first European conference. (FAST stands for Future of Advertising Stakeholders, and is an outgrowth of the U.S. organization founded a year ago at the P&G-sponsored summit.)

"The key message is we want people from the industry [to participate] and we're action-focused," said Frederic Colas, co-founder, team leader at Procter & Gamble Interactive, Brussels.

Mr. Colas said the next step will be to release, in about two weeks, draft action plans for six key issues on the FAST Web site. Four of the subjects, each of which will have a committee and a team leader, are similar to the U.S. FAST agenda: try to get more consumer acceptance of digital advertising; come up with new online ad models; develop a reliable currency for audience measurement; and make it easier to buy and sell online media.


New topics for Europe are interactive TV, seen as having greater potential in Europe than in the U.S., and ways to enhance the targeting of digital advertising.

The other working groups will deal with issues including audience measurement and how to win consumer acceptance and trust.

So far the core FAST Forward Europe group consists of P&G, IBM Corp. Europe, MSN and the Internet Advertising Bureau as well as industry trade groups representing advertisers, ad agency and market research groups.

Mr. Colas said he expects the six committees to be formed by the end of June and will start a search for a paid staff person to run the new FAST Forward Europe organization.

Europe still faces different challenges from the U.S., such as per-minute charges for local phone calls.

"Telecommunications de-regulation will have a big impact," Ms. Colas said. "In the U.S., you can spend the whole day [online] in front of a computer. In Europe, you pay by the minute. So consumers have a utilitarian use of the Internet. And advertising has to bring even more value."

FAST Forward Europe plans to hold its next summit in November, when its first guidelines will be published.


Separately, in one of the @d:tech conference's keynote speeches, a top P&G executive confessed that despite industry accolades for P&G's interactive leadership, he doesn't believe consumers are impressed.

"First, we haven't learned how to respond to the needs and expectations consumers have when they enter the digital environment," said J. Michael Cleary, VP, advertising-Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"Second, we have approached the Internet as if it were simply another broadcast medium. The question we should be asking is `What special benefit or added value can I provide to customers, as a result of the unique capabilities of the Internet?"'

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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