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Interactivity has gone from buzzword to mantra so it comes as no surprise that the technology that permits TV and print to network with the Internet would be heralded as the next really big thing. But will top ad creatives take up its challenge?

The new service, from DigitalConvergence, allows TV and print audiences to hyperlink between offline and online content. NBC, with a 10% stake in the company, will use the technology on broadcast and cable programming. The print version will appear this fall in Wired, Forbes and Parade and in major metro newspapers.

"Thinking about all the ways this technology can be applied makes my hair hurt," said Steve Koonin, VP-consumer marketing for Coca-Cola. Mike Dolan, vice chairman of Young & Rubicam (another DigitalConvergence partner), expects the service "will revolutionize advertising on the Web."

Maybe so. But first interactive marketing has to pass a fundamental test: Proving to users that there really is a there out there. Advertisers committed to using such technologies have to create compelling Web sites and applications. Sending consumers to an online version of an off-line commercial is a sure-fire way of losing a sure bet.

That's the challenge for ad creatives. With networks and publishers lining up to use interactive technology, it's clear that TV and print are only part of the advertising landscape. And DigitalConvergence isn't the only such technology out there. The demand for interactive work will only intensify, and agency creatives had better be ready to meet it.

If the world is changing, and it is, then the ad world's idea of what it means to be creative must change with it.

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