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Beyond bigger banners

Kathy Sharpe's "Standardization stunts growth" (Forum, AA, March 12) hit it right on the head. Yes, the Internet Advertising Bureau has come up with more standard banner sizes with the hope that bigger banner ads will generate better results, and certainly the "bigger is better" approach is a step in the right direction. But size only addresses one symptom of a larger illness. The whole online ad market has become dependent on immediate measurement, and there are two fundamental issues occurring at this time that affect performance.

One is that advertisers are bombarded with data about how effective their online ads are. All they really need are answers to two questions: "Did my advertising deliver the intended brand experience?" and "Did my advertising deliver more dollars to my business?". Unfortunately, because these questions are starting to be answered via the Internet, an expectation has developed among advertisers that's never been imposed on offline media. And that's not right.

The second is advertisers expect immediate results. If you're in a cab and you see a billboard for Gap khakis, you wouldn't expect to say, "Stop the cab at the first Gap you see. I've got to have those khakis now!" We don't expect immediacy from TV, print or billboards, so why expect it from the Web?

Online advertising is fairly healthy for being so new. Just ask well-established companies like Gap, Levi's, or MasterCard and you'd hear a very different story-a success story. Most companies, however, are reluctant to disclose how effective their online ads are because they don't want competitors to know their success strategies.

I've managed successful online campaigns for big names that have significantly reduced advertisers' acquisition costs while increasing sales and brand recall. And I'm confident standardization and bigger banner ads, along with more exploratory ad delivery formats, will generate better results-but only if they're supported by strong messaging, imagery and simple yet fair measuring tools. When this happens, advertisers will move online and rationalize their expectations.

Stephanie Herold

VP-Client Services

Interadnet Inc.

Raleigh, N.C.

Editor's note: Interadnet tracks and measures online ad campaigns. Before joining the company in 1999, Ms. Herold was associate manager of branding strategy in Glaxo Wellcome's Consumer Healthcare Marketing Group, where she was responsible for overseeing development and execution of Internet media activities.

JWT did right

I agree wholeheartedly with your headline on the editorial "JWT did right by Goodyear" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 5). We take responsibility and accountability very seriously where I work, and it's refreshing to see senior management "telling the truth even when it hurts." I assume people lost jobs over the income loss at JWT, a very unfortunate by-product, but it was the right thing to do. If I ever wanted to change agencies, JWT-because of its integrity-would top my list.

Carl Whitmire

VP-Management Supervisor

Arnold Worldwide

McLean, Va.

In defense of `IT'

Randall Rothenberg's screed concerning "IT" ("The story of `IT' shows that hype can hurt more than help," Viewpoint, AA, Jan. 22) seems to indicate his own prejudices concerning real innovations-be they immediate or simply promised. The media's interest in "IT" is because of its provenance, promise and the source of its praise, not in spite of it.

Rothenberg's references to Dean Kamen, "an obscure inventor" who developed "worthy doodads" such as an insulin pump and a climbing wheelchair (minor developments indeed when compared to the likes of new laundry detergents, fast food line extensions, "reality TV" and other items regularly gushed over by Advertising Age) seem hardly relevant comparisons to the hype, decried by Rothenberg, associated with these aforementioned marketing breakthroughs.

That Kamen's invention reportedly has been lauded by "failing businessmen," including Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and John Doerr-their contributions and net worth no doubt dwarfed by Mr. Rothenberg's-and the notion that the Harvard Business School Press, publisher of Clayton Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" (check its place on the best-seller lists) would dare to be so co-opted is simply, well, shocking, in comparison to what Hillary Clinton received for her unwritten but obvious "must-read" memoir.

Is "IT" real? Time will tell. But innovation, to be adopted, must have its praises sung early and often. This is the role of marketing ("and we are all marketers, aren't we?"). Remind Mr. Rothenberg that while "The Soul of a New Machine" may still be in print, the mini-computer and its originators, Digital Equipment and Data General, are effectively long gone.

Paul Wiefels

Managing Director

The Chasm Group LLC

San Mateo, Calif.


* In "Regarding Henry" (AA, March 26, P. 1), a profile of director Henry Corra, his first name was incorrectly stated in a caption as Richard. In the same story, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles was inaccurately referred to as part of Omnicom Group. DMB&B is a unit of Bcom3 Group.

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