The View from the Intersection of Madison Avenue and C++ Street
by Sally Atkins, UniNews Online Client/Server Correspondent
Advertising people are not like you and me. Lately I've found myself working in the company of some of these Madison Avenue types, people who are beginning to create campaigns for the major airlines, retailers, financial companies, and other giants of industry who now advertise out on the Internet. They need to staff Internet development efforts on such a regular basis that many agencies are now building up their own internal production houses, or buying up firms that do Internet production. This puts advertising, traditional IT departments of ad agencies' customers, and Unix and C++ people who work with either the client or the ad agency together, often for the first time. The opportunities, and challenges, are staggering.
How do ad people differ from you and me? The creative people who work in advertising are very right brained and driven by concepts. In TV or print advertising, implementing these ideas can be easier than in software. On the Internet, advertising calls for imagination on the part of the programmers too. It can be fun to bridge the gap from a creative storyboard to a working web concept. It pushes the envelope of what we can do with our new technology.
There are several types of advertising agencies operating in the Internet space today. The first are the "interactive" agencies which focus primarily on new media. CKS of Cupertino, California and Modem Media of Westport, Connecticut are examples of this class of agency. They do the creative work and the production work -- everything from dreaming up an ad campaign to programming, testing, and implementing the solution. This type of agency does not do web hosting, but rather teams up with a few ISPs who can host their clients' sites if the client chooses not to host it in-house.
The second type of agency is the established and traditional ad agency, such as Ogilvy and Mather in New York or Hill Holliday in Boston. These firms have built interactive divisions to augment the traditional print and TV work they do. The third type of agency is the web design shop that is just getting into advertising. These firms are transitioning from graphic design to advertising. They often need to find programming shops to work with as well as creative freelancers.
I predict that context based ads will be all the rage next year. You will see these ads on sites that are funded by advertising. Context based applets will provide some functionality or "user experience" beyond the simple click-through banner which takes you to the advertiser's site.
The ad campaigns and creative work that ad agencies are bringing to the web range from simple banner ads to sophisticated context based applets. Judging by the amount of work going on in preparation now, I predict that context based ads will be all the rage next year. You will see these ads on sites that are funded by advertising. Context based applets will provide some functionality or "user experience" beyond the simple click-through banner which takes you to the advertiser's site.
For many of us who began working in the distributed computing field well before the Internet went "commercial", the idea of advertising on the Internet can at first be hard to swallow. More than one friend from Stanford has told me I've "crossed over". But if you view the state of the Internet today as a new mass medium in the same state of development as TV in the 1950's, it begins to feel like an immense opportunity for growth in our technical fields.
Let's just hope, for the sake of our culture, that the Public Web develops as fruitfully as Public TV and not along the lines of some of the other TV networks with their crass commercialism. Finding the balance between art and commerce is the challenge at the intersection of Madison Avenue and C++.
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