Online industry leaders duke it out over the future: OnMedia show

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The state of online advertising is debatable. At least that's the idea the audience was left with after a panel addressed the topic at AlwaysOn OnMedia's NYC show today.

Brian Wieser, SVP of Magna Global, a marketing and advertising consulting firm, stirred the pot with a keynote that claimed traditional media is still the way for large brands that are looking to reach a mass audience to communicate. He even went as far as to say that large brands should not waste their time advertising online.

“The largest advertisers need everybody,” he said. “One of the challenges for big brand advertisers is to determine the impact of smaller channels versus the noise of traditional media.”

This kind of attitude sparked debate among panelists such as David Moore, founder/chairman of 24/7 Real Media and Frank Addante, founder/CEO of the Rubicon Project, both of whose businesses are based on connecting advertisers and publishers to serve ads online to consumers.

“There is no marketer that is not appropriate for the Web,” Moore countered.  “Other than those selling guns and drugs.”

And while Addante and Jeff Lanctot, chief strategy officer at Razorfish, admitted there are challenges for ad networks such as an excess of supply in impressions and the fragmentation of ad networks, both felt that there was great benefit for marketers to use the Internet to reach a broader audience.

“You need to provide advertisers with an audience and with a safe way to reach that audience,” Addante said.

"Coca Cola has been spending more online, and it makes a difference in their media mix," Lanctot offered.

While there was disagreement among panel members over how big brands should reach a target audience, almost everyone agreed the consumer should be accounted for.

“We, as an industry, need to better define who our audience is instead of looking at what the value of an impression is,” said Mike Afergan, SVP advertising business solutions and CTO at Akamai. “But with the metrics and analytics built in, online offers a quantitative shift and tighter ROI.”

And, as for the potential for online, most panelists agreed that despite the poor economic climate, online advertising has a long way to go. And the evolution of channels such as online video will help facilitate this growth.

“While a banner ad may not be as emotional as a Super Bowl commercial, there is great potential in online video to help address this connection,” Addante said.

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