IAB Road Show More Pitch Than Data

NEW YORK — If anyone needs training on how to sell online media to other organizations and to co-workers and superiors within their own, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is apparently more than willing to provide it.

The online advertising trade group began its Cross Media Optimization Study Road Show here yesterday with presentations that evangelized online advertising's effectiveness more than they quantified it.

However, the 200 or so ad and marketing executives attending the event at the Four Seasons on 57th Street in Manhattan seemed receptive.

The Cross Media Optimization Study is a 2 1/2- to 3-year project aimed at convincing marketers and advertisers that media plans that include online advertising are more effective than those that don't.

But a presentation of the most recent part of the study involving Colgate Palmolive's Colgate Total Toothpaste was more about getting buy-in within the organization than it was about the results of the study.

“We who do this need to be champions [within organizations],” said Jack Haber, vice president, e-business, Colgate-Palmolive.

Still, the study determined that when Colgate-Palmolive allocated 7 percent of its media dollars online, purchase intent rose 3.8 percent, or 9 percent over a plan that used television and print alone. Moreover, by raising online advertising's allocation to 11 percent, purchase intent rose to 4.3 percent, or 20 percent over a plan that used only TV and print, the study said.

The study also claims it cost Colgate 23 percent more to encourage consumers to buy using television alone than in combination with online media.

“In summary, the medium works for us. It sells toothpaste,” Haber said.

Besides Colgate, study participants have included Unilever, McDonalds and Kimberly-Clark. Results from those studies are available at IAB.net. The IAB is also in the midst of a study with financial services marketer ING, the results of which should be available at the end of the summer.

Studies involving Universal Studios and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca reportedly are on deck. The IAB claims it is close to getting two automotive companies to participate, and that it is talking with companies in 10 to 12 other categories including travel, business-to-business and media.

Meanwhile, presenters yesterday used the words “persistence” and “patience” repeatedly when referring to making the case for Internet advertising, and questions from the audience seemed aimed at getting ammunition to take back to work.

“A bunch of these marketers have been through the fire and have dealt with a resistance to change in their organizations,” said attendee Geoff Ramsey, president of research aggregator eMarketer, New York, in a post-event interview.

Referring to the dot-com implosion and resulting backlash, Ramsey said a lot of Internet advertising's survivors until recently held the mistaken belief that data alone would change negative perceptions surrounding their medium. Now, they're seeing a need to evangelize, he added.

“Clearly, these marketers believe,” he said. Questions remain, however, over whether the study's results apply to other marketers.

“There are so many variables floating around here: creative, the type of ad unit, the Web sites,” Ramsey said. “At the end of the day, do you really know what was driving your results?”

Moreover, as big brands buy into the Internet's accountability, like many advertising executives, Ramsey predicts that accountability backlash may spread to television.

“This raises the bar for all media,” he said.

In the next two weeks, the IAB's road show will hit Chicago; Boston; Morristown, NJ; San Francisco; Los Angeles and Atlanta.

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