Back to the USA: Reclaiming the American Banner - AJ Vernet

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Cover image for  article: Back to the USA: Reclaiming the American Banner - AJ Vernet

Web banners. Let's be honest: who ever clicks a banner -- even the best of them -- on purpose? But, there they are -- sparkling sponsor decals on the stock car that is every website today. They represent the bulk of quick hits that live as part of seemingly every media plan. Many a planner have deemed banners an appropriate placement to get the market's attention. It's a multi-billion dollar industry too. There's even been talk of late about a Display Renaissance – with the proliferation of bolder ad units like the IAB Rising Stars; the rise of RTB inventory for display; and new developments such as native advertising.More power to the believers. Evangelizing the power of display media is their job, not ours. We pick up where they leave off. And it turns out that's a great place to be right now.

You see, teams like mine build banners. We like to think we build them well. But most importantly, we build them all in the US of A. Hell, I myself build lots of them, so I am glad that as a product of my shop, they aren't going anywhere. Well, wait – sometimes they do go somewhere. Before they make it to the consumer, a bunch of them are shipped overseas for assembly. Out -- of the USA -- sourced.

Hey Romney! What about these manufacturing jobs?

Hey Obama! What about the importance of Made in America?

This type of work may be off the radar of that particular political scuffle, in any case, hopefully dying down a bit this morning, as the nation gets back to business. But it's always on mine. If you haven't been told already, I'll be the first to proclaim: "American banners are back!" And, unlike the automobile argument, the domestic production force makes them better.

Looking Back on the Trend

In a global economy, companies looking to cut production costs, reduce staff, and bring down overhead have historically, for the past decade or so, eventually have fallen victim to the Pennysaver-esque ads of overseas solutions. Like a moth to flame, they found the cheap solution without thinking it through. In fact, it seems like many facets of an economy have been on this cycle -- finding an inexpensive solution that might get the job done and hastily executing it. But under the harsh light of reality, that shortcut clearly unveils the actual value of time, communication, and even time-zone differences.

Another misperception about digital has driven this trend over recent years. And that was: digital development seemed like an assembly line manufacturing job to some. But, with a closer look, most of us have realized that digital development is clearly not cut out for long distance outsourcing. One could argue that there are exceptions, but we are finding this to be the rule. Unlike tangible goods -- shoes, electronics, kitchen gadgets – the digital "assembly line" is ultra-fast.

It's all digital!

We email comps, URLs for review, feedback, changes, approved, and done. This assembly line doesn't have time for different time zones, miscommunication, and in some cases cultural misinterpretations. It knows what time it is: time to get real about the domestic opportunity and how to make the most of it.

Embracing the American Banner Reality Here are some tips to keep your display costs down – and keep efficient while operating domestically.

VOLUME -- Bulk is always a factor to get pricing efficiencies. I'm sometimes surprised that more businesses don't analyze the types of things they produce over a given period of time and try to commit that volume to one place for better costs. There's a reason Costco exists. Same products, but better bulk pricing.

COMMITMENT -- If you've been in business for a few years, it's likely that you have a rough idea of what types of projects you have on deck and how many you work on over the course of a quarter, six months, and so on. Even if estimates are conservative, it's likely that you'll find partners that appreciate your commitment to them and are willing to sit down, find the right numbers, scheduling the work over the horizon, to leverage a more long-term commitment of business.

COMMUNICATION -- Language barriers are the easy target for this one. I probably don't even need to delve into it. Communication between two people, let alone two companies with multiple touch points, can take time to develop. My wife and I both speak the English, but we are constantly working on our "differences." The more the companies can work on communication, the more effectively they can work together -- and, that's a two-way street. Being conscientious of communication habits helps everyone.

TIME -- Productions are on typical schedules: start dates, live dates, and review dates. Banners tend to be on the simpler end of production, but that should not be taken for granted. Since they are a little easier, we often put ourselves on tighter timelines. Therefore, margin for confusion (especially with volume), is small. We don't have time to repeat ourselves or misunderstand feedback. Hitting the production ball back and forth across time zones only fuels the time argument. We say "time is money" all the time, but unfortunately, it takes an overseas production to "feel" the harsh meaning of that statement.

When it comes down to it, determining your volume and finding the right partner to make and engage on these commitments can drastically reduce your project costs -- right in front of you, on the estimate.

With labor cost inflation rising around the world but not yet at home, digital development might still seem like an assembly line manufacturing job in the modern world. But, after years of working on banners and other digital production projects, it's clear to those who have wised up that the same efficiencies originally credited to outsourcing overseas can instead be gained by getting your act together locally, right here, right now, at home. There's never been a better time for American Banners. Especially – you guessed it – considering there's a Display Renaissance afoot. And in this business, we are nothing if not forward.

AJ Vernet is Founder and CEO of Rey Interactive, which is a Los Angeles and New York based digital and video production company positioned to partner with agencies, creative firms, publishers and brands as a scalable and seamless production resource. AJ can be reached at aj@reyinteractive.com.

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