Ten years ago, in an attempt to establish differentiation from traditional media that seemed to have the market cornered on brand-building, an upstart digital industry ponied up on the deliverables of performance and measurement. As a short term strategic decision that decision seemed like a genuine revelation. Here was a medium, after all, that was designed to be interacted with.

In ways that were impossible when watching a TV spot or driving by a billboard every day, a user could now indicate his or her favorable perception of an advertisement by actually touching (we called it 'clicking') it. With Digital, marketers didn't have guess at a campaign's effectiveness. It could now be measured. And in buying into its own hype, the industry seemed to say, "Leave branding to conventional mediums, but if you want metrics, I'm your guy!"

But 10 years later, in a landscape that has preached the gospel of online scale and metrics from its birth, the future of digital advertising may actually rely, ironically, on its ability to pull off a skillful branding (or re-branding) maneuver....convincing marketers that the industry's true killer apps are unique brand engagement and brand experience opportunities.

So the question is, "How do we (the industry) turn the corner on how we pitch ourselves when marketers are trained to think of as an after-thought to their core commitment of building brand affinity?" At CPX Interactive, we believe that the only real answer is to start the conversation in as many different venues and in front of as many different audiences as possible.

That is precisely why we have worked to spread the word through our own industry thought leadership panel/event series called Strategy is the New Creative, to push the conversation envelope about what digital is actually capable of.

It is, in fact, a conversation that is getting some traction. We were happy to see the IAB take its own turn at the topic in its recent InnovationDays event. In his coverage of the event, Chris Hosford (of www.btobonline.com) quoted Interactive Advertising Bureau as President-CEO Randall Rothenberg urging advertisers and agencies to "...develop more strategic, creative campaigns for the digital world, to steer digital advertising away from direct response campaigns and toward a branding model."

The bottom line is that the digital space offer BOTH unparalleled metric measurement AND cutting edge branding opportunities that have barely begun to be realized.

David Shay is the EVP of Marketing for CPX Interactive, a global online ad network. David came to the world of online advertising after a career as a practicing attorney. He joined the CPX team as the 13th employee in 2006. David can be reached at dshay@cpxinteractive.com.

Read all David's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at CPX Interactive.

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