The IAB’s Peter Minnium on Creating a New Middle Class for Rich Media

Peter Minnium is the Head of Brand Initiatives at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). Previously he spent about 12 years at Lowe Worlwide and also worked at other well-known agencies, including Dentsu Y&R and N.W. Ayer. We recently spoke with Peter about his current role and various IAB initiatives.

The Makegood: Peter, you had a distinguished career at as Managing Director at Lowe Worldwide. Can you talk a bit about that experience and how it shaped your international view on advertising?

PM: When I started in advertising, it was clear to me that the most important driver of change in the marketing and advertising world was going to be globalization, and so I pursued that area hard to be “where the action is.” In fact, I thought globalization was going to be THE key driver of change during my working career.  Well, this little thing called the internet came along and first equaled, then surpassed, globalization as THE key driver. It took me a few years to catch on, but in 2009, when I finally got it, I jumped ship from the traditional ad world into the interactive one.  In a way, the challenges are fundamentally similar: as an internationalist, I was focused on moving creative ideas across borders and now the challenge is moving creative ideas across platforms.

The Makegood: After Lowe you landed at the IAB and took up the cause of modernizing the online display advertising landscape. What was your motivation for launching that initiative?

PM: I joined the IAB to help the industry capture its fair share of brand advertising dollars and, to tell you the truth, I was horrified at what I found. The industry was so uncompetitive with offline media in terms of creative canvasses that it was almost comical. Imagine going into a brand advertiser pitching against TV—they say “with us, you get the whole screen and sight, sound, and motion for :30 seconds” and then we come in and say “I can give you 1/15th of the screen adjacent to a very, very, very crowded page environment.”  I wondered how the industry had the guts to even ask for the order—until we got our ad products more competitive. This was the goal of the Display Rising Stars program.

The Makegood: What has been the result of the Rising Stars Display initiative to date?

The six Rising Stars are proving themselves in the market in terms of the all-important post-click engagement measures. We will announce at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in February of 2012 that they (or a subset) have become official IAB ad units—and then we are off to the races.  Our goal is to create a new middle class of rich media units that sits between the custom ads (currently well under 10% of impressions) and the standard banners (regrettably, 90+% of impressions).

The Makegood: You recently created a similar Rising Stars initiative for mobile advertising. Can you provide some details on that competition? 

PM: For us, mobile includes handhelds and tablets. Given this, the competition is fascinating.  Clearly, the future of display advertising is being born today on the tablet. We are at early stages, but the amount of R&D going into tablet ad experiences is substantial and we should see the results of this in the market in 2012.  In many ways, we are working to change old habits in desktop advertising and it is hard to get viewers to understand that we are changing. On tablets and handhelds, we have a clean slate to start from and no baggage.  If you care about the future of interactive advertising, I advise you to become a keen student of the tablet experience!

The Makegood: Thanks, Peter.