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Matthew Wise, CEO, Q Interactive

Matthew WiseMatthew Wise's world just got a lot hotter, and we don't mean the recent heat wave that swept a swath of North America last week.

Last month, he was appointed president and CEO of Q Interactive, after two years in his role as SVP of marketing for the interactive marketing firm based in Chicago.

With a background that includes stints with Draft, the largest direct marketing and promotions agency in the United States and Classified Ventures, an e-commerce company that runs Apartments.com, Cars.com, Homescape and co-branded solutions for 140 newspapers, he's got a nose for new media marketing.

We decided to instead pick his brain about whether the hottest next big things on the Web are actually selling with online advertisers. Excerpts from the chat follow.

Q: So let's start big. What's really selling in the online ad world?

The sheer dollar volume of online ads is one thing. When the online ad spend is at $12 billion [in 2005], it's clearly established itself as a primary medium. For ad buyers, you've got to put it into your mix.

The other thing that really should not be overlooked is the growth in e-commerce. Most people don't connect the two. There is so much value being passed through in e commerce transactions online. The mentality of the consumer is changing: it's a defined place to shop and purchase things. So your ability to influence at the time of the purchase becomes even better.

But in general, the trends are a continuation of what we've been seeing for some time as more ad money migrates to the Web and media matures. It's a continual flow from offline to online, with more rich media. But I think the one difference we're seeing this year is that money is aligning with online media in smarter and better ways.

So some advertising vehicles that sounded like a good idea a while ago, such as banner ads, are giving way to better versions of online ad buys: lead generation, rich media and some of the more cutting edge content with podcasting, for example.

Other macro trends include the growth of lead generation. For example, I've seen stats that show that online lead generation accounted for 6 percent of the $12.5 billion total Internet ad revenue for 2005. That's about $750 million. It's growing in many categories.

According to the IAB-PriceWaterhouseCoopers Internet Advertising Revenue Report, online lead generation grew by 66.7 percent from 2004 and 2005.

Q: That's good news for a firm that specializes in this, right?

We do that, such as TrueLeads, an online lead generation service, and targeted e-mail. But we're about helping advertisers monetize their site visitors and permission-based e-mail lists.

Q: What's your take on advertising in podcasts?

I don't think anyone's found a clear monetization path in podcasts yet. However, given the volume of MP3 players and the success of iTunes and the growth of podcasts as mass media, that's where we're seeing advertisers look. It's a small screen in a mobile environment, but iPods [and media players] are now becoming a ubiquitous vehicle you can use to market to users. They're widespread enough.

Q: How might that work?

You could give an update to what happened on last night's episode of "Lost" and stick a commercial inside of that. The consumer might be willing to listen to a small blurb in return for the content. As video increasingly moves on to the iPod, all of a sudden you've got rich media to work with, and then converting TV advertising for the smaller screens.

As for monetizing it, we're seeing different ideas, but it's looking more like a cost per listen model, which is like the traditional broadcast method. It assumes that a percentage who downloaded the file actually listened to it.

You know, I think we overcomplicate the Internet. The same basic concepts apply. There's a brand, and an impression. Once you get the message, you've got an opportunity to market in a fruitful manner, such as with lead generation. Same with podcasting, if you can find something contextually relevant.

Q: What's your take on the appeal of blogs with advertisers? Many of them have niche audiences, for example.

Well, when you're thinking of where to advertise, it's where people gather and find time to interact with your message. We are creating new environments in which to create advertising that way. And like social networking sites, the blogosphere has a great amount of user-generated content.

I think there is a lot to be said about the blogs that are the influencers. You've got people at the cutting edge reading and posting to those. So it's about finding the right type of advertising for those. It is interesting and it is something they're trying. The one obvious difference with user-generated content is that they can of course put whatever they want up, and up next to a brand. As far as using it as a mass medium, you run the risk that posters will write something about the products.

It's like the Myspace.com question. Some ads probably wouldn't work on Myspace.com. Then again, some advertisers are not interested in marketing to Lollapalooza festivals. Some are.