NEW YORK — Against a backdrop of the industry’s continued woes, DoubleClick
chief executive Kevin Ryan
mostly avoided discussion of the problems affecting Web advertising in his keynote address at this
year’s @d:Tech conference, and instead recounted how far the space has come.
“During the last two years, people have had trouble separating out stock price from … what’s
underlying,” he said. “More people are coming online every day. More people are shopping online
every day. And more people are being influenced.”
“In 1995 and 1996, I saw that it would be a colossal industry, but most people didn’t get it.
And I thought ‘that’s fantastic.’ [Today,] I feel it’s an opportunity to build marketshare … to
carry us through the next five years. It’s going to be so much more significant in the next five
to 10 years.”
Ryan pointed to the development of television, suggesting that concerns during the 1930s about
the emerging medium’s viability mirrored those facing Web advertising. Comparing it to the way
that television eventually evolved to be the dominant branding medium, Ryan described Web
advertising evolving from the banner ad to more compelling rich media ads, like “takeover” units.
But Ryan added that Web advertising wasn’t just mirroring television’s development — it’s
surpassing it. For instance, he said 100 million users clicked on DoubleClick ads during the past
“There is no other media that can say I delivered 100 million users to an advertisers — that’s
one-third of the online population,” he said.
Ryan also cited e-mail as an underappreciated center of growth, with “much more significant an
impact than anyone believes.”
“It’s not so much in the form of pure ads — it’s mostly contact with existing customers,” he
said. “But spending is colossal … because it’s working.”
Still, he said e-mail marketing also is going through a transitional phase — one that requires
the industry to come to terms with growing pains, like spam.
“It’s evil and something that sets back the industry,” he said. “With all the junk out there,
spam decreases your willingness to open something that works.”
Additionally, Ryan said marketers are slow to realize e-mail’s effectiveness as a replacement
for direct mail — and thus, are rarely pushing the medium’s envelope.
“For the vast majority of [advertisers], it’s still baby steps,” he said. “For [offline]
catalogs, there can be a hundred different mailings, a hundred different drops … so e-mail is
clearly still at an early stage.”
However, Ryan said overall that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
“People would love to have the problems we do,” he said, pointing to declines in television
usage since the advent of the Internet. “People love our product, and we’re undercharging them.”
Indeed, Ryan singled out only a handful of factors hindering the space’s growth, with the difficulty and cost of implementing Web buys being one of the few.
“The time it takes is setting the industry back,” he said. “If you want to buy … say, time
on Friends, it’s like a 20-minute conversation. Online, you go to one Web site and there
are a hundred different configurations. It’s going to be simplified by technology, through
changes in process, and through standards … but the fundamentals are there.”