08/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Interpublic Separates the Forest from the Trees

After sounding off in this space recently about the myriad descriptions we have for online advertising ("What the heck is display advertising anyway? And who cares?") it's good to note that Interpublic's Magna business unit is trying to bucket things along more sensible lines. Per the story in MediaPost, Interpublic is proposing we regard online adverting as follows:

1. Total Direct Response-based advertising, which includes search, lead generation and yellow pages.

2. National Digital/Online advertising, which includes rich media, online video, classifieds, emails, display and mobile

3. Local Digital/Online, which includes revenues from local TV, Radio and newspapers.

It's not clear, but I assume Local Digital/Online is inclusive of all the advertising formats detailed in National Digital/Online.

The sensible nature of Interpublic's initiative is the desire to catalog spending by marketing objective, not creative format, or application. It is to try and see the whole of the online picture, not just the parts. The creative toolbox available to advertisers online is wonderfully diverse versus other media, but it is not the tools that should determine the job for marketers, as in "Should we use widgets? Why aren't we using widgets? I want to see some widget uses!" So, it is almost impossible to see the big picture in terms of value versus other media by concentrating on what's in the box. Interpublic's break-out response to ad spend measurement may help us lift our gaze.