Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category


Jan

13

Excitement around the mobile web was palpable at 2012 International CES. While consumer electronics hardware and product launches dominate headlines, CES has quietly become a must-attend event for digital media and marketing professionals, many of whom were in attendance this year for the first time.

With dozens of sessions on mobile content and marketing at Digital Hollywood and other CES conference tracks, the Las Vegas Convention Center was abuzz with discussions about delivering quality mobile experiences to consumers while efficiently capitalizing on the channel for marketers.

What follows is a summary of insights from some of the best minds in mobile content and marketing who appeared on panels I attended throughout CES.

“Mobile technology is enabling an important and disruptive transition in content distribution, and interactivity, as content becomes aware of users and consumers have a greater ability to interact on multiple devices and from any location,” said Jeff Demian, research strategy and business development director at Intel Labs.

Creating contiguous experiences and measuring behavior were recurring themes throughout the week, as marketers prepare for the onslaught of a multi-screen universe and the need to create compelling, tightly integrated content while catering to the unique characteristics of each platform and device.

Content and Revenue

Saul Berman, global strategy and change leader at IBM spoke about the consumer experience needing to be additive, and in so doing, how it forces the “devaluation and revaluation of content.” In other words, changes in distribution and payment models may result in less revenue per eyeball in the short-term, but leveraged across an entire publishing enterprise, can become an even more valuable asset over time.

Murray Solomon, vice president, digital business development at Time Inc. validated Berman’s assertion, saying early indicators suggest its all-access model of providing both print and digital versions of its 21 publications at a single subscription price is paying off. Bryan Moffett, vice president, digital strategy and sponsorship operations at National Public Media noted how more than 100 million streams of PBS Kids content on the iPad didn’t cannibalize its web streams, and that with ten to 20 percent click-through rates on the iPad, digital is “leading the conversation and resulting in big radio sales.”

Daniel Tibbets, vice president, digital media, Bunim/Murray Productions, says it’s the quality of content that matters most. “Product decisions need to be made on the basis of what consumers want, and their needs to be treated in a way that is unique to each platform.”

Mobile Advertising

Although today’s banner ad paradigm is understandable, display on mobile won’t be effective for long, as consumers demand a deeper experience. Andrew Maltin, CEO of mobile development studio MEDL Mobile, says ”the most engaging apps are technologically advanced and highly interactive.” Cameron Fiedlander, vice president and director of creative technology at Designkitchen/WPP Group notes “we’re seeing mobile formats evolve into deeper, more socially-driven experiences, making mobile display much less relevant.”

Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile at eBay, points out that “consumers will dismiss ads altogether if they get in the way of their intent to do something else.” The solution is to have better contextual and geo-fencing capabilities. According to Time, Inc.’s Solomon, “there is no reason why an immersive advertising experience with applications is not also possible in the same way which ads are viewed as valuable content to magazine readers.”

Context Matters

While the need to create a great product is always implied, context may be even more important in mobile.

“If content is king, then context is queen,” says Ashley Swartz, senior vice president marketing at Digitas. “Mobility gives content creators the ability to know more about their audience, and to include the audience in unique ways that before now were not possible.”

Consumers want to pick up the experience where they left off on different devices, and marketers need to be ready to accept them at those nonlinear entry points, while at the same time moving them through a story line or a funnel that ultimately results in some desired action.

Lori Schwartz, chief technology catalyst, North America at McCann Erickson says the near future is going to be all about “long-tail narrowcasting and less about broadcasting. “If you can build a community of uber-influencers down that funnel, it’s possible to create micro-franchises around brands.”

The Year of Big Data

Notwithstanding a slew of legal and regulatory concerns, also on the minds of mobile marketers is the use of real-time data and how it can be used to create relevant brand experiences. While panelists were quick to coin phrases like “the year of big data” and “data is the new creative,” few specific solutions were offered.

On the contrary, caution was urged when considering integration of social graph data into applications. Schwartz suggests pulling data from social media APIs into a custom solution a brand can control for its own brand experiences, rather than integrating in ways that could leave brands vulnerable to the decisions of social media platforms in the long run.

Martez Moore, executive vice president, digital media at BET Networks, says media and brands “need to be very thoughtful about how to integrate third party data that could potentially cannibalize their CPMs were providers to leverage that data too.” Instead, Martez says BET uses social to market, promote and engage traffic, which results in the ability to sell ads at a premium around shows like 106 & Park.

Production Trends

From the production standpoint, the industry is embracing HTML5 as a baseline when developing across platforms, but recognizes there are still gaps in functionality that must be addressed. In the meantime, hybrid approaches are emerging and native apps for iOS and Android are still best when it comes to creating feature rich experiences. While some, like eBay, still develop for Blackberry, Sol Lipman, senior director, mobile at AOL says the BlackBerry PlayBook has “fallen off a cliff statistically for AOL.”

On the issue of whether to develop on multiple platforms concurrently, Lindsey Turrentine, editor in chief, CNET Reviews, points out “these are difficult choices and you have to be very smart about how to proceed. We started with iOS Native hybrid HTML5 approach.”

Swartz suggests building with an eye toward reach and ubiquity, but to do so with a dose of pragmatism. “It’s expensive to develop and promote an app in a world where 60 percent will open it once and never go back, and where app discovery is still an issue for lesser known brands.”

Strong distinctions are also being drawn between developing for mobile phones and tablets, with several describing the iPad as the more engaging experience. Chrisophe Gillet, product manager at Fanhattan, describes mobile as “a start and stop experience,” where users get the information they need and then put their device away,” whereas tablets “have become more of a companion device due to their more comfortable form factor.”

Mandar Shinde, director, mobile monetization at AOL also sees tablet co-browsing as a big phenomenon, citing 50 percent more browsing traffic in the evenings, presumably while consumers are also watching television. The complexity and lack of tools for accurately tracking the integrated viewer behavior across devices was also raised as an issue yet to be resolved.

Growth Through Collaboration

Top of mind for agency executives has been improved collaboration and breaking down silos that prevent marketers from achieving their goals and giving consumers the best of what the medium has to offer. “We’ve been living in the construct of television versus digital for too long,” says Schwarz. It would be a mistake to cannibalize television for digital. We need to look at it more holistically.”

So how do we do we get there? Alexandre Mars, CEO, Phonevalley and head of mobile at Publicis Group suggests all of the agency stakeholders – creative, digital, media and mobile – need to be part of the conversation. Only then will everyone get the budgets required to achieve the goals of marketers and to create more powerful experiences for marketers.

Yahav Isak senior vice president, project management at Digitas Health, says “everything is digital — it’s really more about understanding the different channels of digital marketing and how they can best be integrated.”

According to Tibbets, “the only thing we are limited by is bandwidth and our imagination to create amazing immersive experiences.”

 

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Posted in Advertising, Conferences, Content, Data, Entertainment, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Mobile, Social Media, Technology


Oct

27

Warrior-Preneur Ann EvanstonOne of the joys of independent consulting is the opportunity to learn from a wide range of companies and the many solutions providers who stand ready to serve them. For startup CanaryVoice, we identified that social media savvy moms are likely to embrace its unique voicemail greetings service, leading us to explore the “momosphere” and participation in the BLP CONNECT! conference where “warrior-preneur” and marketing consultant Ann Evanston gave an inspiring keynote on “The Power of Connecting.”

Her request for audience feedback on the meaning of “connection” elicited a wide range of responses, including: growing relationships, personal converstions, face-to-face meetings, follow-up, support, cameraderie, resources, interest and attention. According to Evanston, connection means “creating an energy that draws people to you.” Pull not push marketing. Inbound, not outbound marketing. Energetically, YOU are what creates your brand, which is distinctly unique from the product you sell. YOU make your brand unique and special, and as such you can program marketing activities to create an energy that attracts customers to your brand.

While the emphasis of Evanston’s talk was geared toward an audience of women entrepreneurs and guiding their use of social media, every marketer can benefit from thinking more about ways to energize and connect with their audiences, no matter what the product or the size of the marketing budget. If the word for 2010 was “authentic” and in 2011 we are talking about being “transparent,” the word for 2012 will be to “humanize” your brand, according to Evanston.

So how do you go about humanizing, connecting and energizing your brand? Here were my take-aways from Evanston’s motivating talk:

1) Create polarity in your marketing. Ho-hum marketing is average and safe — be brave, be memorable and be yourself!

2) Understand that multiple “buying types” exist and that you need to appeal to all of them while being ready to refine your pitch once you determine which buying type you are dealing with. Diversify how you connect by creating different ways to tell your story.

3) Think with abundance, not in scarcity mode. Doing so will help you attract like-minded people who want to do business with you. You will create connections you never thought possible, that will lead to an even greater number of customers, referral partners and promotion opportunities.

4) Let go of the fear. Fear of success, fear of the money you can really make, fear of polarity, fear of that first Tweet. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the things done you need to do to drive your business forward.

5) Create a step-by-step plan comprised of systems and processes that develop revenue…and, of course, give Ann a call to help!

There is nothing more powerful than the energetic connections an entrepreneur can make when she tells her story with authenticity, honesty and fearlessness. Whether it’s in a selling situation, a speech or social media marketing, let go of the fears that are holding you back. There is a world of partners, customers and advocates out there just waiting for you to make powerful connections that will help you grow your business.

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Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Brand Marketing, Conferences, Events, Internet, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media


Jul

21

Every marketing tactic has unique properties that influence the value that can be assigned relative to its cost. Whereas Part I addressed ROI on a macro level, this post focuses on how to value the most common marketing and communication programs on their individual merits.

Online Advertising
Even though display advertising can and should be measured through to a conversion (easy to do in Salesforce), expectations for clicks should be within those of industry averages (.2-.5%), with even lower expectations set on driving leads. The possible exceptions would include programs specifically geared toward capturing contact information prior to authorizing the download of a research paper or other thought leadership piece.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)
Clicks (eCPC)
Leads (eCPL) – may include leads attributed to the campaign that did not come from a click
Sales (eCPA)

Benchmarks: Compare CTR against industry averages and past campaigns to reflect engagement
Compare CPM against other publications with comparable audience reach/composition
Compare lift in awareness against competitors (third party) during the flight periods

Recommend: Track site visitors and associated leads by traffic source

Print Advertising
Print advertising, while more expensive and less measurable than online ads, should be considered in any ROI analysis. Measuring the impact of print ads can be accomplished with a specific call to action or program (custom landing page, guarantee, contest, promotion, etc.), but its effectiveness is more often relegated to the level of confidence management has in a publication’s ability to reach a qualified audience.

If not centered around a specific promotion or product launch, investment in trade publications is best kept to special issues tied to your industry, which is often tied to a specific industry event.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)

Benchmarks: Compare CPM against other trade pubs with comparable audience reach and composition
Compare lift in awareness of the company during the flight periods

Recommend: Create CRM lead source for “print advertising” and train Sales to associate related opportunities

Paid Search (SEM)
Search engine marketing serves both awareness and a demand generation objectives. However, paid search will always drive some number of unqualified leads and a process must be devised to manage them without becoming a distraction for Sales. While sometimes a nuisance, the value of SEM for awareness, as a defensive measure against competitors’ efforts and the occasional opportunity to land a substantial new client make paid search worthwhile to continue testing and measuring for its effectiveness.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)
Clicks (eCPC)
Leads (eCPL)
Sales (eCPA)

Benchmarks: eCPL against past SEM campaigns
eCPA against total ad spend

Recommend: Track site visitors and associated leads by traffic source.

Event Sponsorship
Regional and vertical event sponsorship can create great awareness and meaningful interaction with qualified prospects. While practically speaking there will always be impressions made and conversations had that will be impossible to track, Marketing must develop a process for entering information from business cards obtained at events into the CRM system.

For this to work optimally, sales leadership must take a proactive role in ensuring opportunities from events are captured as thoroughly and accurately as possible. For example, a conversation with a former client where no business cards are traded but it results in securing an RFP needs to somehow be attributed to participation in the event. Or when a lead captured at an event gets passed from one rep to another it needs to be entered accordingly.

Key metrics: Potential audience – Reach/Frequency of the event’s advance promotion efforts
Actual audience – How many people attended the event?
Share of Voice – How well were we “heard” at the event?
Conversations – How many people did we “touch” during the event?
Leads – How many new contacts/leads were put into the CRM system (eCPL)?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Survey company representatives afterward to compare against other sponsored events
Compare revenue between regional event investments (holds regional sales reps accountable)
Compare revenue between vertical event investments
Compare regional events to effectiveness of vertical events

Recommend: Create a lead source option in CRM for each sponsored event and track qualified
leads/opportunities accordingly

Hosted Events
Investment in a company’s own custom events arguably attract a more highly qualified audience because the invited guests are its most important clients and prospects. For this reason, it is less likely new business cards will be obtained for entry into the CRM and it will be more difficult for Marketing to measure the effectiveness without direct input from Sales about new opportunities obtained as a result of client interactions during or immediately following the event.

Key metrics: Potential audience – How many people did we reach with the invitation (Sales must help)
Actual audience – How many people attended the event?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Survey company representatives after each event to compare against all sponsored events
Compare revenue derived from our own events against each other

Recommend: Create a lead source option in CRM for each sponsored event and track qualified
leads/opportunities accordingly

Webinars/Conference Calls/Podcasts
Webinars can be used for a combination of awareness, thought leadership and lead generation. Similar to custom events, webinars generate a highly qualified audience since the company typically controls the guest list. Although costs increase when partnering with another entity, so does the size and potential to reach new prospective clients. Unlike live events, it is much easier to track the effectiveness based on the number of people who register and attend the event.

Key metrics: Potential audience – How many people were invited to the webinar?
Registrations – How many people signed up to attend the webinar?
Attendees – How many people actually attended the webinar?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Compare growth in attendance over each webinar
Compare growth in sales over time, including impact of different topics or marketing partners

Recommend: Import event registration information into CRM and track leads accordingly

Conference Speaking Opportunities
Part event marketing and part public relations, speaking at conferences cannot be overlooked for its value in the marketing mix. The challenge with measuring speaking opportunities is that we often have no way of knowing the actions taken by audience members who were positively influenced by something our executive says on stage. If the speaker interacts with a prospective client, their information should be passed to a sales rep and recorded in the CRM, yet this easier said than done since the CEO does not (nor should he be expected to) think about ROI measurement from marketing at this granular level. Therefore, it is beholden on everyone in Sales to be mindful of where every lead comes from and to track it accordingly.

Key Metrics: Number of qualified speaking engagements secured (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Number of leads that can be directly attributed to speaking opportunities

Benchmarks: Number of our speaking opportunities compared to prior period (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Frequency of individual competitors appearing on stage during comparable periods

Recommend: Create a lead source for each event where we speak and track qualified leads accordingly
Hold PR firm accountable for number of speaking opportunities

Public Relations
The ability to consistently secure editorial coverage will build awareness, lift overall industry perception and increase sales as described above. But the more quantifiable metrics are the number of editorial placements, and to a lesser degree the type of placement (mention, roundup, feature, etc.) and how prominently a company is featured therein.

In years past, an accepted measurement of ROI from public relations investments was to calculate the advertising rate for the comparable amount of space secured. Today, systems offered by companies like Vocus, United Business Media and PR Newswire offer monitoring across all media with sophisticated scoring to measure things like:

• Type of media
• Type of coverage – feature story, profile, mention, round-up, etc.
• Quality of coverage –positive, neutral or negative
• Consistency, frequency, message saturation and diversity of coverage
• Share of voice against competitors

Depending upon the size of company and the importance it places on editorial coverage, it may be worth investigating third-party PR monitoring services, but often management is satisfied with simply being mentioned consistently in key trade publications and business press.

To the extent that editorial coverage secured can be directly attributed to a lead or a sale, that information should be captured in the CRM. This can be as simple as adding “editorial coverage” in the lead source field, to indicate when a new opportunity comes from any form of editorial coverage.

Key Metrics: Number of editorial mentions in trade and business press (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Number of leads that can be directly attributed to editorial coverage

Benchmarks: Number of editorial mentions compared to prior period
Number of editorial mentions of competitors in comparable time period

Recommend: Hold PR firm accountable for quantity, scale and frequency of trade media placements
Hold PR firm accountable for number of placements in trade analyst coverage
Create lead source for major editorial coverage and associate web and sales leads accordingly

Social Media
While a social media presence is not always a high priority for B2B marketers, it is advisable to at least maintain a Twitter handle, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn company profile, which need to be updated consistently in order to remain credible. Social media activities are relatively low cost to maintain (an hour or two per day of a junior level marketing staffer or intern). While it may be difficult to directly attribute revenue to the social channel, it is highly measurable in other ways and can be a big driver of awareness and thought leadership.

Key Metrics: Frequency of blog posts, Tweets and LinkedIn and Facebook status updates
Number of Twitter followers and Facebook “Likes”
Traffic to blog page

Benchmarks: Compare by channel to frequency of key competitors’ audience size and frequency of updates

Recommend: Report amount of hours spent and frequency of communication by each social media channel

Website Traffic and Analytics
A company’s website is the transom across which leads that cannot be attributed to a specific program will make their way into the company’s sales process. Monthly or annual benchmarks for traffic and leads should be established, but more importantly just looking at and discussing site analytics can lead to great marketing opportunities.

Key Metrics: Monthly unique visitors
Number of leads via the contact form
Source of traffic and leads

Benchmarks: Compare recent traffic and lead patterns to those immediately following the launch of a new site

Recommend: Monthly reporting of unique visitors and leads

Client Communication
Communicating with clients and prospects via e-mail is relatively easy and inexpensive and a newsletter can drive leads by introducing new products, promoting a hosted event or just serving as a trigger to remind a buyer to include the company on its next RFP. Whether completion of a lead form is tracked from a click or you rely on reps to indicate that a client mentioned having received our email, leads from dedicated mailings and newsletters should be tracked in the CRM whenever possible.

Key Metrics: Size of mailing list and frequency of sending to the list
Email open rate and click rates
Lead forms completed as a result of clicks from within newsletters

Benchmarks: Compare size of mailing list, open rate and CTR trends over comparable periods of time

Recommend: Report on frequency of client communication, open rate and number of leads generated

Product Marketing and Collateral
While not an obvious marketing program expenditure, marketing typically spends an inordinate amount of time on product positioning, differentiation, launch promotions and collateral. For the most ROI-obsessed marketers, a field for “product marketing and collateral” can be created in the CRM as a place for sales reps to track when a particular sales deck, individual piece of collateral or knowledge they obtained from a product specialist resulted in their winning a piece of new business.

Key Metrics: Number of man-hours spent on product marketing related programs
Number of opportunities cited by reps as being the result of product marketing initiatives

Benchmarks: Compare growth of new opportunities from product marketing over comparable time periods

Recommend: Identify a new vertical (Education) or product (Brand-DR Connect) and measure product sales

Instilling ROI Values in the Organization

To avoid the traditional tension between sales and marketing, align their objectives from the beginning under a common value proposition and goal. Marketing can take on planning, implementation and measurement of programs while Sales is recognized as the catalyst for winning deals. Account management (operations) also has a role in retaining customers and increasing their lifetime value.

Avoid Sales not entering leads through training and by making the lead source a required field in the CRM. Sales should also be discouraged to attribute leads to a marketing activity just because they want to “help” Marketing. Incentives should be focused on encouraging an honest assessment of where leads come from and enlisting everyone on the team in tracking our ROI so we can make more intelligent decisions about where to place our marketing dollars based on real experience about what works and what doesn’t.

Summary

Key recommendations for measuring return on investment from marketing can be summarized as including:

• Enlist Marketing in refining metrics and benchmarks and determining specific goals
• Make lead source a required field in the CRM and frequently update lead source picklist
• Enlist PR firm in defending their value for media relations activities and reaffirm goals
• Train Sales about the importance and how to properly account for marketing-related leads
• Regularly analyze deal size by source
• Undertake win/loss analysis to determine LTV measurement

Multiple touch-points with an audience, at varying costs and at varying scale and quality will influence each sale, make it difficult to attribute revenue to any single marketing program. Attempting to create a common unit of measurement or scoring system across programs, while possible in theory, would be a futile effort since integrated marketing by its nature is designed to leverage the combined effect of all programs rather than any individual component.

Although it is useful to understand which marketing programs drive new business most efficiently, and the marketing organization can use the key metrics and benchmarks contained in this report to make future recommendations, ultimately management and investors should be more concerned with the cost to acquire a qualified lead (eCPL) and the most effective rate at which to drive awareness (eCPM).

How we make decisions about future expenditures is dependent on our personal experience, recommendations based on others’ experience and our belief in the audience composition of a particular program as described by sales people presenting new opportunities we may know little about. Sometimes the risk of not participating in a program can be as much a determining factor as there being a high likelihood for something positive to come of the investment. No matter what the program or how it was selected, there is always the need (and likely the ability) to test and verify.

The primary reason for tracking the return on marketing investments is to make better decisions about where to make subsequent investments based on the success of prior decisions. However, there are no guarantees that any investment in marketing will result in acquiring a new client or maintaining an existing one. The metrics, benchmarks and recommendations contained in this post are merely guidelines and observations based on my experience. I would appreciate your feedback, as I continue to understand and share insights on this important topic for B2B marketers.

Return to Measuring ROI from B2B Marketing: Part I

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Posted in Advertising, Brand Marketing, Demand Generation, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Automation, Sales


Apr

15

I’ve been thinking a lot about cause marketing lately, and based on her recent IMPACT post had fully expected Arianna Huffington to touch on the subject during her keynote address at ad:tech San Francisco. What I didn’t anticipate was to hear so much passion and such a commitment to connecting journalism and online advertising to a higher calling for humanity. 

In an inspiring speech that quoted great poets and thinkers, both dead and alive, Ms. Huffington plainly laid out the case for embracing cause marketing, capitalizing on the power of local media and reminding us all of the importance of disconnecting for our own health and productivity.

Just as Shakespeare kept to the formal constraints of the sonnet, she suggested that today we must find ways to use the tools of social media to tap humanity and the noblest part of ourselves. Echoing Guy Kawasaki’s talk the day prior about moving from engagement to enchantment, she encouraged us not to dwell on those things that are disfunctional and suboptimal in our world, but to focus on the what is being born all around us today that allows us to connect at a deeper level than ever before.

As an example of cause marketing, she cited the Chivas Regal “Live with Chivalry” campaign where the value of nobility is used to sell whisky. If marketing and advertising is a leading indicator of what’s happening in our culture, we need to identify its meaning and tap into this large and profound trend.  We are moving to an era when doing good is not just good for humanity, but also good for the bottom line — where it doesn’t just affect our business, it affects our lives.

Expressing disappointment in the mainstream media, she spoke of how they have let us down by not focusing on solutions and placing too much emphasis on what is not working rather than so many things that are. Whereas mainstream media suffers from ADD by only covering a story for a brief time before abandoning it, in digital we have OCD and the ability to cover stories obsessively until there is a solution.

This is made even more powerful when we engage our communities at a local level. Local, she said, will bring together communities at a time when the media is increasingly more disconnected than ever from our lives. All human existence is local, and that’s where people trust what’s going on around them and feel empowered to get things done.

Taking pride in quoting will.i.am and Shakespeare in the same speech, she referenced a comment he made about how in “the olden days” we consumed news on a couch — today we consume it on a galloping horse. Reinforcing this idea at the local level, she spoke about plans to replicate a popular Greatest Person of the Day feature on the Huffington Post by creating the Greatest Person of the week throughout Patch sites in more then 800 cities. We are longing to connect with each other as human beings at the same time there is a greater explosion of everything life, and that’s why AOL is betting on local.

Finally, she spoke about the need to disconnect from our hyperconnected existence and to unplug and recharge. We can start by simply getting enough sleep and cited “overwhelming medical evidence” about how essential it is for our health and our creativity — likely a tough concept for the always-connected ad:tech crowd.

In closing she cited third century Greek philosopher Plotinus and his teaching about knowledge, wisdom and creativity. And knowledge has three degrees: opinion, science and illumination. The Internet has addressed opinion and science, but not illumination. Many of the leaders running our government, media and financial institutions have very high IQs and access to all of the data and information in the world. What they are missing is illumination, which is ultimately about wisdom.

“My crystal ball sees more explosive wonder, combustible energy to more truth, transparency wisdom, enchantment…and much more digital advertising!”

The entire speech is available online here:

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Posted in Advertising, Cause Marketing, Community, Conferences, Integrated Marketing, Internet, Philanthropy, Social Media


Sep

24

comscore logoThis week comScore and ValueClick Media released a white paper I co-authored titled “When Money Moves to Digital, Where Should It Go? Identifying the right media-placement strategies for digital display.”  The study was based on over 100 campaigns run on the ValueClick Media network and used comScore’s Action Lift reporting methodology to evaluate the impact of various display placement and pricing strategies on site visitation and search behavior .

                       Read the press release.                        Download the paper.

While cross-media and search vs. display has been studied previously, to our knowledge this is the first quantitative analysis of the view-through effectiveness of various display placement strategies (Audience Targeting, Contextual Targeting, Retargeting) and pricing options (Premium/CPM, Efficiency/CPC). And while the study is by no means exhaustive, and may even raise more questions than it answers, it validates the efficacy of display advertising and provides direction on which placement strategies to deploy to drive advertiser performance, whether measured by brand or direct response metrics.

Here are a few of the key findings:

  • Retargeting works extremely well and should be considered for both direct response and branding initiatives
  • Some placements create new traffic while others find audiences that are already engaged with the subject
  • Marketers in different industries take advantage of the strategies differently
  • All multi-strategy marketers increased site visitation above the norm
  • Advertisers who used three or more placement strategies tended to have one metric in which they disproportionately beat the norm

While the study was exclusively on placements across the ValueClick Media network, it was not sponsored research, but rather done in partnership with comScore. Regardless, the campaigns were all sold and delivered on a single network, so a different network or analysis across an entire campaign may have shown different results.

That said, the data tells an interesting story about ValueClick Media. Most surprising to me was the lift, however small, driven by the RON baseline, something we attribute to the impact data and optimization is increasingly having on the ability to predict the performance of every impression — a huge validation of our technology. Contextual pricing probably skewed high due to inclusion of campaigns run on our more exclusive vertical networks. And the data suggests we just may be undervaluing our audience targeting and retargeting inventory.

Laurie Sullivan did a great job of recapping the results of the paper in her MediaPost article published today. I will be presenting the research with Anne Hunter on Tuesday at the IAB MIXX conference in NY. Our workshop is up against sponsored content from Google/AdMob, Yahoo! and AOL, so I’m eager to see what audience we attract. Whoever comes, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone during Advertising Week in NY!

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Posted in Ad networks, Advertising, Behavioral Targeting, Display Advertising, Marketing, Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Research


Jul

24

CaptureRarely does a panel discussion achieve an optimal mix of education, entertainment and controversy the way the Fixing Advertising session did on Monday night in Los Angeles. The education series, sponsored by Dapper, has now made its way to every major U.S. media market in an effort to not only make sense of the fragmented display advertising landscape, but to actually do something about it. Bravo!

Credit for the effective cadence and tone of the session goes to Pete Kim, General Manager of Yahoo! SmartAds, who clearly being qualified to serve on the panel himself had the audience on the edge of their seats just by knowing just when to dial up and down the intensity. He began by asking the audience what level of discussion they wanted to hear, which was promptly met with shouts of ”deep dive” and “hard core!” And the panel did not disappoint. 

So what is being done to “fix” advertising? Kim began the conversation by asking the panel to articulate what’s broken — and everyone had an opinion about given the theme of the evening. 

According to Zack Coelius of Triggit, advertising is broken because it’s fragmented. It’s broken when it costs 20 to 30 percent of the media budget just to plan, buy and manage the process, especially when you don’t know where your ads are going and when you don’t have control over the buy.

Frank Adante of Rubicon echoed his sentiment from the publisher perspective, explaining how the sell side is fragmented too. Finding the money is difficult, he says, when an estimated two million advertisers are buying from one thousand sources and at least 500 sales teams worldwide. Not to mention the difficulties presented by multiple billing, collections, reporting systems. The solution, he suggests, is a central platform for selling and the  need for automation.

According to Jon Aizen of Dapper, people enjoy the web and get great value, but they don’t like display ads, which cover 10-20% of the visual real estate. After all, banners haven’t changed much since 1994. Advertisers actually have sometthing people want, but the advertising isn’t reflective of their offering, which Dapper hopes to change by matching visitors to relevant content.

Amy Lehman of United Online made a compelling case for how expensive it is to manage campaign reporting, metrics and attribution and how insane it is that we have not dealt with this as an industry already. Furthermore, she said, the industry is “beyond commodotized” and we make enable fragmentation which only makes it harder on ourselves. Ultimately, according to Lehman, most facets of the fragmented ecosystem (analytics, rich media, creative optimization, ad verification, etc.) belong resident in the ad server. 

As automation of these processes takes hold, will jobs actually be eliminated? Probably not, since machines can’t do creative or strategy, but more junior level roles centered around manually running reports and  managing pivot tables may evaborate, or at least their jobs will change, as the industry continues its rapid trend toward automation. According to Adante, automation is partly the cause of the fragmentation, referencing how a huge SEM/SEO services industry was built upon the backs of the major search engines.

Jon Aizen spoke about page saturation, consumer immunity (banner blindness). Unlike how a half page ad in print is half the cost of a full page, more ads on the page online are sold at the same rate, thus creating banner blindness. In Aizen’s view, sometimes it is more prudent to know when not to serve an ad. He also claims display units are too small and not intrusive enough. After all, when was the last time a banner ad made you laugh or cry?

The days of arbitrage models where middlemen add no value are over. If Terrence Kawaja’s now infamous GCA Savvian fragmentation slide is an indicator of some future consolidation, the Kim asks “by whom?” According to Coelius, “it’s going to be a going out of business process, not a buying process.” For those vendors who help to add insight and extract real value for advertisers, however, the outcome may certainly be acquisition by those larger media players and agencies who must continue acquiring such technology to compete long term.

Partly justifying the need for so much data and analytics is how much more multi-dimensional and dynamic display is compared to search. The mere fact that campaigns are distributed among thousands of sites in and of itself is complex. Then add in the critical creative component, which according to Michael Baker, a recent DataXu study found was the single most important factor in driving conversions, followed by consumer and context.

Being hosted at The Rubicon Project, Adante diligently represented the voice of publishers, whose role in all of this cannot be overlooked. According to some, a publisher backlash related to how networks use their data is looming, but there shouldn’t be any at all if publishers are simply paid for each impression based on what it is worth to the advertiser, which is what DSPs and sophisticated ad networks are set up to do.

Best quotes of the evening:

“We’re trying to kill online advertising and replace it with content.” – Jon Aizen

“Arbitrage just needs to die.” -  Zach Coelius

 ”These little buy and sell side technologies are like plaque in the teeth of Google.” – Michael Baker

DSC_0842

From left to right: Amy Lehman, SVP Advertising, United Online; Zach Coelius, Founder & CEO, Triggit; Frank Addante, Founder & CEO, The Rubicon Project; Jon Aizen, COO & Co-Founder, Dapper; Peter Kim, General Manager of Yahoo! SmartAds; Michael Baker, CEO, DataXu, James Beriker, CEO, Dapper.

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Posted in Ad networks, Advertising, Behavioral Targeting, Data, Los Angeles, Marketing Automation, Online Advertising, Online Marketing


Jul

3

arf logoI’m no researcher, but in recent years have acquired an appreciation for the role of research in audience targeting and measurement as well as its effectiveness in B2B marketing. Last week I had a rare opportunity to rub elbows with some of the digital media industry’s top research experts during the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement 5.0 conference in New York. As part of the “Media Smackdown” track, I was there to co-present new research on “Media Placement Strategy and its Impact on Online Ad Effectiveness” with Anne Hunter, VP of advertising effectiveness at comScore.

Notwithstanding how excited I was to participate in the conference and introduce the research ValueClick Media and comScore will release in the coming weeks, I took the opportunity to revisit my own understanding of the state of online measurement and targeting. The main question on my mind: how far away are we from seeing brands invest more heavily in digital, which today accounts for a disproportionate +/- six percent of total media spending? Through my conversations, I reaffirmed my understanding of what’s possible today, and I got fairly consistent feedback on where things need to go in order to move us toward the measurement and targeting capabilities necessary to give brand advertisers the confidence to spend more online.

Randy Cohen, founder and CEO of Advertiser Perceptions, reinforced what comScore suggested in its 2008 “Whither the Click” research, when he reminded me that “we’re chasing the wrong metric in performance.” The real money, he says, is in upper funnel measurement and our ability to prove that online advertising is capable of moving consumers into the consideration set for a particular brand. More succinctly put, he suggests “return on ad spend is a metric, but what matters most is return on brand.” Although he predicts innovative vendors will partner to deliver breakthroughs in audience targeting and measurement brands can embrace, like most people I spoke with, he doubts a single metric for brand engagement is realistic.

A related theme shared throughout the week and captured best in my conversation with Jack Myers, is the need to move ROI measurement beyond online sales impact and brand lift studies and into better accountability for its impact on offline sales. While offline sales impact studies have shown proven lift from online campaigns, they are expensive and fall short of brand marketers’ true desire: to target ads on the basis of offline shopping behavior.

The ability to target based on offline sales data was first explored by Yahoo Consumer Direct (with Nielsen/Homescan) in 2003 and improvements can surely be expected through a more recent announcement of a joint venture between IRI and Nielsen. It is unclear yet how this will impact comScore’s relationship with IRI. comScore has partnerships with other offline data providers, including dunnhumbyUSA, Polk and others, which until recently existed primarily for the purpose of measuring offline sales impacts as a result of online advertising. But the more interesting development for comScore is its introduction of Audience Advantage, which combines offline data with comScore panel data and a look-alike modeling methodology to allow networks and portals to “pre-score” media for its propensity to identify consumers who have exhibited similar behavior to those who purchased particular products offline.

While Consumer Direct and Audience Advantage, with their look-alike models have been around for awhile, third party data sources for online behavioral targeting have emerged as a key component of the display advertising landscape over the past two years. To the extent these providers can deliver specific audiences who have exhibited a recent behavior with any scale, it would stand to reason that this would be the more effective targeting method – perhaps worthy of a future comparison by an innovating brand. Whatever approach is best, there are actionable brand targeting and measurement solutions emerging, which when proven, promoted, refined and repeated will be a boon for display advertising online.

My most entertaining conversation of the week, and perhaps the most insightful, was with Andy Fisher, EVP Global Data and Analytics Director for Starcom, who suggested that brands really do want to spend more online, if nothing else because they know their future job security depends on digital. If only we could demonstrate for them a clear reason to do so. Brands, he said, want to know who they are reaching. Not just what audience segment performed well for a particular metric, but the specific individuals reached by a campaign. To support this ideal, measurement and ratings vendors should strive to report on granular audience delivery metrics, much in the way they do for media measurement today. One shortcoming, it seems is the lack of a common taxonomy for measuring behavioral audience segments. Even if there were, the user profile data it would rely upon lives in the proprietary databases of advertisers and media companies, each with their slightly different description of the same users and valid reasons for not wanting to share the data freely.

I was unable to find anyone to argue in favor of context over audience, however, as our study with comScore will demonstrate, what strategy to deploy is highly dependent upon price, reach and each marketer’s specific objectives – and deploying multiple strategies may be most effective. To that end, one of the more interesting point made by Mr. Fisher was how in television, media equates to audience because all of the creative is delivered against the same media at the same time, making it easier to measure and scale. Whereas the distributed nature of online carries with it many more complexities because of the requirement to reach and measure audiences across several media placement options. I’m sure I am oversimplifying this thought and hope he will elaborate.

Another concept that arose from a guided luncheon discussion led by Ms. Hunter and reiterated by Joanne Burns, EVP of marketing, research and new media at Twentieth Television, was the need for research and marketing to work more integrally together. When speaking with brands, in fact, Robert McLoughlin, director strategic insights at AOL said his approach is to first ask “what is your research goal” and only then dig deeper into the typical line of questioning related to marketing objectives.

Although I’m sure gaps remain in my understanding of what’s possible and where things are headed, I came away from Audience Measurement 5.0 much more confidence that the metrics CPG and other brand-oriented advertisers demand is on the horizon, if not here already. Regardless, I can assure you there is an army of intelligent marketers, publishers, analysts, scientists and researchers working to ensure online advertising isn’t relegated to being exclusively a direct response medium.

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Posted in Ad networks, Advertising, Behavioral Targeting, Brand Marketing, Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Research


Sep

29

Think smallFew things possess more Power than a Thought.
Because a Thought has the potential
to become something significant.
To solve something meaningful.
And to inspire us to achieve great things.

What makes a Thought so powerful is that it can be created by anybody.
At anytime.
From anywhere.

That’s why thinking should be encouraged
and nurtured in all its forms.
No matter how small.
Or how impossibly grand. 

Because wherever Thinking happens,
Big Ideas follow.
Minds become enlightened.
Knowledge grows.
And people discover new ways to unlock their Potential.

So start Thinking

View this inspiring spot for Qatar Foundation.

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Posted in Advertising, Community, Education, Philosophy, Science, Technology


Sep

23

advertising week logoHeard around Advertising Week: “You still call it behavioral targeting?” “Thank god congress is preoccupied with healthcare.” “Don’t order business cards, we’re going green.” “Part of the charm of Advertising Week is that events are NOT all in one place.”

 OMMA Keynote - The State of the Agency Business – An Analyst’s View

Jordan Rohan, Founder and Managing Partner, Clearmeadow Partners

It was refreshing to hear Jordan Rohan focused on anything other than lead generation, and his analysis of the agency business seemed on point. He says a confluence of events has created the current state of declining agency profitability. A complex media environment, characterized by “social distraction” and “mobile distraction,” will only help to accelerate this trend because it increases the complexity as people multi-task on top of multiple media usage. In today’s environment, agencies need to act less like a steward of the brand and more like an intermediary to all brands.

Case in point, social media usage is on the rise, but pricing is low:

Facebook $.60 CPM

MySpace $1.36 CPM

…and portal traffic is flat and prices are falling:

Yahoo! $8.44. CPM

Microsoft $9.68 CPM

AOL $13.58 CPM

Innovation in agencies – Risks taken, when successful are considered innovation, yet the economic incentives are not in place for agencies to take risks. Cited RGA work for Nokia and CPB work for Microsoft, Burger King as examples of risks taken and work done across platform that is working well.

Venture capitalists are reluctant to invest in people businesses where assets walk out the door every day. When a people business turns into something that can exist on its own, suddenly the money appears.

OMMA Keynote – How Dunkin Does Social

Frances Allen, Brand Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.

“Winning every trip, every day.” Not taking customers for granted.

Social values must reflect brand values. Fostering a relationship with passionate customers, a group defined as much by a sense of common brand values as a love of the products. Relationships take time, effort and commitment. Brands that make investment in relationship over time will win. There will be hard days, yes, but in the end it will be worth it.

Social strategy:

1) Hearts & minds – Facebook “Fan of the Week” and “Coolata”

2) Motivations and behaviors – “Dunkin’ Run” application to order for groups

3) Place and context – Create Dunkin’s Next Donut – (TV, radio, outdoor, online and in-store)

4) Communication

Set realistic expectations.

Perception becomes reality.

Be true to yourself.

OMMA Keynote – Nick Brien, President & CEO, Mediabrands

A marketing revolution: a new art, a new science

We’ve always lived in a social world, but now we have more control, the ability to customize, the ability to create new channels and to connect.

62.5% of people using the Internet globally say they are actively involved in social media.

Social means business transformation:

Social media / awareness

Social marketing / advocacy (sell something, utility)

Social business / reinvention

Agencies continuing to conduct business under reach/frequency models do a disservice to the medium:

1) Kill the hierarchy

2) Engage community power

3) Master the art of response

4) Create content

5) Embrace ingenuity

MIXX Keynote – The End of “Digital” Marketing?

Nikesh Arora, President Global Sales Operations and Business Development, Google

Before it was called a “car,” it was the “horseless carriage.” Before it was just a “teevision,” it was the “color television.” Similarly, during our careers we will just call it “marketing.” Sometimes you don’t realize you are going through a revolution until you step out of it.

1.7B Internet users, 2B mobile users worldwide.

In any new technology, advertising comes later in the cycle:

Technology –> Content –> Users –> Advertising

We’re still in the early part of the cycle in advertising and marketing.

Mattel Barbie television ad in 1959 – 10 years after – cut and paste from radio jingles vs. Audi ad dramatically showing car driving up ski ramp created exclusively for television

1981 – story for newspapers delivered electronically vs. TwitPic of USAirways plane in Hudson

Everything is localized down to you – Android video app combining camera phone to data

New generations of information created by you

Marketing is the new finance, with a sample size of {all}

All advertising is engaging – bidirectional media

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Posted in Advertising, Events, Marketing, Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Social Media, Technology


Sep

22

advertising week logoAdvertising Week is underway in New York  and as vibrant as ever, with more events to attend and more people to meet than could be accomplished in the span of an entire career, let alone a single week. Highlights from day one included editorial coverage of Moms Media announcement and lots of interest from both publishers and advertisers. Based on initial feedback, it seems like pretty good timing to launch a vertical ad network aimed at reaching moms online.

Great ValueClick Media workshop panel on ”How Leading Advertisers Use Ad Networks to Achieve Brand Marketing Objectives.” A BIG THANK YOU to Doug Chavez of Del Monte Foods, Erin Hunter of comScore, Steve Ustaris of Studiocom and Chris Arens of Catalyst:SF.

It was great seeing everyone on ValueClick Media’s NY team — what an impressive group of veteran online advertising professionals. Thanks also to IAB MIXX and OMMA Global conferences for all of your hard work in hosting two first class intustry events…if only you would do it together again!

Morning keynote #1

Along with the theme of “Fueling Advertising’s Creative Revolution,” Adobe SVP Global Marketing Ann Lewnes posed a challenge for all stakeholders in the online advertising ecosystem:

Media – Create experiences that leverage the medium and crack the nut on monetization.

Agency – Evangelize the medium and proactively push the boundaries of what is possible.

Clients – Be open to exploring more options and encourage your companies to overcome resistance

Flash Platform Services – Gigya partnership and tracking widgets — “thinking outside the rectangle.”

Augmented Reality – offline/online integration – cool demo of a direct mail piece, which when held in front of a webcam creates a 3D online experience. Holds interesting possibilities for making offline content more creative online.

Vision for Omniture integration and the ability to track creative executions through to monetization – sounds like a bright future for Flash cookies to me.

Adaptive Layout Technologies – Times Reader 2.0 flash player demo – adapts content to any size screen, ads also adapt automatically to content. Tools for developers create desktop apps using Flash/HTML

Keynote #2

Microsoft – Yusuf Mehdi, SVP Online Services spoke of “Misses, homeruns and game changers” and Microsoft’s view of the future.

I’m not sure if it’s an internal product mantra or something Mr. Mehdi devised for today’s session, but was inspired by these sound principles, which referenced as he presented Project Natal and Bing:

1) Be Authentic – Million Dollar Home Page

2) Be opportunistic and responsive – Ashton Kutcher

3) Relentless measurement and optimization – Zappos.com

4) Be social – Starbucks

5) Ads are content – Burger King “Freak Out”

The Bing demo was useful/relevant and served as a reminder that despite the bazillions spent on making me aware of the brand I have yet to type it into a browser (note to self: check out Bing!).

Bing is trying to deliver unmet needs in search and provide more intuitive results considering:

Imprecise Results – 25% of clicks lead to ‘back’

Refinement – 42% of sessions need refinement

Lengthy tasks – 50% of time spent on long queries

Demo included cool visual search demo with examples including female senators, U.S. government line of succession, handbags and cameras. Also impressive, though not elaborated on were some impressive reporting features for advertisers based on H/M/L usage.

Project Natal – Next generation of computing and how humans interact with computers. Xbox human controller will be first. Think Wii but without a controller. This much I could get my head around, until he introduced the “Dag” (aka Digital Assitant Guide) a creepy Max Hedroom-like video avatar who was all too happy to pull up meeting notes or dial up a video conference, but was unbelievable that he would add much value to my computing experience. Don’t get me wrong. Overall, it was the most impressive, innovative, well-executed and entertaining demo I’ve seen in a long time — just slightly ahead of its time.

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Posted in Ad networks, Advertising, Brand Marketing, Creative, Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Technology, Vertical Networks


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