Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:00:00 +0000A few months ago, a small startup from Australia pulled in $35 million in VC funding for creating a workflow process to crowdsource what many agencies and design shops survive on. For anyone not familiar with crowdsourcing, here's the Wikipedia link. The company is 99designs.com, and it's crowdsourcing the design process. Logos, web pages, business cards, you name it. Clients post a project -- it takes about 10 minutes -- and members of 99designs' database of 5,000 plus designers will submit their designs over the next week. It's a winner-take-all game and the fees start around $200 for a logo. Sound potentially disruptive? It sure does to me. And as you might expect, when the story of their funding hit the press, some of the conversations blew up. Understandably, designers are concerned. Why I tried itWhile the news of 99design's funding initiated a lot of conversation around crowdsourcing, the practice has actually been around in various forms for a number of years. But the combination of a major crowdsourcing tool coming to the design world in addition to the company getting $35 million in funding for a pretty simple site structure was enough for me to take a closer look. But the decision wasn't without a little anxiety over what crowdsourcing can do to just about any creative process. I've spent over 20 years making a living coming up with creative solutions to business problems. Many of my friends are in the same business. When sites like elancer.com started popping up, it was easy to say, "Well, that's coders dealing with ones and zeroes. With creative jobs, it's different." Or is it? After all, ideas are perhaps the easiest forms of data to exchange. Entire ad campaigns can be presented as a written paragraph with some visual references. For visual projects like design, you could argue the language issue isn't nearly as problematic. Even the argument of cultural relevance is shrinking amid an increasingly connected world. Seeing the potential for very big industry disruption, I decided to do what I've been recommending clients do when facing down a similar change in their industry's way of doing things. Get first-hand experience. One of the best ways to deal with change is by becoming more familiar with the source of that change. My crowdsourcing projectIn searching for the right project to try crowdsourcing on, I decided to use it for a logo for Zuum, a Facebook Page strategy tool I'm launching with a developer. There were several key factors in that decision. One is that the logo is for a personal project, and I knew we had a certain amount of flexibility in case the crowdsourcing didn't pan out. Given that I really didn't know what I'd be getting for design results, that was key. Another factor was that I had a clear idea of what we were looking for. I liked that you could write "Zuum" without picking your pen up from the paper, and that fluidity is something I wanted incorporated into the design Related to that, we knew we wanted a word mark -- a way of handling the text in "Zuum" so that the design elements would be the word itself. We also had a specific color palette in mind, which eliminated a lot of potential exploration, and would allow us to focus specifically on the word mark style. Also, we launched Zuum with the idea of getting a working model up, and making tweaks as we gathered early user feedback. We decided that we would also apply that approach to the site design, and even the logo if needed. Lastly, I have quite a lot of experience writing creative briefs and communicating with designers, sometimes working with people half way around the world. The crowdsourcing work processBefore I get into the workflow process, keep in mind this is the only creative crowdsourcing system I've used. Given their funding and base of 5,000 plus designers at 99designs, I was confident it would be a representative crowdsourcing experience. Sign up is easy, and within minutes you're already into the Creative Brief. As I mentioned, I think my familiarity with this part of the process helped considerably. [...]
Tue, 17 May 2011 16:00:00 +0000Back in the golden age of advertising, the one romanticized in "Mad Men," the traditional creative ad agency was focused on a copywriter and an art director working in tandem to convey a brand message and make it interesting. That's how it went for years, and it's that process that gave us memorable brand messages like "Where's the beef?" and "Mentos: The Freshmaker." Today, campaign development has evolved to include much more, especially for interactive rich media that crosses multiple platforms. A standard creative agency could realistically utilize an art director, copywriter, print designer, interactive designer, and a developer. But you start to have the problem of too many cooks in the kitchen. Stay connected. For more insights into the latest creative marketing strategies, attend the iMedia Entertainment Summit, June 28. Request your invitation today. Now throw in another variable: Media agencies. I'd say that 80 percent of the meetings I've been in over the last few years ended with some head scratching when we realized the media agencies aren't even thinking about the new creative process at all. I won't name any names, but there are still agencies that don't even have an online initiative ramped up. This is 2011, people! Come on. The problem is that many media agencies haven't evolved their strategy, and a lot of campaigns get muddled as they are passed along from one group to the next, resulting in creative that isn't designed to support the original campaign goal. In this equation, it's often the interactive designer who gets pushed aside and curtly told to "make things look interesting," and that's really where the biggest problem is introduced. In these situations, I'll try to get access to some of the designers and developers to ask about the intention of their design and build. I start with simply asking "What is the goal?" Often, they'll stare back blank-faced and say something like, "What do you mean by goal?" For an interactive designer to not understand a campaign's end goal is absolutely crazy, and it's probably why consumers ignore their campaigns. With interactive advertising, everything needs to be designed and developed with the end goal in mind, whether it's a completion rate, call-to-action, or even a (prehistoric) click-through-rate. A huge portion of achieving that goal relies on the designer and/or developer, but they are oftentimes left in the dark. Why? Because while media agencies have evolved to include digital teams, they're still running everything in a siloed approach. Sure, you could boil everything down to a one-man show and have one employee design, animate, and art direct your entire rich media or video campaign. But the truth is, there aren't many people out there who can do everything well, and they often come at a price. If "Mad Men" has taught us anything, it's that if you lock two people in a room for long enough, they'll emerge with a groundbreaking idea. One of them might leave with a black eye, but at the end of the day everyone will sip Scotch and laugh about all those billable hours getting passed on to the client. The best way to develop campaigns that hit your end goal is to keep everyone involved in the loop. You don't need four or five people all sitting in a room to brainstorm the campaign because that could be a long, grueling process. But because interactive creative teams must contemplate copy, design, usability, development, pricing models, and technical expertise, you need get everyone involved early. Truly empowered creative and development team members are the new warlords of advertising strategy. The concept of functionality relies on design -- if your copywriter and art director aren't working with a digital designer, many items are lost in the mix. Don't force everyone to sit in one grueling meeting, but keep constant contact and bounce ideas off different team members. Once you have a concept, talk to the developer. They can tell the art director very early on that a campaign execution is not possible, but it's also likel[...]
Tue, 05 Apr 2011 16:00:00 +0000Not long ago, I was in a car with a colleague from a media agency, and we were arguing the merits of media targeting and optimization versus creative targeting and optimization. His claim essentially went like this: "Mike, it doesn't really matter what your ad says, if you give it to me, I'll find the right audience for it and then optimize the hell out of the media." I've been in the advertising business for 20 years, and I know the disconnect and distrust between media and creative run deep. So, while this comment wasn't surprising -- I've heard it fairly often -- it still feels shortsighted to me. Advertising involves both art and science; therefore considering just one-half of that equation returns a fraction of the potential. Imagine the results we could deliver if both media and creative were optimized in concert. One of the benefits (or curses) of working in digital display advertising is the fact that we straddle the two disciplines and must operate fluently within both. This article is my attempt to bring the two sides closer together. I believe the exercise of using data as a catalyst to synthesize media and creative will benefit all parties involved, it will reinvigorate the medium of display advertising, and, yes, it will improve results for our clients. Stay informed. For more insights into connecting with lucrative online audiences, attend the iMedia iMoms Summit, May 1-4. Request an invitation. First, a disclaimer: I'm a creative/tech guy, so to media teams, I will channel Howard Gossage and say, "No amount of targeting and optimization will make an ad interesting -- creative still has a huge impact on viewers." (Study after study has shown that clever, creative advertising improves persuasion measures, such as recall, brand attitude, and purchase intent.) And to creative teams, I advise that denying data is like denying global warming. It's our reality, like it or not. In the good old days of broadcast television, one ad was delivered to everyone, regardless of whether they were the right target for the product being marketed -- and it worked. As this medium evolved, networks began dicing up their audiences by demographic, offering more relevant (and responsive) targets to marketers. But, even today, those targets are none too specific, so the advertising has remained demographically hit-or-miss as well; everyone still gets the same ads on TV. For example, this weekend my wife, 11-year-old daughter, and I were offered the opportunity to learn about Viagra, Budweiser, and pickup trucks during an evening in front of the tube. The digital space has followed a similar trajectory. Since the 1990s, we have created essentially the same experience. Though during the intervening 15 years vast amounts of audience data were brought to bear, and we have become able to display ads to narrower and more focused bands of viewers consuming the same content, we have still delivered one-size-fits-most creative executions. Despite that, data-driven placements have improved response and efficiency, so media got the credit for the recent boom cycle in display advertising. Those of us on the creative side of the fence worked on our screenplays and acted all emo about it. Part of the reason creative teams have been left out of the display advertising strategic loop is that we are naturally resistant to data, analysis, and critique. Another part is that it is very difficult to create template advertising that's interesting and engaging. Yet another part is simply that data can be very prescriptive and restricting. I propose a truce using my favorite Einstein quote: "Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts." Translation: Those on the creative side should use the data that makes for interesting and relevant advertising. Like all creative enterprises, ours is a reductive process, but we must include past performance, audience analysis, and predictive targeting in our tool [...]
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 16:00:00 +0000Content is not something that you should be scared of. Ever since we first picked up a crayon as a child, we've been creating content. Sure, we didn't care about the ROI of coloring pages or the SEO of finger painting. We created because it was fun and we enjoyed doing it. Somewhere along the way, too many of us forgot this. Ever since my book "Content Rules" hit store shelves, I've found myself talking about how to create content more than ever. People hope and pray for a silver bullet solution to the "mystery" of a content strategy, and while I'm here to tell you that there isn't one, I do want to give you tools to get started immediately. Get connected. Want to meet up with the companies that are leading content creation into the future? Check out the exhibit hall at ad:tech San Francisco, April 11-13. Learn more. I want to take my time this month to give you the basic steps that you can do this week during your lunch hour to begin embracing and using content in your company. I don't care if you are a church looking for new parishioners, a singer-songwriter looking for more fans, or a small business looking to sell more widgets. Over the next five days with only an hour a day you can get started. Where you go from there is up to you. Yes, this is only the beginning, but every journey begins with a single step. Day 1: Take a content inventoryTalk to the other people in your company about anything they have that might be able to be leveraged as content moving forward. Every company I've ever walked through this exercise always finds something they can use. Don't worry about how you are going to use this content at the time, but rather focus on finding out what you have and making a list of it all. I want you to start here because unless you are just starting up your business, you've got assets of some sort that we can start with even if you are not thinking of them as content right now. Places that content might be hiding: If you have ever had a booth at a trade show or conference, you must have created brochures, video demos, or have some left over swag that you were giving away. Your marketing or sales departments must have slide decks that they work from on a regular basis. If your executives or other staff members speak at events or in the office there may be a video of it. Intranets and shared file servers often have more than you'd imagine on them. Click around and you never know what you might find lurking. Now I can't say if you'll find coal or diamonds; but you've got to start with something and so an inventory of what you already have is a critical starting point. Then, examine what you turned up, and start thinking of ways you can reimagine that content and share it with others. Day 2: Check out what others are doingThere is no better way to determine the type of content you want to create then to look at what others are creating. This can serve, as both research and inspiration, so don't write it off as a waste of time. If you are not sure where to look, start on your competitors' websites. Look at what they are creating and sharing with their customers. This is also important because it sets a benchmark for where you are right now, and often you may discover that you are not as behind as you might have thought. Take specific notes on what media they are creating for, and where they are sharing their content. If they are sharing on a particular platform, than it's more than likely you want to be there as well. Also, go out to your personal Facebook and Twitter accounts and see what your friends are sharing and commenting on. While this may not represent how your customers will share and react, it will help you appreciate more how people share content they find interesting. Understanding these behaviors will increase your chances of creating engaging content. Day 3: Establish your footprintOne of the rules in my book is to "create wings and roots," and what you'll be doing today is setting up the roots for where [...]
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 16:00:00 +0000The National Chicken Council (NCC) represents companies that produce, process, and market chicken and chicken products in the United States. Member companies account for nearly 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States. In early 2010, the NCC had a small budget and a 12-year-old website that couldn't even be utilized within campaign efforts because of its outdated content and functionality. The NCC had no real connection to its consumer audience and no cost-effective options to communicate with chicken consumers on a national level. A website redesign was just the tip of the iceberg, though. The NCC wanted to improve consumer engagement with its brand and everything it stands for. To increase awareness levels and ultimately chicken sales, The Cyphers Agency (TCA), NCC's advertising agency of record, created "chicken for the win," a consumer-generated media contest designed to spark conversation about chicken. Stay informed. For more insights into the latest digital marketing opportunities and challenges, attend the iMedia Agency Summit, May 21-25. Request your invitation today. ChallengeThe National Chicken Council's biggest challenge was budget. It needed to reach a national audience, but did not have budget for a full-blown national media campaign. The NCC therefore opted for a more cost-effective social media campaign for increasing top-of-mind awareness for chicken, with the broader goal of increasing chicken consumption. The council wanted consumers to be talking and thinking about chicken, and ultimately buying more chicken. With its old website languishing in obscurity, the NCC needed to get consumers engaged and active. Strategy/solutionTo keep chicken top-of-mind among the competition (beef and pork), the campaign leveraged the NCC's extensive recipe database to show the versatility of chicken. With the recipe database housed on an out-dated site (and a site redesign underway), TCA decided to use social media marketing vehicles as the platform for sharing recipes and ultimately creating buzz. It was able to reach chicken consumers where they were already spending time and felt comfortable interacting: social networking sites. To create some online buzz and impactful impressions to increase top of mind awareness, the campaign started with social network development. It used low-budget Facebook ads and online outreach to build an audience on Facebook and Twitter. The social sites became a source for recipes, cooking tips, news, fun videos, pictures, and polls along with chicken gear and gift certificate giveaways. A newly redesigned website with a searchable chicken recipe database, cooking and nutritional information, videos, and other valuable content was yet another resource for the growing audience. While the audience was extremely engaged, the NCC wanted to raise the bar to ensure the fans would stay engaged by providing relevant and interesting content on a consistent basis. With the top-of-mind awareness objective set before them, TCA began to consider new mechanisms for creating buzz. Being connected to the audience, and really listening as fans expressed fun and quirky responses to questions about how and why they loved chicken, inspired the "chicken for the win" video contest. The NCC decided to challenge the fans to prove how much they loved chicken. TCA created a microsite to house the contest information and video entries as they were submitted. Each entrant was required to push out his or her own video and garner votes on the contest site to make it to the finalists' round (the top 10 videos made it to the finals). A panel of judges chose the top three winners -- with a top prize of $5,000. The contest was promoted through social networking, low-budget Facebook ads, blogger outreach, Facebook fan page outreach, YouTube outreach, and brand partnerships with El Pollo Loco and Athens' Phyllo Dough. The resultsThe NCC realized that[...]
Fri, 11 Mar 2011 16:00:00 +0000It's difficult to ignore the rising trend of significant brand partnerships being struck in the entertainment space. Just recently, YouTube announced that it was partnering with agencies to produce branded channels featuring original short-form content. Celebrities such as Paula Deen are building online presences around partnering with brands, and makeup megalith Avon is teaming up with Fergie to increase its engagement with female consumers in markets around the world. Tap into new digital knowledge. Want to stay on top of the latest developments in digital partnership strategies? Attend ad:tech San Francisco, April 11-13. Learn more. In addition, social media has come to be a powerful tool for research and planning, acting as a vast online focus group to measure people's tastes and preferences. Social media can also help bring a more objective process to selecting the entertainment property or personality that your brand should partner with. As Dan Neely, founder of CEO of Networked Insights, puts it, "Use social media to size up the talent pool that makes sense for your brand so you can have an intelligent conversation about building both brands." Four top brand strategists who specialize in working in entertainment partnerships spoke to iMedia about their process, their top tips, and the most common mistakes to watch out for. Gary McCormick, immediate past chair and CEO, Public Relations Society of America. Top tips Research is key -- not just to ensure that the overall brand values fit with each other, but that both products/ divisions being marketed complement each other as well. Entertainment properties such as celebrities are often inherently less stable, and social media adds that touch of uncertainty to the consumer response. Partnership is a difficult process, with a heavy investment and potential risk to your brand equity. It should be entered into carefully. iMedia Connection: You've worked in partnership development for a long time. What's the most important thing to keep in mind when seeking out a brand or celebrity to partner with? McCormick: Most importantly, it's that initially to make sure that the brand equity is similar to yours, and that the brand values are similar. Once you commit your marketing funds and your brand awareness and your consumer touchpoints, you're risking some of your own investment and equity if you don't pick the right partner. iMedia Connection: So research is very important. McCormick: Yes, and secondly, it's important to understand what their priorities and commitments are. What is their media schedule? Who are they trying to reach, and how? Even if your brand equities are similar, they maybe marketing a part of the company that's a disconnect with the audience you're trying to reach. iMedia Connection: There may also be power imbalances when trying to make this work... McCormick: Absolutely. When you try and partner with a larger brand -- a popular brand getting asked to the dance by everyone -- as a smaller brand, you won't really have a lot of say or control over what you get from them. So often it's either live with that or don't play at all. iMedia Connection: But when there's a good match... McCormick: When two brands much up, and the equity is good, the delivery is good, the messaging is good -- they really can gain access to their target audience quicker, and ensure that transference of credibility. But it's a long-term initiative, and a heavy investment to make it work. iMedia Connection: What about celebrity endorsements and partnerships? McCormick: If you look at the celebrity genre over the last several years -- think Tiger Woods and Lindsay Lohan -- any number of celebrities who had very strong endorsement deals, the minute their brand becomes diminished, you have some impact on the consumer partner as well. You may see celebrity endorsement value diminished in the consumers' eyes more than it used to be. Of course,[...]
Thu, 03 Mar 2011 16:00:00 +0000The digital agency has been through a lot lately. In less than a decade of rapid changes in technology and human behavior, the digital agency has gone from "new kid" to "shiny object" to "acquisition target" to something that is now looked at as an also-ran to the thriving world of social media, emerging technologies, and the increasingly competitive world of the app. It's gotten to the point where, on an alarmingly frequent basis, we find ourselves fielding questions from clients like, "Do we really need a website?" or "Why pay for an online ad buy if we have a Facebook and Twitter account?" Co-author Matthew Wayne Selznick is a producer at Jetset Studios As media fragmentation gets further amplified by the aggregate pull of Facebook, the value of the traditional online campaign is constantly being challenged. Sure, people are spending more time than ever online; but in that time, they are visiting fewer places, and their conversations increasingly revolve solely around one topic of their choice. In addition, how these types of conversations start is increasingly becoming intertwined with the role brands, agencies, and audiences play in creating that spark of conversation. To say that the audience is no longer passive is an obvious understatement. But it is how the narrative of that conversation is seeded, moderated, and fed that represents the biggest opportunity (and challenge) for agency marketers. And it is this vital life blood of social media that rescues the digital agency from irrelevance and obscurity in the branding process, even as it would seem to be making it obsolete. The agency was, is, and always will be tasked with telling a story that captures the essence of a brand and places it into the public consciousness as if it had always been there. The tools with which agencies tell that story have changed over the years -- from handbills promising cure-alls to contests, sweepstakes, print ads, radio and TV spots, online campaigns, and social media conversations. And at the Tootsie Roll-like center of every one of these campaigns is a story. Stay informed. For more ways to strengthen the brand-agency bond, attend the iMedia Agency Summit, May 21-25. Request your invitation today. It has been said that America's greatest export is the story, which makes Hollywood and Madison Avenue, arguably, our greatest natural resources. As we cede steel, dry goods, agriculture, and technology to globalization, we remain the world's largest exporter of story... both in the traditional sense, and in the marketing definition. Here's an example: A movie is a passive experience. But video games have brought the Hollywood-esque full-length narrative story into the hands of the audience, letting them direct and guide it at will. The brand story has changed in a similar fashion. Talking at your customers rather than with them is so last-century. And it's no longer a given that the audience will passively absorb a brand's message. Audiences now fully expect the brand to participate and invite them into the conversation; to be acknowledged as an integral part of that story and critical to its success, because the reality is... that's what they've always been. We've been saying this since the internet was in diapers. We have created, controlled, and directed -- to great success -- the stories of some of the world's biggest brands. Over the last decade, we've seen trends come and go, companies rise and fall, and we're still here to tell the tale. Now, with the advent of the social web, we have new tools, new audiences, and new methods and best practices with which to tell our brand stories. The truth is, more than ever, brands need the digital agency to craft their stories by harnessing an ever-increasing array of social media tools to optimize the conversation and direct it to meet their goals. By building a symbiotic relationship between the brand and customers thr[...]
Fri, 25 Feb 2011 16:00:00 +0000Common sense indicates that marketers that understand what differentiates a consumer from their neighbor, friends, or relatives will be more effective in engaging that individual to transact with their brand, product, or service. Here are some factors that may lead to a better understanding of consumers and personalizing experiences: Personalized site experiences that drive to purchase Amazon continues to be one of the best examples of developing and refining personalization of the online customer experience. Everyone is familiar with the Amazon landing page and its personalized recommendations, but Amazon has also developed a robust set of tools to provide consumers with a highly personalized overall experience. Tools include community settings/public profile, tracking product reviews, registries, shopping lists, gift lists/ideas, and personalized content. Stay informed. For more insights into the latest trends in emerging marketing technologies, attend the iMedia Breakthrough Summit, March 20-23. Request your invitation today. An addition to note is the Amazon recommendations engine, which provides many ways for users to manage and control how it works. Since Amazon provides details on why a product is being recommended, users can elect to have products removed from future recommendations, designate products that are already owned, and treat items that one bought as a gift differently than those bought for oneself. Amazon is the largest online retailer for numerous reasons, but it is clear that users value and appreciate the personal touch. E-commerce sites with communities that allow users to customize their experience Another brand taking an innovative approach is Vitacost, an online retailer specializing in vitamins and related health products. Vitacost provides customers the ability to join the Vitacost community. As part of the community, users get a dedicated page, photo section, progress blog, and place to track product reviews. The site allows the user to define one of four personal objectives (general health and wellness, weight loss, weight gain/muscle mass, or specific health concern) and then connect with friends and other people with common interests. A forum is provided to chat with other members, to see what products other group members recommend, and to share in discussion boards. By allowing customers to express their own preferences and enabling a site experience that reflects these preferences, Vitacost has leveraged the power of social networking to create discussions focused around its products. This personalization serves to drive better, more relevant engagement and promote loyalty to the site's e-commerce/shopping experience. Personalizing shopping across channels Yoox is a premium apparel retailer that focused on mobile commerce in 2009. They launched an iPhone and Android application offering a selection of fashion and design gifts and allowing users to ship gifts worldwide. The application also engages consumers in a questionnaire about gifts and tastes and then personalizes the mobile shopping experience. Personalized customer relationship management (CRM) programs Not only is it important to personalize the consumer's on-site experiences, but it's also equally important to customize the communications sent across channels. Kohl's asks users for their department preferences upon registration so that they can personalize and prioritize offers and products. Diapers.com tracks the ages of each customer's child (or children), enabling customized emails to be sent with specific products and offers based on the ages. Amazon.com goes a step further and sends follow-up emails based on a registered user's site activity. While such personalization requires user-level tracking across site and web analytics, such coordination enables re- targeting of customers who were much earlier in the purchase process [...]
Tue, 15 Feb 2011 16:00:00 +0000For years brand marketers have strived to deliver unique microsites and applications that have the kind of mass appeal that guarantees sharing and word-of-mouth distribution. Strangely, while there are countless examples out there of those who've gotten their wish, the formula for this type of initiative remains somewhat of a mystery. Marketers can no sooner tell you what makes a campaign spread virally than a book publisher can predict the next bestseller. That said, when you analyze the buzz and ultimate results of some of the most successful viral campaigns one tactic seems to pop up time and time again. Personalized branded media. Tap into new digital knowledge. Want to stay on top of the most creative ways to engage your audience? Attend ad:tech San Francisco, April 11-13. Learn more. You'll know it as the concept behind OfficeMax's long-running Elf Yourself holiday campaign, created by Toy NY and Evolution Bureau in 2006 and powered by JibJab from 2008 to present. But this kind of user-generated media has been employed to promote brands within every vertical, from consumer entertainment to consumer electronics, fast food to pet food. It's also been the bread and butter of companies like JibJab, which has seen over 150 million heads uploaded to its Starring You platform, with e-cards viewed over 400 million times to date. Brands have given consumers the ability to slap their virtual photo on Christmas ornaments, insert their best friend (or worst enemy) into a clip from "The Dark Knight," or turn themselves into a character from "The Simpsons." But despite the apparent popularity of image-based experiences, avatars are, in fact, only a minor consideration when it comes to personalizing media. "The majority is taking social information and creating media on the fly, using audio recordings and any kind of mash-up that's audio-visual," says Adi Sideman, CEO of Oddcast, which developed CareerBuilder's Monk-e-Mail and Minion Dominion for the film "Despicable Me." Last fall's much-hyped interactive film "The Wilderness Downtown" provides an example. The experience was conceived by Montreal-based band Arcade Fire, music video director Chris Milk, and partners at Google Labs to promote the band's new song. It pulled data from Google Maps and Street View to create a highly personalized and emotional video for each individual user. According to Oddcast, media that's personalized is shared an average of 30 percent, compared with 2 percent for non-personalized marketing. Social media has changed the gameFor the consumer, there's something about seeing parts of themselves and their lives within videos and animation that's highly compelling. These types of efforts have traditionally played themselves out on stand-alone microsites. Five hundred million users have changed all of that. Increasingly brands choose to leverage Facebook Pages and applications for their personalized branded media campaigns, taking advantage of existing fans and networks of friends to facilitate distribution. The Frenzied Waters campaign from Discovery Channel used Facebook Connect to personalize its creepy promotion for the network's annual Shark Week event. The personalized, interactive tool -- developed by digital firm Campfire -- featured fictional videos of shark attacks from a first-person point of view. It pulled in data like the user's name, occupation, and photograph to build a personalized obituary, as if the user was the shark attack victim. To promote the application marketing kits containing customized newspaper obituaries and various items related to the supposed attack were sent out to popular bloggers. According to Campfire, the 2009 campaign resulted in the most watched week ever on the network. Add a comment[...]
Thu, 20 Jan 2011 16:00:00 +0000Chances are you're not going to read this article. If you're like most people browsing the internet, you're going to skim this. You might read the first paragraph; you will probably glance at the sub-headings; and you may just hit the back-button before you reach the end of the first page. That's how everyone interacts with your textual content as well. Whether it be website copy, a press release, an email newsletter -- and in this day of ever-shrinking attention spans, even your Twitter account -- web users rarely use the internet for reading. They skim, flick, and click. There is a way, however, to game the system so that the content you need to communicate gets across to the user in the most efficient manner. The "F-shape" of reading: Front-load your messageThese graphics should tell you all you need to know about how people read on the internet- The above images are the results of an eye-tracking study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group. Looking at how 232 users scanned thousands of web-pages, the study found that users primarily read in a pattern resembling the letter "F". The red areas indicate the areas they focused on the most, followed by yellow and blue. The grey areas were not noticed at all. What does this mean?Readers will focus first (and often only) on the top paragraph of your content. They will then skip to the top of your second paragraph to see if content retains their interest. Then they will quickly skim through the rest of your content, not reading, but barely glancing at the beginnings of your sections and sentences. Therefore, the opening few lines are crucial to get your message across -- make sure that everything you have to say is communicated in those lines. Readers on the internet have little patience for beginnings containing fluff. Keep your message short, simple, and at the top. Headlines headlines headlinesHeadlines are crucial to pull people into your content -- a strong, intriguing headline makes them more likely to click on your links, as opposed to the hundreds of others vying for their attention. Headlines also enable you to break up your text into easily readable chunks, allowing the reader to easily skim the content. Here are some basic rules to follow in crafting the perfect headline: Keep it under 65 characters to optimize search engine indexing. Use the active voice, strong verbs, the present tense, and the most important words up front. The subject-verb-object structure is a good format to follow. Think like the audience you want to reach -- what terms would they type into the search engine when looking for your content (or your competitors')? Use those keywords. Headlines indicating numbered lists (e.g., 5 ways to get more clicks) are surefire ways to draw in your audience, as you're setting up a clear expectation on the length and readability of your content up front. Make your content universal -- readable at any time, any placeIt's easy to get caught up in hyper-targeting your audience, and using phrases and buzzwords that you think will get the right kind of attention. However, the web is a truly international space. Over one billion people are surfing the internet, so don't miss out on an opportunity to communicate with new users/customers just as well as you do with your target audience. For starters: Make sure your language is as clear and simple as possible. Forty-three percent of Americans have basic or below-basic literacy skills (according to the U.S. Department of Education). Clear and simple language also enables translators (robotic or otherwise) to easily render the copy in other languages. Avoid slang terms, idioms, irony, overly descriptive, or potentially misunderstood phrases. Don't let your language unintentionally turn off a potential client or customer. Eliminate bias from your copy -- use gender-neutral pron[...]
Mon, 03 Jan 2011 16:00:00 +0000
When preparing a creative showcase of digital campaigns targeted to mothers, the first question that demands an answer is, "Is the creative that appeals to moms really all that different from the creative that appeals to everyone else?" In other words, are mom brains actually different? And, as it turns out, yes, they are.
In "The Buying Brain," Dr. A.K. Pradeep discusses the marketing implications of the fundamental differences among the brains of different groups of people. In conducting his research, not only did Pradeep find significant differences between the brains of men and women, but he also found that the brains of mothers are significantly different than those of other women.
Based on the unique characteristics associated with the brains of mothers, Pradeep found that certain creative elements are more likely to receive a favorable response from moms than other demographics. These include:
Some brands have mastered the art of connecting with mothers, while others are still trying to figure out what makes this lucrative demographic tick. At this year's ad:tech New York, digital marketing specialists showcased stellar digital creative executions targeted to moms across four key verticals:
Take a look at these evocative case studies and learn how you can deliver uniquely relevant messages that drive moms to action.
Fri, 12 Nov 2010 16:00:00 +0000Marketers are already well aware of the importance of building a brand identity. If you're a marketer, you've likely spent countless hours tending to the look, functionality, integrated technologies, and graphics that represent your brand and its products. Despite all of this effort, few marketers consider sound to be an integral part of brand identity. Sound can be an important part of the consumer experience, as it creates an additional sensory perception -- beyond the look and feel of a product -- to emotionally connect the consumer to a brand. Think about the famous Intel jingle, or Windows' well-known startup sounds. Even Harley Davidson tried to patent their engine sound. Those iconic noises promote brand loyalty and help bond consumers to your product. So how do you create a sonic identity for your brand? Take a look at the following steps: Co-author Mike O'Connor is the sound expert at Product Development Technologies (PDT). Step one: Develop the interfaceDesigning a user's experience encompasses a number of elements -- one, of course, being sound. That said, the process has to begin with the design of a great graphical interface. Once the flow of data and interaction is designed, you can identify where sound can be used to enhance the complete user experience. Step two: Study the audienceIt may sound obvious, but marketers often forget to consider the target user when building a sound identity. Ask yourself some basic questions about your audience; for example, do you create tech products or medical devices? Is your audience primarily comprised of kids or adults? A product for kids might have a simple but fun tone, while a product for the elderly may call for something soft and basic. If you're appealing to the technical world, a more complex and impressive sound may be the way to go. The audience should drive the entire user experience from visual design to sound appeal. Step three: Determine the consumer's environmentBeyond identifying who your audience is, you need to identify how and where they will be experiencing the sound. For example, when charged with creating the sound for a medical product, one company created a peaceful and uplifting sound that helped ease a patient's concern. A more technical sound with a lot of bells and whistles could have made patients nervous or irritated, fostering a negative reaction to the product. So ask yourself questions about how the sound will be experienced in context. Will it be in the home, or maybe in a busy subway station? The environment will further drive the type of sounds that will best suit your brand. Step four: Experiment with a wide variety of soundsOnce you've identified the sound's audience and environment, and you move into the development phase, make sure you experiment with a lot of sounds. You might start with standard instruments like a keyboard and acoustic guitar, but move on to experiment with other, everyday sounds as well. The right sounds can be created by doing everything from dropping a can of paint on the floor to taking a sample of a lion's roar. Much like when you're creating the visual identity for your brand, building a sound identity is a trial and error process. However, if you use the previous two steps to guide you, you'll be able to better identify exactly the right sound for your brand through experimentation. Step five: Begin with the start-up soundThe start-up sound is by far the most important, and the it's sound that you should spend the most time on. Think of it as the first impression -- it's the very first thing the consumer hears, whether it's the sound that plays when they turn on your product or when they power up your app. This is not only the first impression, but also usually the so[...]
Wed, 21 Apr 2010 16:00:00 +0000
The path of innovation is not the road most traveled. From film to music to architecture to, yes, even advertising, history is littered with brilliant minds that just couldn't navigate past the corporate layers full of naysayers. Selling a unique idea can seem like pulling teeth. As Howard Aiken, creator of the IBM/Harvard Mark I computer said, "Don't worry about anyone stealing your idea. If it's truly original, you'll have to ram it down their throats."
Of course, to many in this business, that's all more nuisance than deterrent. And while selling innovative work is rarely a breeze, how it's presented and the point of view it comes from can have a big impact on whether it dies in the desert or makes it to the promised land.
So if you're having trouble pushing an idea through, here are a few things you might want to consider.
Tue, 20 Apr 2010 16:00:00 +0000What's next? If you've been downsized, laid-off, or gone out-of-business, you're basically looking to the next "right" job, new career path, or to build a new business. You need to start making money and find personal satisfaction. So, how can you make this transformation? There are several approaches and methodologies to consider when moving toward what's next. Why is it that some people are able to 'land' within six months of leaving/losing their job and others are out of work for years? I've spoken with dozens of candidates who are seeking a new career and my first question is, "What's your personal value proposition?" Basically, what do you have to offer a company that will add value for them toward building their business? After all, the main reason someone will or won't hire you is whether or not you can make them money. The next question I ask these individuals is, "Why should a company hire you especially if you're on the outside of their industry?" It is vital for anyone making this transformation to have a crystal-clear, impactful response to this question, or else most of their interviews will end very quickly, assuming they get any. The ability to transfer skills, networks, (value!) from one industry to another is a skill that requires research, networking ability, and smarts. If you are not preparing yourself with answers to just these two questions, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your search process. The most successful job seekers -- even if they've been in the same position for more than 10 years, in an industry that is shrinking -- intuitively understand that they need to reacquaint themselves with today's business environment. They create a business plan for their search. This is how to start. First and foremost, focus on value proposition One of the people who transformed his career along the lines described herein moved from advertising to film production. I'll call him Matt. Matt recently transitioned his career in advertising and marketing to lead a division for one of the largest documentary and film production companies in the U.S. Matt saw an opportunity for his new employer that leveraged his existing skill set and network from his former job, and brought it to them directly in his interview. In analyzing his new potential employer's business model, Matt recognized an opportunity to work with advertisers that were seeking new and exciting ways to entertain and reach their consumers. He leveraged his marketing and advertising experience, and is now the managing director of a newly created branded content and entertainment division of the production company. He went from being unemployed to running a division of a large company that is focused on developing long-form video for both television and the web for advertisers. Keep an open mind -- and the end in mindI asked Matt, "What were the most important things that you needed to do to make a career change?" He replied, "An open mind, and being able to look for opportunities in chaos." When Matt found himself downsized from his position at a major advertising agency, he immediately put out his "shingle" as a marketing consultant. Matt began by developing a business plan, then implemented that plan, and brought on several clients. It was out of his consulting practice that the branded content and entertainment concept evolved, so without that experience as a solo practitioner/consultant, he would have never created the opportunity he ultimately landed. What's the lesson? Don't be afraid to exert your creativity when translating your former dossier to your new opportunity. Many would-be employers will be impressed with your creativity, even if the specific skills or ideas don't translate direct[...]
Tue, 30 Mar 2010 16:00:00 +0000The interactive portion of Austin's annual South by Southwest (SXSW) has become a paradise for the tech savvy, and where a crowd like that goes, marketers are not far behind. But making an impact in one of the most promotion-saturated events can be difficult. The challengeESET, a leading global antivirus software company, planned a large-scale immersion campaign targeting downtown Austin during the annual conference, with tactics ranging from radio, billboards, and a fleet of wrapped cars, to more unconventional "experiences." These experiences included installations such as an interactive wall display that reacts to passers-by on the sidewalk, and a plexiglass-enclosed laptop covered in hundreds of live cockroaches. One of the more popular elements of the campaign was sure to be a photo booth which unexpectedly produces fake IDs using a likeness of the visitor. But one key question remained: How could we drive traffic to these experiences during SXSW? The solutionRed Door Interactive devised a mobile scavenger hunt in which participants could use their mobile devices to locate and decipher simple, but engaging clues designed to drive foot traffic to four of the campaign installations and provide concentrated exposure to the brand. The prize? The first 200 to complete the hunt received a retail version of ESET's NOD32 antivirus software, and were entered to win a $2,000 Sony VAIO laptop. Participants could either decode the clues using a mobile app, or receive their next clue via text message. The 2D barcodes seen here are called QR codes. We choose these codes we believe they are becoming more viable, and this emerging technology matches our segment. After planning the scavenger hunt, we learned that SXSW organizers were planning to integrate QR technology into the event credentials, further reinforcing our direction. Each clue card in the scavenger hunt included a QR code, as well as alternate instructions. As outlined in my previous post, participants could either read the barcode using a mobile app, or simply receive their next clue in a text message after sending the clue keyword to an SMS short code. The best way to experience the scavenger hunt is to watch the following YouTube video documentary of two contestants going through the hunt. The results 501 SMS interactions 70 percent of participants completed the hunt 67 percent of overall participants at any point were from Austin 55 percent of the people who completed the hunt were from Austin 78 percent of Austin participants completed 62 percent of participants from outside Austin completed 53 percent of the people that completed using QR were from Austin 55 percent completed using QR We were pleasantly surprised to see that more than half of the finalists using QR were from Austin, as we expected that segment to be dominated by people in town for the conference. We did not gather any data that suggests that those groups are exclusive, and it stands to reason that many of the Austin finalists were also conference attendees. We were able to attract the attention of tech-savvy Austinites, which was a campaign goal. During a test run in Austin, prior to SXSW, we discovered that only 7 percent of the finalists were using the QR codes. The SXSW event showed a much better response to QR, with more than half completing the hunt in that fashion. Tips and learningsIf you are considering doing a similar promotion with QR codes, here are some challenges, solutions, and key learnings we found in executing the scavenger hunt. Tracking: Without requiring a proprietary reader app, you cannot directly track the number of people who scan a QR code, and you will need to pass the interac[...]
Tue, 23 Mar 2010 16:00:00 +0000Let's face it. At most organizations, presentation skills are uneven, at best. You have the rock stars of PowerPoint who seem to enjoy a cult-like devotion within the company, and an uncanny ability to make things happen and influence outcomes. And then there's everyone else. Well, here's the good news: Sure, some of these rock stars are naturally gifted at storytelling (visually or verbally), but the reality is, good storytelling is not relegated to the cool kids. It's an inherent skill we all posses and have always possessed since the beginning of civilization, across literally every culture in every country. It's practically in our DNA. It's just that we've forgotten the fundamentals. In the spirit of restoring each of you to your storytelling greatness, here is a reminder of the five secrets "rock star" presenters know: 1. Be devoted to your audienceWe all have a dangerous tendency to look at things through the prism of "What do I want to say? What do I want to show them?" And no offense to those of us in the digital marketing field, but we loooove to talk about our ideas and our work. Instead, try asking, "What does this group of people need to know, do, and feel as a result of this presentation?" and "How can I help this group of people do their jobs better? How can I help them become smarter?" By working backwards using your audience as the point of departure, a very different presentation will emerge. If you meet your audience's needs first, yours will be met ten-fold. Just don't forget what I affectionately call the Cheap Trick Principle: "Surrender, but don't give yourself away." Don't lose track of who you are and what your style is, in the pursuit of pleasing everyone, which leads me to... 2. Be youThe digital space is filled with some of the smartest, funniest, and most irreverent people in the world. Yet, you would be hard pressed to find humor and irreverence in most presentation situations. I've sat through presentations featuring some of the industry's top creative minds at big conferences, and have been bored within an inch of my sanity. But know this: Whenever a presentation feels low energy and dull, it's because the presenter is not actually presenting themselves. They are trotting out their "serious grown up" personas or the "we really have to win this pitch" personas. If you're not sure who you are exactly, or what your authentic voice is, you're not alone. Just think of how many dull presentations you sit through in a given week. There is a reason for this pervasive problem: Boring feels safe. It takes guts to be fearlessly yourself. But as an audience, we deserve the real you -- especially if you're trying to convince us of a new idea (or to write you a really big check). 3. Use PowerPoint/ Keynote, but do not rely on themWhile books like "Presentation Zen" and "Slide:ology" have been a God-send, they have also sparked an almost religious devotion to developing the "perfect deck." As a result, I'm seeing quite a bit of what I like to call "Keynote narcissism." This happens whenever you see someone pouring hours into developing a gorgeous presentation, when the audience really just wanted a 10 minute update. If your audience values time above all, pour your creativity into cultivating a sense of elegant but purposeful restraint. Having said that, PowerPoint and Keynote are powerful tools when they are used to help your audience to remember the content. John Medina's fantastic book, "Brain Rules" tells us that our visual sense trumps all other senses. This really does explain why we all go into zombie mode when someone throws up a slide full of[...]
Thu, 04 Mar 2010 16:00:00 +0000Sure, agencies can look at all the technology changes, media shifts, industry turmoil, and business challenges they are up against and feel nothing but stress and pressure to meet the needs of the dynamic audience. But that's not how Bryan Weiner, CEO of 360i, chooses to view the opportunities presented to agencies during what he refers to as the golden age of the agency. "It's time to leave the pessimism behind. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for agencies to become indispensable marketing partners," said Weiner in his Agency of the Future address at last week's IAB Ecosystem conference in Carlsbad, Calif. So what's holding agencies back from reaching their true potential? For starters, Weiner explained that the industry needs to get better at keeping up with customer and technology demands; yet, the current agency structure hasn't evolved at pace with media innovations, which makes it difficult for even the most innovative of marketers to push new ideas through. "The advertising holding company structure hasn't changed; it's still a television-centric advertising model," he said. This leaves marketers with two sub-optimal choices -- work with traditional agencies that don't necessarily have the necessary skills to deliver on digital campaigns, or work with a plethora of specialized agencies, which is difficult to coordinate and align across multiple platforms and projects. Beyond the internal factors are challenges coming from the audience itself. As we all know by now, consumers have taken over the direction of brand communications on many platforms. On top of that, the media platforms themselves have also changed in both form and function, fragmenting more and more as new media come onto the scene. These behavioral and technology shifts are causing a dire need for innovation; yet, as Weiner points out, the system wasn't built to be adaptable. "The interactive agency model disincentivizes greatness and fails to penalize mediocrity," he says. Yet the fact remains: Advertising is about getting consumers to be product and service advocates. To be able to do that today, agencies need to find innovative solutions, and do so at reasonable prices. To illustrate the need for affordable, consumer-centric innovation, Weiner related the example of "Amanda," who was shopping in a Barnes & Noble store. Amanda found a book she wanted, but before purchasing it, she took a look at a shopping comparison app on her iPhone. After finding a better price online, Amanda purchased the book from Amazon.com through the app while she was still standing in Barnes & Noble. "This is happening increasingly every day. Consumers have near perfect access to product and price information," Weiner explained. "There now needs to be a value exchange between consumers and brands through advertising. Think about how your property can serve as a conduit for deeper interactions between brands and consumers; otherwise you just become an interesting way to interrupt them." A view of the future agencyAs Weiner sees it, the model for the agency of the future doesn't exist yet, but marketers can help create it in their own environments by focusing all their efforts toward meeting client needs. In turn, all business will need to play their part in allowing new digital technologies to take center stage in all strategic endeavors. Digital would be front and center, though there wouldn't necessarily be a bias toward it. "The new agency would need to have traditional buy and plan capabilities, but these don't have to be the centerpiece of every campaign," he said. "As agencies we sho[...]
Tue, 09 Mar 2010 16:00:00 +0000How important are our clients? It's a rhetorical question: Obviously, they're very important, and for agencies, clients are our lifeblood. But how far are we willing to go to make them happy? Should we be afraid of them? Should we compromise our fundamental best practices? How do we push back on unreasonable requests and ideas we know won't work in the long-run? It's a delicate juggling act, balancing our ability to say no while keeping the client happy. For those of us who work in client services, we understand this juggling act and are challenged by it daily. How do we manage client requests and expectations, make our contacts look like rock stars within their own organizations, and contribute to our own agency's revenue? The recent economic challenges and the perception that advertising agencies will do anything for the client make it difficult to feel we can say no, and our clients may know this. But at the end of the day, we should feel empowered to say no. It doesn't do our clients any good for agencies to be nothing but yes men. In fact, this practice can backfire with lackluster results and relationships that go stale. While it is our job to make our clients look good, it's also our responsibility to challenge their thoughts, motives, and objectives. At the risk of sounding cliché, we're on a journey together -- one in which we work to achieve common goals. It's also our job, no matter the discipline, to push the creative envelope and keep our clients asking questions. The following are a handful of scenarios and how you can work within these situations to gently push back and achieve a healthy balance between agency revenue and strong client relationships. Burning the midnight oil. Or, as it's commonly referred to, "quick turnarounds" or "fire drills." Long hours and advertising agencies go together like peanut butter and jelly (well, maybe not that satisfying, but there's no question that agency executives haven't had one without the other). What do you do with a client who's constantly asking for more time? How many of these last-minute requests are the result of the client communication funnel or the client's procrastination? All of the "quick turnarounds" can actually do more harm than good. Projects that are rushed or pushed through quickly are prone to errors, and let's face it: The agency is likely to shoulder the blame if there's a mistake. There will always be fire drills, but you can minimize them by sitting down with the client to establish expectations, set realistic deadlines/timelines, and determine if additional resources need to be made. Kill 'em with kindness. If we've done our jobs right in client services, we've built relationships that will weather most storms. We call more than we email, we know birthdays and anniversaries, kids' birthdays, and favorite adult beverages. We try the best new restaurant in town, and may even fight over who picks up the check. It is in these relationships where saying no or pushing back might be more challenging than ever. You may very well run into a situation where you know the client is wrong, but telling the client so could jeopardize what you've worked so hard to build. Think about the open, honest, trustworthy lines of communication you have with friends and family, and try to approach this situation the same way. The bottom line is that we're looking out for their best interest, and above all, it is our responsibility to arm our clients with the necessary research, strategic thinking, and recommendations that make sense for them. Trustworthy relationsh[...]
Mon, 01 Feb 2010 16:00:00 +0000In 2009, Vibram (best known as the makers of the "five-finger" running shoe) worked with AMP Agency's integrated media unit, AMP Media, to initiate a campaign that aimed to engage core consumers across relevant online spaces and create a direct dialog with avid trail runners. For Vibram, this campaign represented a marked shift from its previous media strategy and a move into somewhat uncharted territory for the brand -- but a move it was finally ready to make. Historically, Vibram relied on 100 percent print advertising. After three years of working with AMP Agency, Vibram took the full plunge into the digital pool by investing all 2009 funds online -- and the company currently has no plans to turn back. Through its digital efforts, Vibram was able to effectively leverage the power of the web and, ultimately, make the connection with consumers it was seeking. Vibram soles are a prevalent component among top running shoe brands, but the company is not well known by name for its distinct technology. The company wanted to increase awareness among hard-core trail runners about the superior performance of Vibram-soled running shoes across multiple brands in which they are a component (e.g., Saucony and Patagonia). The company shifted its full media budget online, and, by utilizing a strategic mix of paid and earned media for the first time, the results paid off. It's all in the mix Vibram used a combination of digital tactics to surround hard-core trail runners with a comprehensive Vibram message across the digital spaces they frequent. Ads ran on top running sites (e.g., Runnersworld.com and Trailrunnermag.com) to reach target trail runners at destinations where they were most likely to be considering shoe options. The company employed interactive and engaging creative that was lifestyle relevant and piqued readers' interest. Ad placements were targeted within gear sections and trail-running shoe guides. Rich media banner creative included 60-second custom video featuring a unique magnifying glass interaction. The brand also got social. Vibram identified a core group of trail-running bloggers and online writers and provided them with Vibram-soled Patagonia and Saucony trail running shoes for trial and review. Select giveaways to readers were also provided. Vibram gave bloggers access to company representatives for more-detailed product information and was able to directly engage and build a relationship with this influencer group. Vibram kept the conversation going throughout the trail-running season and opened doors for future interactions. The results The media campaign ran for five months beginning in February 2009. It garnered a total of 3.1 million paid media impressions and 100,000 social media impressions Return on relationship: Pre- and post-campaign survey results tell the story: Pre-campaign: 57 percent surveyed had limited brand awareness prior to campaign Post-campaign: 100 percent surveyed said Vibram components will play a determining role in purchase decision in the future; 100 percent surveyed are more likely to recommend and buy Vibram soled shoes in the future Bloggers told an average of 31 others about Vibram soles, in addition to their blog reader base. Here's a sampling of their powerful words: "I had heard of Vibram before and have had some shoes with Vibram soles, but didn't know about all the sports related shoes they were associated with." "I have mentioned Vibram to probably about 50-100 people. If you own a running website everyone wants to talk to you about running." "I never considered purchasing a [...]
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 16:00:00 +0000
Founded in 2002 by designer Paul Budnitz, Kidrobot is the premier creator of limited-edition art toys and apparel. In collaboration with many of the world's most talented artists and designers, its toys blend sculpture, popular art, and exclusivity to create a highly collectible and often extremely rare product.
To promote the launch of its new Dunny Series toys, Kidrobot worked with creative studio We Are Plus to develop a non-traditional marketing campaign using social media, mobile technology and apps, and guerilla street teams.
Coined the Dunny Hunt NYC '09, the five-day campaign took place one week prior to the formal launch of the toys. The campaign guided participants on a virtual and physical scavenger hunt across downtown Manhattan. Hunters used their smartphones to scan quick response (QR) codes on specially designed promotional materials to become eligible for daily prizes and the grand prize (a full set of the 2009 Dunny Series).
Kidrobot collected numerous online media impressions that spanned from niche titles to global mainstream marketing publications. Meanwhile, on the streets of NYC, the Dunny Hunt '09 campaign engaged more than 500 hardcore Kidrobot fans and played a significant role in driving sales at the company's ecommerce site and retail store.
We knew that Kidrobot's trendsetting first-adopter culture would not react to a typical direct response campaign. With more than 20,000 subscribers on Twitter alone, Kidrobot fans are part of a generation that uses the internet, mobile phones, and word of mouth to communicate with each other and the brands they follow.
With the annual Dunny Series release, Kidrobot has continued to put a lot of energy and thought into finding fun, intriguing promotions that engage its fans and invite active participation. "Kidrobot is known for its toys, clothing, and store design," explained Budnitz. "But more than anything else, Kidrobot is a community and cultural experience. We're constantly finding new ways to involve our community in what we do."
For We Are Plus, the biggest challenge was working across the blend of different platforms to bring a new mobile technology into the final creative and strategic solution.
Thu, 14 Jan 2010 16:00:00 +0000
Based in New York and London, Last Exit splits its clients evenly between agencies like McCann and Dentsu, as well as directly with brands.
There are a lot of campaigns that run on Facebook. Frankly, most of them miss the big idea of the platform, which is to add value to users, not distract from what people prefer to do on the site.
But Last Exit's work on the Canon "My Story" campaign illustrates what brands can do to enhance, rather than detract from, the user experience on social networks.
Through the power of a simple Facebook app, Last Exit helped Canon inject itself into an activity that is practically a Facebook pastime -- uploading, tagging and viewing photos.
Biggest Challenge Facing Digital Right Now?
"The most challenging thing about digital now is to keep existing and prospective clients off the track of following hype and pursuing cool for its own sake, and [instead] keeping them on the path of delivering long-term value," says Last Exit partner Nuri Djavit.
Wed, 29 Apr 2009 16:00:00 +0000
What do you do if a campaign's creative budget gets cut by 20 percent? Do you say the creative will be 20 percent less impactful and call it a day?
Sadly, falling budgets, especially in the area of production, are a challenge a lot of companies in this business are facing.
Complicating that challenge is the push for more integrated campaigns. That means more assets spread across a broader range of media environments -- not exactly the route to lower creative costs.
But the best way to maintain quality with a smaller budget may not be by producing assets in less quantity, but rather by doing things differently. As campaign planning becomes more integrated, the increased awareness of how all media are interconnected can open up new opportunities for improved efficiencies.
Here are seven ways that an integrated approach to campaign development can help you accomplish better results with the creative assets you develop.
Thu, 30 Apr 2009 16:00:00 +0000
Every night, in children's rooms around the world, the words "tell me a story" precede tales that amuse, educate, and engage. The art of storytelling has transcended time, culture, even medium, taking the form of carvings, paintings, the written word, television, and film.
It is also beginning to live on the web. Consider the "digital fiction" that's being produced by book publishers like Penguin Books in the U.K. Its most current feature is told entirely through Google Maps. New applications, tools, and technology are allowing authors to tell vivid tales for consumers on the web.
As marketers, we can do the same.
Our job can be bewildering, though. As we focus on the minutia of web and banner ad development, it's easy to get caught up in the execution of our projects and forget there's something behind all of that: the story of the brand. Think of a website or online ad campaign as a book. If you were writing that book, you wouldn't jump directly to the ending (or in marketing terms, your ultimate objective). You would progress through the chapters one by one and dutifully craft a procedure for how to take the reader there.
In storytelling for interactive marketing and advertising, it's not about the destination. It's about the journey.
Storytelling in cross-media campaigns
Sometimes, that story is a journey in the true sense of the word. Think about the Banana Republic holiday ad campaign that ran a few years back. Consumers were invited to watch fictitious stories like "Lost Mitten" (which incorporated the brand's winter apparel) unfold through print ads. The ads acted as teasers for a microsite at holidaystory.com, where consumers could go to find out how the narratives played out.
This year, the brand launched a new series of stories to promote its spring line. Through its new "City Stories" campaign and related microsite, it delivers audio and video clips of up-and-coming musicians, and tells the true accounts of how each artist -- clad in Banana Republic clothing -- is inspired by the city in which he or she lives.
The stories told by the American Egg Board's new campaign are also true, and highlight the health benefits of its product as almost a secondary mission. The cross-media campaign and new section on brand site incredibleegg.org tell incredible stories of people like Luke Myers, world record holder for sport stacking, and Luci Romberg, a gymnast, free runner, and stunt woman. The site also invites consumers to tell their own stories of incredible physical and mental skill, and participate in skill-testing online games.
Tue, 14 Apr 2009 16:00:00 +0000Last month, the Online Publishers Association announced an initiative that it says is designed "to help stimulate a renaissance of creative advertising on the internet that meets the needs of marketers by better integrating their messages into the fabric of the web." As a part of the new initiative, a group of OPA members will be implementing new -- and significantly larger -- interactive display advertising units across their sites. Following last month's iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Florida, iMedia asked a group of interactive marketers what the OPA's proposed new advertising units will mean for the future of online display. The response, though generally optimistic, was peppered with words of caution. Lauren Boyer, partner and chief global strategist at Underscore Marketing, LLC, says she applauds the OPA for trying to solve for the waning engagement rates that the industry has been experiencing. "The notion of increasing impact and enabling stronger metrics is worthwhile, but will bigger ads really be better?" she asks. "While it's not the first solution that comes to mind, we're willing to trust their collective judgment and test." Similarly, creative marketing strategist Adam Broitman says he applauds what the OPA is trying to do -- but he has little confidence that innovation can be driven by ad unit sizes or functions. "Bigger, more disruptive units do tend to have higher clickthrough rates, but they do not provide for a better user experience (per se)," he says. "If I worked for the OPA, I would make my rounds to various agencies and showcase best-in-class ads that leverage standard units and encourage creative thinking. On the other hand, Brian Hadley, partner and media director at Cole & Weber United, says he's looking forward to the new display advertising units. "It is a great opportunity for advertisers and agencies to really create engaging experiences that connect with consumers," he says. "I think this also has implications in how sites are designed and how users experience their favorite content. "Shifting away from the visually sub-fractional and classified nature of online advertising helps to provide the necessary real estate for advertisers to communicate effectively," Hadley adds. "The proposed formats generate a visual dominance which more closely aligns with other media like newspaper, magazine, or television." As an example, Hadley points to magazines, in which the back-of-the-book classified ads and content look very similar to most web experiences today. However, the new OPA display units will be much more akin to the full page, half page, and one-third page ads found accompanying the front-of-book feature content in a magazine. "The difference will be night and day both in experience and performance," Hadley says. Similarly, Jordan Berg, co-founder and chief creative officer for Questus, says that the bigger ad units will enable brands to tell a more complete story. "The future success of online ads hinges on these larger placements with enhanced features such as video, sound, and interactivity," he says. "Real creative breakthroughs for online ad creative will flourish under these new sizes. Brands and agencies will create 'ad experiences' that will rival the content they sit next to." Hadley notes that the transition to the new ad units will be slow as publishers redefine their revenue structures, as well as their value on the media plan, with proposed units. "I[...]
Fri, 03 Apr 2009 16:00:00 +0000Editor's note: This article originally ran in VentureBeat. Not much about the future of advertising looks certain right now. Will newspapers become a niche medium? Will advertisers stop footing the bill for network TV if they don't get more control over content? Will Google find a way to monetize YouTube before Hulu steals its whole audience? And in the short term, what's going to happen to those of us who rely on marketing budgets to keep our companies afloat? Amid the chaos, a few certainties have emerged. Among them is the idea that, at least over the next year, advertisers will try to make the most of their smaller budgets by putting their money into digital media. They're doing this not only because advertising dollars go further on the web, but because those dollars are more easily tracked, measured, and accounted for online. Which means now is as good a time as any to talk about why that's such a bad idea. Don't get me wrong -- as vice president of strategic development at Tribal Fusion, the fifth largest global ad network, the last thing I want to do is discourage advertisers from investing more of their money on the web. Indeed, I'm thrilled at the prospect of major advertisers increasing their investment in digital media, where they can indeed accomplish much more for considerably less. But if all you want to do with your advertising dollars online is track them, you might as well keep them under your mattress. What makes for great advertising on the web is no different from what makes for great advertising in a magazine, TV show, billboard, or the underside of a Snapple bottle cap: creativity. If your web advertising doesn't start with that, it won't end with the results you're after. But too often I see web campaigns that start and end with an obsession over a single thing: impressions. Advertisers want to know how many clicks, how many eyeballs, how many unique views they can rack up through the placement, far and wide, of their ad units. What they want is the banner seen 'round the world, rather than the idea that electrifies it. And while it's surely easier (and perhaps temporarily better for your job security) to count millions of impressions and claim you're making a difference, the fact remains that impressions or clicks will never measure whether you're having an actual impact on your audience. In short, it's time to stop counting impressions and start making them. Look at what marketers like Burger King have done online. Subservient Chicken, the bizarrely entertaining site that let consumers issue demands to a giant chicken in what appeared to be real time ("chicken your way," get it?), changed the way we look at what is possible with digital media. It's hard to imagine anyone arriving at such an inspired idea if all they were focusing on was how many clicks or impressions they could get, yet that site was seen by so many people it qualified as a bona fide phenomenon, one of the first in interactive marketing. But I fear that as the economy worsens and marketers grow even tighter-fisted with their ad dollars, the industry's obsession with safe, easily distributed banner ads will only take a firmer hold. But we have to move past that obsession and get on a path to creativity, the thing that inspired all of us to get into this business in the first place. I say this not to disparage the banner ad. Banner ads were first and are ubiquitous and[...]
Thu, 19 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000
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Tue, 17 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000While some are bemoaning a lack of creativity in the interactive field, Lars Bastholm begs to differ. According to Bastholm, co-chief creative officer for AKQA, there's plenty of inspired thinking and creativity waiting to spring forth -- restrictive formats are just damming the creative flow.Staunch regulations for banners and overbearing mobile carriers are stopping agencies from flexing their creative muscles and developing truly great campaigns. When it comes to mobile, the U.S. is a third-world country, and it's simply the carriers that are holding it back. Save the date! Hear more from Lars Bastholm during his iMedia Breakthrough Summit keynote, "Advertising & Innovation: Fusing the Big Idea with the Business," March 22 in Coconut Point, Florida. Request your invitation today! "Once they realize what the rest of the world has realized, then we're going to see leaps and bounds in creativity and the possibilities for doing interesting stuff online and on mobile phones," Bastholm said.A respected member of the interactive community for 14 years, Bastholm has won dozens of international awards for his campaigns. After starting up Grey Interactive, he served as creative director for Framfab in Copenhagen and has been an integral part of AKQA since 2004. iMedia recently caught up with him to discuss his creative process, the fields that limit creativity, and how he keeps AKQA at the head of the interactive pack. Lars Bastholm is co-chief creative officer for AKQA. iMedia: Without thinking, name your favorite device, application, and website.Lars Bastholm: Totally the iPhone, without a doubt, and for a very specific reason. To me, the fact that it's a phone is somewhat irrelevant. It's the fact that it's completely changed the way I interact with data on the go. I literally access anything that I need at a computer, wherever I am, and that's just changed the way I interact with content and data.For applications, it's Twitterrific to Twitter. Whenever I travel I use that a lot. I use Yelp a lot to find restaurants wherever I am. There are just tons of applications that allow you to make shortcuts that are simpler and easier for you. And like so many others, my communication has moved to Twitter for the time being, so right now, I can't live without that website. iMedia: AKQA has been named "agency of the year" by several publications in the past. Do you see the agency as frontrunner in the digital space? How do you stay ahead of the pack?Bastholm: I guess so. We're always trying to imagine what will happen two to three years in the future and how we can best prepare ourselves for that eventuality. So far, that's worked out fairly well for us in terms of being on the right beat and finding which technologies to use and which sectors to kind of gamble on. I think one of the big advantages of AKQA is that we're basically a collection of people who are really into what we're doing. We talk amongst ourselves all the time about what's next, how we need to change in order to adapt to what's next, and how the work is going to change. And how do we do that? Obviously we read a ton of blogs and a ton of stuff that's going on online. Everybody spends a good amount of time online just to see what's happening, what's changing, and what's starting to emerge.iMedia: You mentioned taking gambles on new technologies. [...]
Fri, 13 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000Marshall McLuhan's famous declaration that "The medium is the message" has evangelized one of our industry's greatest and most progressive challenges. For the most part, media and creative camps have been able to co-exist almost independently (or mutually exclusive) of one another. The work has commonly suffered because the system is not only self-preserving, but also runs on conflicting business models and ideologies. As medium and message become more and more aligned, and as the evolution of Web 2.0 spawns a new movement in which web applications are rapidly replacing web destinations, media and creative camps need to work together more. In other words, media should win out as an equal partner in creative and product development. All we need to do is look at the work of some of the world's biggest brands and their respective agencies for inspiration. Say what you will about the creative (and the freakish ability to generate buzz), but Crispin, Porter + Bogusky's work for Volkswagen, Microsoft and, most recently, Burger King speaks to an innovative and well-balanced execution of medium and message. Eliciting taste tests in somewhat natural environments, the "Whopper Drive-Thru" and "Whopper Virgins" campaigns seek to blend what amounts to user-generated content with traditional channels such as broadcast. Online activations have further leveraged buzz around these initiatives and, if nothing else, have optimized search results. More importantly, people are talking about the brand offline, bringing new insights back online -- and the brand is listening. "Whopper Sacrifice" was an interesting follow-up initiative as it played on the behavioral characteristics of user generation and turned the phenomenon of "acquiring friends" on its head -- before it was shut down, of course. But was this a failure in the end? Just the opposite. Nearly 234,000 Facebook users were "de-friended" in the pursuit of a Whopper. That amounted to more than 23,000 coupons for free Whoppers (the cap was set at 25,000), and participants who deleted 10 friends before the application was closed down still received their coupons via snail mail. Traditional advocates of "ROI" take note: social media and DM vehicles worked together to provide results that were not only measurable, but that also equated to direct sales. The real takeaway here is that everything is "user-generated" when you really think about it -- from your TV spots, to your print ads, to your more obvious social media applications and utilities. The question is really whether or not you recognize this collaboration and are willing to combine resources to actually do something with it. Droga5's brilliant work on The Tap Project for UNICEF -- in which millions of people will commit to using tap water in lieu of energy-wasting bottles -- is a great example of how very little, if any, paid media is being used to create widespread engagement, vis-a-vis real-world experiences that have a higher purpose. And how is this being done? Primarily through social media and good ol' word-of-mouth. This also suggests that discerning tastes and common interest can rule the day, all the while showing potential for profit. However, there are two sides to this coin. Take Honeyshed, for instance, Droga5's extensive foray into a platform that would "reinvent shopping for the digit[...]
Wed, 11 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000
It's funny. It's quirky. It's sleepy, perhaps squeaky. Cute -- as in the world of baby animals and charming cartoons -- has come out with a vengeance recently, adding a soft, syrupy stripe to everything from software to running shoes to carbon emissions. Aided by the immense popularity of websites that serve up all things cute, like icanhascheezburger.com (ICHC) and cutethingsfallingasleep.org, online ad campaigns with cuddly appeal are gaining eyeballs.
Antidote to a downturn
Cute is almost universally appealing -- after all, it tends to produce feelings of good cheer and comfort. But cute is enjoying a particularly high level of popularity right now. Sites that feature animals in cute poses, like cuteoverload.com, are getting millions of hits a month and have garnered mass media attention.
In a no-holds-barred tribute to these sites, a video ad produced for the Samsung Ultra Touch phone features various baby animals mimicking human activities on sets built to scale. It even includes an "evil hedgehog" scene that shows, in the background, cutesy lingo created on ICHC.(object) (embed)
Meanwhile, the ad's strong cute factor earned it a free spot on ICHC's competitor site cuteoverload.com.
Nick Malis, founder of cutethingsfallingasleep.org and the spin-off cutethingslaughing.com, said his original site suddenly took off in December, about the time the economic crisis was deepening. Since then, it has become the 15th most-searched term on Google and currently attracts a quarter million hits a day.
"The world is kind of screwed up right now... and people want to see cute, happy stuff when things are scary," said Malis, who started the site in 2006 as a collection of YouTube videos he found showing animals and babies falling asleep. Malis has landed on so many television shows recently -- including "The Today Show" and CNN -- that he's now a self-proclaimed expert on "cute."
Cute has even become a world of its own, evidenced by the slightly snarky, cliquey icanhascheezburger.com. Something of a cult site for cat lovers, ICHC has its own grammatically hybridized language and inside jokes. The site claims to have millions of users per month. "Our fans (aka 'Chzfrenz') savor their escape to ICHC everyday," the site notes.
Thu, 12 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000Some evolutionary biologists cite the concept of punctuated evolution; change is not a smooth curve, but a series of jumps as organisms react to external conditions. Say what you will about the evolution of man, but the concept of leapfrogging is very applicable in the marketing space. In our worsening economy, marketers must adapt, in some cases quite abruptly. But funds dry up, and dollars become scarcer. Few have the funds or time to start from scratch and build something epic. This is where innovative thought becomes especially crucial to survival. The bad news is that the stakes are higher, the resources are scarce, and some will find themselves burdened with implacable constraints. The good news is that innovative output is driven by creative thought, and leapfrogging is doable even in challenging circumstances. By exploring the creative process, this article will discuss how marketers can use the tools they have at hand to succeed under even the most challenging circumstances. We'll review some examples of game-changing campaigns, and explore how a marketing team can set the stage for low-cost, high-impact innovation. Think small, in a big wayDrew Breunig makes a great argument about innovation. Often, consumers have trouble seeing beyond their current world, or adapting to things which are totally foreign. It's not always about the epic change that blows their mind, but more about the smaller tweaks that can change everything. Think about online social networking. Social graphs are not new phenomena -- they have been around for ages -- and the web, as a tool to share information, has been commonplace for a decade at this point. But new combinations of existing technologies and functionalities provided the consumer base with new opportunities to communicate, and new ways for brands to reach their constituencies. Another example would be rich internet applications; revolutionary applications like GoogleMaps leverage technologies that have actually been around for some time. But how does this translate for a marketer with a limited budget and a stressed executive team? In a few different ways. For example, leveraging best practices from other fields can provide a competitive advantage when upgrading a website or other digital promotion. Consider that insurance companies don't have the best brand perception among consumers. People find them intimidating, and think that the service provider is out to get them. By adopting a rich interface more commonly seen in a retail site, insurance provider HumanaOne managed to surmount these challenges and create an award winning experience. Don't win the game, change itInnovation isn't always about finding a solution to a particular challenge so much as changing the context of the problem. In this economic environment, risking a new approach may well prove to be more successful than embracing a known challenge. Think of gaming, for example. Forced to compete with the consumer electronics giant Sony and the software behemoth Microsoft, Nintendo was faced with a costly, grueling deathmatch with no guarantee of success. Instead of running a risky approach to create costlier machines with better graphics and compelling gameplay for the typical console audience, it developed a platform with a di[...]
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000Late in 2008, iMedia was approached by Sandra Kumorowski, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, with an interesting opportunity. Sandra wanted to find a way to incorporate some of the resources on iMedia Connection into a graduate class she was teaching on integrated marketing communications. We developed the cooperative project as a creative case study/competition, presenting the class with a fictional challenge that reflects a very relevant marketing concern: develop an integrated marketing campaign strategy that will serve to bolster the American automotive category, which has been challenged by international competition, economic, and environmental factors, as well as by ever-changing consumer behaviors. The resulting campaigns were reviewed by a panel of interactive marketing experts, who judged the proposals based on key points in the digital campaign process: originality/creativity; effectiveness of media integration; appropriateness for the target audience; ability to be executed; and potential for a strong return on investment. Though all the proposals showed the talent and skill of this group of future marketers, the panel ultimately found one that stood out from the crowd. The winning campaign, What's Fresh in the American Auto Industry, follows, along with some comments from the panel on what made this campaign worthy of sharing with the marketing community. We hope that the project shines some light on the next wave of talent in interactive marketing: students, who will soon be offering up their skills to an industry that is always looking for the next big idea. The panelists: Doug Schumacher, president/creative director, Basement, Inc. Hilary Weber, director of internet marketing services, Kaiser Permanente Adam Broitman, director of strategy/ringleader, Crayon Adam Kleinberg, CEO, Traction Chad Beasley, VP of sales, Jumpstart Automotive Media John Gray, VP of interactive media, Enlighten Liza Hausman, VP of marketing, Gigya Eric Druckenmiller, VP of media, Deep Focus Dea Lawrence, VP of West coast sales, Pointroll Keith Pape, VP, After10StudiosJay Friedman, partner, Goodway Group The winning team:Sinya Wu Kimberly Galitz Christina MartinicoKris SlaboszewskiJamie Kuntanarumitul Next page >> Add a comment[...]
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 16:00:00 +0000Having spent more than 10 years responding to client and agency RFPs, I've come to the conclusion that the RFP should be renamed "CYA." While the intention behind the RFP is good -- creating a structured process whereby solutions can be evaluated objectively -- the execution is not. And it is often a complicated, time-consuming process in which firms wildly overpromise and are judged largely on price.
Tue, 17 Feb 2009 16:00:00 +0000
The lessons of the "rags to riches" Obama campaign continue to inspire marketers of all disciplines, even those involved in corporate rebranding and launch events. This article applies the Obama playbook to the launch of a new corporate brand and is based on interviews conducted with communications leaders at major corporations, including Xerox, ArcelorMittal, Grant Thornton, and Thomson Reuters, among others.
Stand for something
Obama combined a simple, rational message -- Change -- with an emotional and empowering call-to-action: Yes we can. Competing candidates quickly adopted the change mantra, but Obama's status as an outsider, and the fact that he was there first, rendered his positioning unassailable.
Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates writes, "The most successful brands today are based on ideas that are not just different and relevant, but simple." Johnson Controls, in its 2007 rebranding, adopted a simple tagline, "Ingenuity Welcome" -- a signal to customers, prospects, current, and future employees. And they followed this up with an annual Ingenuity Day devoted to new product brainstorming by all employees. Smith & Nephew, the British medical products conglomerate, restructured and identified its mission as "helping people regain their lives by repairing and healing the human body." And when Canadian-based Thomson acquired U.K.-based Reuters, it identified the simple and clear goal of becoming "One Company in one Year."
Capture and empower your fan base
Obama broke new ground for a political candidate by his use of the web to build a database of supporters and to engage them in a conversation, ultimately using his disciples to spread his message. In a similar vein, Deloitte Touche recently encouraged employees worldwide to create short videos on what Deloitte means to them. The Deloitte Film Festival resulted in 370 videos, created by employees at all levels of the firm, engaging more than 1,200 participants. This initiative substantially strengthened the firm's global community. Released on YouTube, the films introduce the firm to potential young employees in a uniquely relevant way.
Tue, 10 Feb 2009 16:00:00 +0000In the interactive marketing industry, we have access to a much richer and broader range of data than our offline media counterparts, yet traditional marketing still remains far ahead in implementing and executing campaign testing measures. Part of this is because of the tendency within online advertising to focus purely on the standard suite of performance metrics, which drastically limits the ability to optimize and leverage key aspects for a particular campaign. Conversely, the utilization of simple, classic testing methods provides more useful performance metrics and allows for a proper analysis of how your marketing efforts are truly expanding your sales and brand. Practices such as systematic testing, maintaining control groups, and establishing "A/B" splits have been leveraged for decades. In fact, John Caples -- the famous copywriter and a cornerstone of testing methods in advertising -- speaks of instances where ads can perform at 19 times the conversion rate by making only the slightest adjustment. What does Caples say is the key to good advertising?"The answer is testing, testing, testing... Based on proven results, they [marketers] then spend the bulk of their advertising dollars on tested copy in tested media," Caples wrote in his book, "Tested Advertising Methods."Without running well-planned, methodical testing on your campaign, how will you know the true gains in your marketing spend? How are you justifying your media plan? And when was the last time you actually executed a test campaign, used a control group, or ran an A/B test with different creative, offers, or even target audiences? If the recent economic downturn isn't enough to incite your interest, here are just a few more reasons why you should put these practices in place.1. Test campaigns These are critical for developing base-level metrics for all marketing activity -- measures that will be used as benchmarks for your future campaigns. Since the aim of marketing is to create a larger, more-engaged audience for your products and services, we need to find out how large and engaged that audience was prior to the latest campaign. By running a simple campaign, with a basic creative or logo, we can estimate what results your brand experiences on its own. This is a basic principle, and gives you a benchmark to compare against the success of future campaigns. Is it compelling enough to tell your CMO that a recent campaign drew 1,500 sales with a 0.5 percent conversion rate, or would you rather report that your latest ad wizardry resulted in a conversion increase of more than 500 percent? 2. Control groups Yet another underutilized tool. A well executed control group will consist of a segment of people who will not be exposed to the marketing elements you'll be testing. Our marketing predecessors would previously identify key localities on which to perform these tests, selecting one region to remove from their campaign's exposure. There are many challenges in maintaining "clean" control groups, as people freely move from region to region, but this is easily solved and implemented by the very nature of online advertising. Many ad servers can quickly de[...]
Wed, 28 Jan 2009 16:00:00 +0000
What happened to schmaltz? The sorts of ads in which kids ran and hugged their moms in delirious approval for peanut butter sandwiches or quilted toilet paper -- these used to be the keystones of branding, at least in mom-centric dayparts. What happened to enjoinders to "Bake someone happy?" Or puffy doughboys giggling when poked? Or bottles of fluorescent whitening agents giving mommas the magic?
What happened to schmaltz? And maudlin? And "slice of death"?
Digital happened. Since the advent of digital, the number of brands using humor to deliver their messages has grown markedly. One can only surmise that this is because humor "works." It works at both connecting brands to audiences and at reshaping brand imagery in powerful ways.
Of course, humor doesn't always deliver results for brands. Many have tried to "do" humor and have flopped. Sometimes the jokes get overshadowed by the ferric fist of brand identity. Sometimes we laugh at the ad and forget the brand. And sometimes the humor is gratuitous -- a way to attract attention, but not shaped to serve brand messaging goals.
Humor is hard to do, but perhaps even harder is crafting funny programs and messages that deliver real brand benefits. As we all know, assessing the impact of any creative on brand strength is pretty squishy science. But we can identify creative programs that drove buzz and virality online, and through this identification process attempt to tease out some core principles of brand beneficial humor.
So let's begin, shall we?
Fri, 23 Jan 2009 16:00:00 +0000More often than not, Renny Gleeson's attention is captured by content developed by people working in a proverbial basement than by brand-funded campaigns. The global director of interactive strategies at Wieden + Kennedy thinks that's a good thing, but it's also a challenge because of what it exposes. Most brands are pledging time and money to interactive because they simply think they should, whereas average social media sensations do it because they care. The motivation factor and differences between the two is exponential, he says. iMedia connected with Gleeson at his home base in Portland, Ore., to ask what keeps his creative juices flowing, and how his passion for motorcycles and rock climbing might play into his charge to lead all things digital at W+K. iMedia: What disruptive technologies are you most interested in? Renny Gleeson: From a technology standpoint, I'd say that the things I focus on are mobility and the impact of it -- social media, but not from the standpoint of how I can get banners out so much as how it's changing us culturally. And then the third big bucket I'd say that I look at a lot is gaming... those are probably the three that keep me up at night. Interestingly, there's this sort of "Revenge of the Nerds" thing where there's a belief that by playing role-playing games and video games and by using social media, which almost by definition means you couldn't get a date, that somehow those three are now the core curriculum required to have any chance of success in the medium. It just so happens that those are all qualifications I have, but it does feel a little shaudenfreuder. iMedia: Can you give your basic elevator pitch for a good campaign? What's your most valuable pitching tip? Gleeson: At the end of the day, it's showing how your work connects with people's hearts... If there isn't any insight that connects people's hearts to your brand, then you kind of wasted it. iMedia: How has W+K's digital strategy changed since you came on board? Renny Gleeson, global director of interactive strategies at Wieden + Kennedy Gleeson: I like to flatter myself by saying I've helped focus the strategy and expand it. I think the pieces have been here. I mean, think back to what W+K was doing in the early 2000s. I don't know if you remember the whole CK1 campaign, where you could sign up for this soap opera by email. Or maybe you remember the Beta-7 campaign for Sega, where the beta tester was having epileptic fits as a result of the intensity of the action in the football game, and Sega was trying to cover it up. I think there has been some pretty interesting work that has come out of W+K. It's both a challenge and an opportunity that what people seem to remember most is some of our most iconic TV work, but that's certainly not the only thing that we do by any stretch. To be fair, W+K was not going as fast forward into this space as it was willing to do in others. It was just a matter of focus, effort, time, staffing, discipline, and mind share -- things like that. So my job has really been three things: You need to make sure you've got [...]
Thu, 22 Jan 2009 16:00:00 +0000Plop, plop, fizz fizz.Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize.What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs? Once upon a time...there were jingles: catchy little sing-songy tunes that immediately embedded themselves in your brain, and then stayed there... forever. If radio created the jingle, then TV surely perfected it; matching the invasive earworm with irresistible eye candy to create the perfect pop culture confection: the much-maligned, yet still viable 30-second spot. It is a tempting oversimplification to think that people weren't nearly as evolved or as pop-culture savvy back when there were only a handful of radio stations, three networks and some local TV stations. The truth is that consumers were captivated largely by a strangely compelling combination of novelty and repetition, and it worked like a charm... and still does today. By creating irresistible melodies with clever messaging (and later actually co-opting pop songs to enhance a brand) marketers were able to tap into a very basic human behavior...the simple act of mimicry. This Pavlovian call/response pattern immediately burned new and lasting neuron pathways in the minds and hearts of consumers, with the true value of them yet to be even realized. Our pioneering Madison Ave predecessors had stumbled upon the marketing equivalent of the "Manchurian Candidate." Those simple jingles had and still have the lasting ability to reach across time to trigger what I like to call "dormant brand equity," activating vast legions of consumers at anytime, just like Laurence Harvey's programmed response to seeing the Queen of Hearts… except, of course, that the call to action here is to pull the trigger on a purchase instead of a politician. In most cases, the jingle was not only catchy... it actually described the product, what it did, and why you need it, in a bite-sized mantra that was as fun as a Mother Goose rhyme, or as addictive as a schoolyard taunt. Today, things are very different... or are they? We have at our command greater reach; the ability to micro-target; miles and miles of documented psychographic research and the cold, hard data to back up any campaign... so why is it still hit and miss to use a memorable tune to get consumers to dial into your brand? In our never-ending quest to try the latest, greatest new technology and jump feet first into the ever-fragmenting consumer universe, we must not forget the lessons that Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss, and the late Johnny Cochran taught us: keep it simple, make it memorable, and surgically attach it to the consumer like that pesky face-hugger stuck to John Hurt in "Alien." Remember: "If it does not fit, you must acquit." Nostalgia can only be understood in reverse The tagline for the recent film, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is this: "Life is lived forwards, but can only be understood in reverse." As consumers and as humans, we are informed by a catalog of experiences that form our memory -- be they misty water-colored or blindingly high contrast. We are reminded of something we felt long ago, a[...]
Thu, 08 Jan 2009 16:00:00 +0000Interactive ad campaigns that miss the mark are as common as skid marks in winter. While failures are always costly, high-profile missteps can be particularly hazardous to a marketer's bottom line. We took a look at six 2008 campaigns that fomented outrage to see where they went wrong. And while it may not be fair to call any of these campaigns flops -- after all, all of these ads got the blogosphere buzzing, with mainstream media coverage as well -- we can tell you how to do better.
1. Brokeback Snickers
TBWA\Chiat\Day's Super Bowl commercial for Snickers, in which two grimy car mechanics are horrified at finding themselves unexpectedly lip-to-lip, was arguably a spoof of macho attitudes. But neither the Human Rights Campaign nor the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation thought so, calling it demeaning -- and calling for a boycott. Snickers' online component of the campaign made things worse.
Viewers could go online to choose alternate endings, which were darker and more violent than the TV version, in which the guys pull out their chest hair in an effort to "do something manly." Online, you could watch one mechanic slam a car's hood down on the other's head or hit a brutal belly blow with a wrench. Ouch! Bonus content included candid videos of the Super Bowl players going, "Eeeoouuu" when the mechanics' mouths touch.
Activists called for a boycott, amid global press coverage of the company's homophobia, not the yumminess of its product. Mars took down the website.
Okay, so the offending Super Bowl spot was way back in 2007, right? Lesson learned, right? Nope. Mars was back this past July with a TV spot in which a slender male race-walker in teensy yellow shorts is harassed by Mr. T and told to "run like a real man" and "get some nuts." The ad was promptly pulled following a new swell of protest. However, thanks to the miracle of viral media, the spot lives on via YouTube.
What we can learn
1. If you're going to engage in conversation with your customers, listen to what they say.
2. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
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Thu, 06 Nov 2008 16:00:00 +0000Over the years, marketers have spent a lot of time in pursuit of the "big idea." But do they ever stop to consider what that really means? According to Stefan Olander, global director of brand connections at Nike, the quintessential big idea isn't what it used to be. "We used to start with an ad, and then we'd build layers of interactivity," he said. "Now it starts with the need to solve a problem, and that forces us to think differently. The entertainment layer will never go away, but now it's applied in a different way." Indeed, digital technologies have transformed all media. Today, advertising is no longer about crafting a concept and pushing it out to the masses. It's about sparking a conversation -- or giving consumers the ability to talk amongst themselves. On Wednesday during ad:tech New York, Olander joined a panel of other industry experts to discuss how successful brands are reenvisioning how they connect with consumers in a digital world. In doing so, they highlighted the following five roles that successful brands are playing in consumers' lives. 1. Brands as entertainers"We all thought, in the old days, that brands bought media," said moderator Paul Woolmington, founding partner of Naked Communications. "But brands can actually become the entertainers." Not only that, but brands can also enable consumers to entertain themselves. Among myriad examples, Woolmington pointed to Cadbury's Gorilla campaign, in which an extremely expressive gorilla drums to the beat of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight." The wildly successful and entertaining campaign not only scored millions of YouTube views, but it also inspired hundreds of mashups and reinterpretations by viewers. 2. Brands as mavericksJessica Greenwood, deputy editor of Contagious Magazine, pointed out that, although McCain's failed presidential bid may have soiled the word "maverick," the idea behind the word is still something that brands can and should aspire to. "The fact that you can be subversive and be mainstream right now opens up many possibilities," she said. Among her examples, Greenwood pointed to Method hand soap, a brand that sprang up as an environmentally safe alternative to other toxic cleaners. In spite of its defiant roots, the brand has achieved tremendous widespread appeal. 3. Brands as schizophrenics (two-track branding)Brands today are not limited to a single persona. "You can be lots of different things to lots of different people," Greenwood said. "You can target the masses and the niches to really create hysteria." As an example, Greenwood pointed to the marketing genius behind "The Dark Knight." In addition to standard mainstream media materials promoting the film, its marketers created a tremendous underground phenomenon through vehicles such as Harvey Dent's campaign website. 4. Brands as benefactorsBranding isn't always just about the brand. Companies today are realizing that their campaigns also need to be useful and relevant to their con[...]
Tue, 14 Oct 2008 16:00:00 +0000A career that spans the golden years of traditional advertising to the more volatile digital age is rare to come by these days. But advertising industry icon Shelly Lazarus, CEO and chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, has truly mastered the fine art of creative and professional endurance during her 30-plus year tenure with one of the leading worldwide advertising agencies. Shelly Lazarus is CEO and chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. After joining Ogilvy in 1971, Lazarus quickly climbed the ranks of powerful ad men, setting a new course for professional women in a male-dominated industry. In short order, she became known as one of the most powerful executives in advertising. As the head of a $2 billion company, Lazarus has guided successful campaigns for most of the largest brands that Ogilvy handles, including American Express, Dove, Ford, Kraft, Kodak and IBM. And her reputation for winning and keeping the world's top brands became a valuable and irreplaceable asset for Ogilvy. Lazarus reached the pinnacle of Ogilvy's management hierarchy in 1996, when she was appointed CEO, and chairman the following year. But a little more than 10 years later, in January of next year, Lazarus will relinquish her coveted CEO title to Miles Young, a 25-year veteran of Ogilvy who has spent the last 13 years as head of its Asia Pacific region. Lazarus will still have her hands in the game, of course, retaining her chairman title and continuing to keep Ogilvy on course as one of the most high-profile agencies. But how the digital medium will transcend the advertising world is anyone's guess at this point. Lazarus had a few key pointers to share with iMedia on what Ogilvy is doing to conquer the web, and what she would have done differently in her career -- if anything. Save the date! Shelly Lazarus will be a keynote speaker at ad:tech New York, November 3-6. To learn more about how digital is transforming all media, register today for ad:tech New York. iMedia: You were once quoted as saying, "Don't underestimate the value people place on authenticity." How has this translated to helping brands gain success in such a media-saturated environment as the internet? Shelly Lazarus: I've always believed that a brand is a relationship. And like all good relationships, it is built on trust. If a brand violates that trust by doing something that its customers consider false or inauthentic, it risks serious and sometimes irreparable damage to its reputation. If a brand makes a misstep, it is always best to own up to it and address it head on, because it will be revealed. Today, consumers are in charge, and able to quickly communicate to their network. Better they talk about how trustworthy and authentic a brand is, rather than how it evaded responsibility. iMedia: Do you still ascribe to your theory of 360-degree branding? Has it become harder or easier to accomplish this in the digital environment? Lazarus: At Ogilvy, we belie[...]
Fri, 29 Aug 2008 16:00:00 +0000
Tue, 19 Aug 2008 16:00:00 +0000"Advertising is based on one thing… happiness. Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance 'whatever you're doing, its ok, you are ok.'" (Don Draper, "Mad Men") I am trying to find my happy place. We are at a hotel in Portland, two days into a much-needed family vacation. Write the byline First a diversion. I've queued up the first season of "Mad Men." I am a bit late to the show, but now it's time to gorge. I'm on vacation, after all. Maybe it will inspire. Writing the byline. Would kill for a cigarette. Did people really smoke that much? Too bad we can't make it healthier. People in the ad biz always talk about advertising as culture creation. Like all good vocationally-based TV series, the creators of "Mad Men" understand the business. And they have created a hero true to the craft. Don Draper has a gift indeed. He understands what moves us. He has a sense for what we need from advertising. I've thought about online advertising a whole lot over the past couple of years. I've participated in countless panels debating the future of advertising and the importance in remaking it for a social web. The refrain is familiar and, quite frankly, exhausting: "Social media doesn't monetize." "The banner is dead." "Advertising needs to become a conversation." "Marketers need a social media strategy." All true perhaps, but one thing is missing… joy. Online advertising is no fun. It's no fun for consumers. The banner has a very hard time making us feel anything at all. For all of the excitement around ad innovation in Silicon Valley, fun has not been at the top of the list. It seems to me that Silicon Valley doesn't really like advertising; it likes efficiency. Efficiency drove the first wave of advertising, and the medium was successfully colonized by direct response dollars. But if we are going to chip away at brand budgets, we are going to have to do a much better job at making ads fun. When was the last time you enjoyed interacting with an ad online? I loved the Mac vs. PC ad I saw a couple of months back; I've seen some really cool IBM ads recently too. But these are exceptions. For online advertising to reach its fullest potential for brands, it has to make people happy. And it has to be way easier for people to get something out of it. Next time you plan a campaign, try thinking about three things: the user's happiness, how to extend it and how to use the countless resources the web offers to make this happen. HappinessFocus less on the immediate action and more on immediate enjoyment. After all, isn't this is what brand advertising is all about? The biggest single change the internet has brought to brand marketing is user empowerment. In a demand-based world, consumers elect to spend time with commercial messages. Good ads are content or [...]
Tue, 19 Aug 2008 16:00:00 +0000I was watching "Mad Men" last night (if you're in advertising or marketing and aren't watching, start tuning in) and I came up with a concept that may be prescient: sex doesn't sell. What? Am I crazy? "Sex sells" is one of the most pervasive memes in advertising. Hike up a women's skirt, show some cleavage, throw in a volleyball and voila, beer commercial. It even seems as though the phrase is used by clients and account people everywhere simply as a way to justify the usage of scantily clad women in advertising. But why do they do this? Because the subtlety of what is happening in that ad is lost on them. What's the real draw in a campaign that uses sexual imagery? It is the feeling you get from the advertisement that sells the product -- not the sex itself. The subtlety, nuance and innuendo; the allure. Tying the idea of sex in with a product works very well in the good ol' US of A because we are an amazingly sexually repressed nation. Don’t think so? Well, then, let me venture into territory that is going to make you feel a little uncomfortable, a little dirty, a little naughty... a frank discussion of your sexual desires... You didn't think I would go there, did you? And yet, you stuck around to read more, just in case. That, my friends, is advertising: the ability to manipulate. It's ok, though. You're alone. No one is watching you. And that, my new-found frustrated, annoyed friends, is the beauty of the internet (as well as one of its most powerful assets) -- the anonymity of consumption. Our sessions are private -- well at least from the standpoint of the initial consumption (it's all being tracked somewhere, but not having to be with other individuals in-person during consumption somehow opens us up to permissiveness). Online, we will consume, take in and absorb that which would be considered offensive in polite company. It is the duality of our public and private selves. What is permissible online is not permissible in other media because those media are often consumed communally. Reading the paper on the train or bus or even at breakfast in front of your wife or husband; watching football at a bar, "Dexter" with friends (now that is one sadistic program) or reading a magazine on the subway -- these are all communal environments. For example, I ran across a banner ad for a hotel; I won't say which one, but let's just say the ad suggested some uses for their hotel rooms as a couple's getaway and what great beds they had... complete with very suggestive imagery. Needless to say, I glanced left and right when it came up, and I was at home alone. I was not on a "sex" site. Just a mundane cooking blog in the "recipes for dates" section. I thought for a second. Could I imagine that ad on TV for that brand? I think not. The calls from irate mothers "protecting" their children from the smut on TV would[...]
Thu, 31 Jul 2008 16:00:00 +0000
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Mon, 21 Jul 2008 16:00:00 +0000
Recently, our team at Basement was involved in one of the more unique experiences I've had in my career: an "Agency Shoot-out," which took place at the iMedia Entertainment Summit, in Beverly Hills.
The concept was direct enough: two agencies compete in a head-to-head pitch for a fictitious project based around the film "Casablanca." What gave it a reality-show spin was the pitch environment -- live in front of several hundred people at the Summit.
Five prestigious judges (Don Buckley, SVP, interactive marketing, Warner Bros.; Dwight Caines, EVP, Worldwide digital marketing strategy, Columbia TriStar Marketing Group; Hilary Hattenbach, VP, digital marketing, Twentieth Century Fox; Doug Neil, SVP, digital marketing, Universal Pictures; Amy Powell, SVP, interactive marketing, Paramount Pictures) were on hand to deliver critiques of each team's approach. Pretty naked stuff.
And pretty fantastic results, from both Basement and our competitors, MindComet. Thanks to a fantastic effort from my ace team at Basement, we won the pitch. Thus, I'm here to share the marketing strategy and creative thinking that brought us victory.
But before we get into what we did, let's review the challenge.
Fri, 18 Jul 2008 16:00:00 +0000Are you rational? Most of us like to think of ourselves as rational beings making logical choices. However, there's a raft of evidence telling us we are far more motivated by emotions. And who knows this better than the advertising community? If emotions rule, does it matter if advertising copy makes little sense? Does it matter if it's original? Does it matter if it confuses us? There's much talk about delivering ads, but less about writing content. Here are some common mistakes. Sloppy copyOccasionally, attention to writing meaningful copy gets ignored -- and this can lead to confusion if not outright hilarity. This is from a print ad that recently appeared in the Economist: "SDA Bocconi is Italy's number one business school, the sixth in Europe and the twenty-first in the world for the executive education, by the Financial Times." The ad makes it sound as if the Bocconi School of Management in Milan is located in a building next to the Financial Times. The last time I looked, the Financial Times was in London. Does it instill confidence? How much would it have cost to rewrite this clearly? Here is an example from the American Translators' Association (ATA) of how it can all go wrong. "…Lina's a pricy French sandwich chain, advertised for franchisees abroad…The slogan: 'Tomorrow we will expect on your dynamism.' Response: zero." Translation matters now that companies are extending their global reach. When this slogan was translated, it became meaningless. So keep in mind that if you're translating from another language into English, the translation should be done by a native English speaker. Of course we shouldn't laugh at people genuinely trying to communicate in English when it isn't their first language. But you'd think a business would have the budget to get this sort of thing right. Grand confusionThe rather grand sounding "Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme" from the Saïd Business School claims that, "Leadership cannot be taught, but leaders can be educated." Why can't you teach a leader anything? Is it a case of you can't teach an old dog new tricks? And, what does education without teaching look like? Confusion can be intentionally used to influence. When people are perplexed they search for meaning and grab onto anything that they can understand. I put this question about an education without teaching to a number of people who are smart. Eventually, someone suggested the philosopher Hannah Arendt had written on the subject. This may be true. But will prospective graduates get it -- smart though some of them are? Seeking to ignite the imaginationWhether advertising sets out to be straightforward, or create a hyperventilated fantasy, it's supposed to create desire and point to a [...]
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Tue, 17 Jun 2008 16:00:00 +0000Words are important. Some words fully and accurately capture the scope of their subject in year one as well as they do in year one thousand. Others become outdated and can actually limit those that hinge their identity on them, hindering growth and unnecessarily leaving a lot of opportunities on the table. Such is the case for the term "rich media." Why is the term no longer working for the interactive ad industry? How can it? "Rich media" was first coined in late 1999 by publishers looking to define any online ad with a file size larger than 30 to 40K, (the standard file size that most publisher ad serving platforms are limited to handle). Since that time, third-party providers like EyeWonder have risen to prominence with new technologies and serving capabilities that enable advertisers to deliver far more compelling and interactive ad campaigns than publishers' ad servers could ever handle on their own. Accordingly, Wikipedia has more recently defined rich media as "a broad range of interactive digital media that exhibit dynamic motion, taking advantage of enhanced sensory features such as video, audio and animation." Unfortunately for our industry, definitions like this can also be applied to any rich media that appears online, including on websites. In fact, most current interactive industry award events utilize the term rich media to describe their websites, not interactive advertising, and instead lump advertising into one big "display advertising" bucket. It's clear that rich media is a term that is not clearly defined and understood (even within the industry) and is at best a catch-all for an ever-widening array of interactive media. Findings of an anonymously fielded online survey of online advertising influencers conducted by EyeWonder in March 2008 highlights the inadequacies and confusion within the industry. The survey revealed that: 62 percent of the respondents agree that the term "rich media" is too "generic and meaningless." 66 percent of industry execs surveyed did not believe that "rich media" accurately defined today's online video ads. 76 percent of agency executives did not believe it to be an adequate term to cover "emerging platforms" -- mobile, IPTV, etc. 68 percent agreed that a new category name for "rich media" is needed (term "rich media" doesn't capture where digital advertising is headed in the next five years; it is too generic/meaningless). 92 percent of agency influencers had a positive to neutral opinion of the term "Interactive Digital Advertising," finding it more accurate than "rich media." One of the foremost problems with rich media is that it is at once limitless and limitin[...]
Wed, 28 May 2008 16:00:00 +0000
Tue, 27 May 2008 16:00:00 +0000The agency believes that its sales people are brilliant. But does the client? At the iMedia Agency Summit, we were reminded of that disconnect. So what is causing that divergent perception? And is it real? Unfortunately, yes, it is real. Once again, the explosion of our industry and cost cutting has forced agencies to hire the newbies... again. And, once again, due to time constraints, those newbies get relatively little training and are supposed to survive trial-by-fire, thrown in at the deep end to see if they survive. What's the problem this time? Clients are no longer the dullards they were the first time this happened, and they're noticing it now more than ever, big time. Something needs to change drastically. Every agency in our space, and every vendor for that matter, should require a three-week training course on the nuances of our industry -- the terms, the needs of that client, the competitive space. It should start with SEM, banner advertising, rich media, email, microsites, etc., and work its way all the way through ad serving limitations, measurement and research. Often what these newbies don't know when you send them out to a client meeting is stunning. What's worse is they think they are in complete control. Even worse than that? You don't even know what they don't know when you send them to that client. Fine if they don't know all the aspects of the client's business, the client understands that. But not knowing more than the client about capabilities and options in the online space, especially with the level of competency at most clients, is unforgivable. First, create an interview test for all potential new hires. Test them on everything from various media to the space in general to business models, etc. Google gives a test to all potential engineering hires, and many other companies have basic competency barometers before an applicant can even be considered. An electrician has to get certified, but in our industry? Sometimes it feels as if you only have to have a warm, attractive body to qualify for the job. Typically, the in-person interview is about personality, about their fit with the agency or vendor, and it's not about assessing competency -- since the process is only as good as the competency of those interviewing. And often, even if the interviewer is competent, they don't ask the right questions to assess whether the potential hire is able to really do the job well. The next step would be to construct a training program for all new employees after they're hired. Look, you basically only have to do it once and then just augment it with a follow[...]
Wed, 30 Apr 2008 16:00:00 +0000
Fri, 18 Apr 2008 16:00:00 +0000Way back in time, when the human race was, arguably, living in caves, man spent all his time satisfying his basic needs, like food, air, water and sex. And while some of these pursuits were as satisfying as their eventual attainment, even our primitive ancestors realized there had to be more to life than just the day to day struggle to prolong it. Then man created tools. These tools, including the old standbys like the wheel, fire and sharp rocks, afforded man the luxury of free time to pursue other interests -- like communication and artistic expression (language; cave drawings), the culinary arts (wooly mammoth tastes much better when cooked than when raw)… and probably more sex. Thus, the human race evolved. Kind of like how internet advertising evolved. At first, it focused on basic forms of communication (email and websites). Gradually, it grew more sophisticated, moving from providing basic information to improving the quality of marketing communication (behavioral targeting; search) and enriching life itself (MySpace; YouTube). This, in theory, has led to today's golden age of online marketing – where people gather in their modern "caves" and use electronic tools to interact, express themselves and acquire goods like fast food, carbonated beverages, and sex. Maslow cultureFundamentally, viral campaigns rely on marketers' ability to tap into these basic human needs and wants, as well as their means for achieving them. In his hierarchical theory of human needs, Abraham Maslow outlined many of the key principles that marketers embrace in their efforts to engage audiences in the name of this goal. If we extend his psycho-social theory of needs and wants to the practice of marketing, we get an idea of the innate drives that dictate the purchase process. For starters, there are the basic needs like, "I need to eat every day or I'll die, so I'm going to buy a sandwich at Subway," or "it's cold outside, so I’m going to buy a pair of Ugg boots to keep my feet warm." But thanks to online tools, human beings of the marketing persuasion have moved beyond satisfying basic consumer needs, and now have the free time to appeal to individual and collective desires on a more evolved level. So what do humans desire when communicating about a product or service? Well, connection is definitely on that list -- we want to connect with others, and often we do so based on shared interests. And if someone shares our interests, we want to share our discoveries on those interests. Thus, the viral marketing campaign was born[...]
Fri, 11 Apr 2008 16:00:00 +0000Why comedy is the new currency If you can make people smile….you have just disarmed them. If you can make people laugh out loud, you have just made them feel like they're in on the joke, and there's a good chance you left them feeling better than they did before you got to them. But most importantly, by using comedy you have created a positive association between the users and whatever brand, product or concept you are representing. Make 'em laugh and you can make them do anything. Rule #1: Be as funny as you need to be In our increasingly fragmenting 2.0 online world of all-you-can-eat distraction, unlimited customization and a seemingly endless parade of "apps," the comedic marketing campaign that really clicks is the Holy Grail to which we all aspire. Something memorable that makes people laugh and want to share it with their friends is about as good as it gets. And online, even though we have far more latitude, the same basic real world rules of comedy apply: Make 'em laugh and you can make them do anything. But if it's not funny, you're dead. So, how funny do you really need to be in order to be heard, be seen and be taken seriously…or at the very least, have an impact for your brand? The answer is as simple as it is deceptive: as funny as you need to be…and then some. Rule #2: Don't be a fool Once upon a time, brands weren't always willing to take a pie in the face in the name of comedy. Serious institutions like banking, insurance and law were treated with the same gravity as a life-threatening illness. To have fun with a "serious" brand was to somehow cheapen it, or at least weaken it in the eyes of the consumer. But the online world is much more forgiving, not to mention starved for distracting entertainment. Here, a new car can be a toy, an insurance premium can become impenetrable video game "armor" and even the once staid world of banking is now cheerfully irreverent. Why? Because online, brands can take more chances and experiment like a curious college student who suddenly finds himself alone for the weekend with his girlfriend's hot older sister, a fully stocked wet bar, dad's credit card and Timothy Leary's chemistry set. Those brands that have thrived have seen the paralyzing, stagnating effects of resisting change take its toll on their lesser evolved competitors, and they jump into the pool fully dressed and ready to make fools of themselves. In this brave new world, the only real fools are those who remain dry. Rule #3: Even serious topics can use humorSo,[...]
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Thu, 20 Mar 2008 16:00:00 +0000I come from an old-school, direct-sales background where leads are precious and few. It's been engrained in me to make sure that once a viable prospect expresses an interest in your product or service, the real work begins. In creating and executing online advertising campaigns over the last 10 years, I have kept this philosophy in mind. I always try to build the user flow in an ad to lead the consumer to making a purchase decision. This hasn't always been easy, since many of my clients have hired me for "awareness" campaigns. But does an "awareness" campaign preclude us from bringing the consumer closer to an actionable commitment? If the bottom-line purpose of advertising is to generate sales, at what point do we stop focusing on sales as an ROI metric? One of the challenges with online advertising is tracking a conversion to sale when the consumer ultimately buys through brick-and-mortar retail channels. While some online advertising successfully crosses the offline sales barrier, many brand marketers have simply given up on taking the consumer all the way through the sales funnel when advertising online. In fact, it would seem that the internet has killed the need for campaigns that have no more targeted function other than to make you aware of the brand. This mindset has lead to many brand marketers to think of interactive display advertising as a "luxury" item that, while sexier than more-direct online advertising, doesn’t deliver the hard numbers. This, despite years of high-profile case studies that show the opposite is true. The great majority of online advertising ads have the ability to convert and track users to a sale. Typically, we rely on third-party ad serving to help us determine whether our online ads are converting. This is certainly an important part of the process, but we also need to effectively build the user flow to make it easy to get consumers into the sales funnel. Here are three tips in establishing a user flow that helps you better guide consumers into purchasing your products when experiencing your online ads: TIP 1: ask for the saleThis homepage takeover ad has one glaring problem with it. There are approximately 786,000 pixels visible above the fold and this ad occupies more than two-thirds of the pixel space. Despite the graphic appeal and the high level of interactivity here, the ad has very little salesmanship going on. In fact, there isn't a visible call-to-action to clic[...]
Thu, 13 Mar 2008 16:00:00 +0000Boy, there are a lot of new, hip marketing opportunities out there, huh? It's saliva-inducing, all those consumers using all those web applications and devices in all sorts of ways. And a lot of them, especially those ever-important 39 and under demos, are spending a lot less time using things that marketers understand, like television and magazines. Our whole culture is being sucked into the internet and it's impacting our lives in countless ways every day -- even when we aren't online. Discovering how to reach out to those audiences using new distribution channels is at the top of every marketing and advertising professional's mind (and if it isn't, you're in the wrong profession). But beware: those new, hip marketing opportunities are fraught with peril. Because in a marketing context "new" means untried, untested and unknown longevity or impact, and "hip" means so cool that by the time you're aware of it it's no longer cool. In fact, the conscious decision to try to be hip is in itself the definition of un-hip and can make you look like a fool. When it comes to new media campaigns, don't let yourself get so pumped up by the exciting ideas that you forget the fundamentals of Marketing 101. We all want to run successful viral video or social media campaigns, but there are factors in play that can make some brands an unnatural fit for them. Our responsibility as marketers is to ultimately create a unique message that resonates with consumers, but to be successful we also have to make sure that message produces results. We're going to take a look at some new media marketing campaigns that have clunked like the proverbial lead zeppelin to see if we can find some common threads and lessons to learn. Know your brand… and your other brandIt's critical for marketers and brand managers to avoid insular tunnel vision. It's no longer prudent to simply be aware of what our adversaries are doing; it's necessary for us to know what our parent company's other brands are up to, because we cannot assume that consumers don't know whose umbrella our product is sitting under. The most notable recent example of inadvertent mixed messages is probably the Dove Evolution campaign. Dove Evolution was a time-lapse video of a perfectly average young woman transformed, after a brutally long session of hair and make-up, lighting, airbrushing, etc., into an incredibly beautiful billboard model. Through deconst[...]
Thu, 06 Mar 2008 16:00:00 +0000"We try not to get a lot of clients, but to develop the best work for the client that we can." That philosophy, according to Nurun CEO Jacques-Hervé Roubert, has led the Montreal-headquartered company to land and retain some of the same clients for 12 years. Roubert points out that has been no small accomplishment given that the digital landscape of the past decade included the steep cliff of the dotcom bust. Nurun, a Quebecor Media company, which employs approximately 800 people in 13 cities including New York, Shanghai, Madrid, Paris and Turin, posted revenues of $82.8 million in 2007, up from $74.7 the previous year. Since its formation in 1985, the company has worked with clients from L'Oréal and Groupe Danone to Home Depot, Microsoft, Equifax, Renault, Telecom Italia and Louis Vuitton. Roubert attributes his company's success to its willingness to reevaluate and reinvent itself; a process Roubert says takes place on an annual or biannual basis. The idea, he says, is to be flexible -- and prepared. "I can't tell you what the most important thing is going to be in three years, because it's always changing. But I can tell you that we have to be ready," Roubert says. To that end, Nurun has formed a global laboratory research team consisting of 12 employees across North America, Asia and Europe. The group also partners with research institutions such as Georgia Tech's Mobile Technology Lab. While Roubert admits his company's standing is relatively weak in the United States when compared to other, more established domestic digital giants, he describes the American market as "a priority" for 2008 and 2009. Roubert clearly expects that his company's international expertise will pay off in New York. After all, the company estimates that at least 70 percent of its work is bilingual, meaning Nurun adapts its campaigns for at least 23 languages, translating its sites as well as striving to make them culturally appropriate. Roubert also looks to Nurun's work in China and France as key to understanding the global digital market. With an office in Guangzhou in addition to a base in Shanghai, Roubert says Nurun has learned a lot about the mobile market from China's hundreds of millions of mobile users. And in France, where Roubert says the emphasis is less on ROI and more on creative, Nurun has gained insight on how to drive a brand rather than just e[...]
Tue, 18 Mar 2008 16:00:00 +0000I recently judged an online advertising competition and I found a very clear distinction between the great work and the rest of the work. The great online ads were few and far between -- even in a competition in which agencies submitted their best efforts -- because doing great work is difficult (no surprise). As I looked at the best ads, here's what I noticed: The very best ads surprised me. And while they were unexpected, they were not irrelevant or unfocused. Most were inventive without being obtuse. They were approachable and appropriate for their target audience. And finally, the very best ads engaged consumers by putting them in control of interactivity. So those are some simple tips, right? Easy peasy! Just go out there and invent a campaign that's surprisingly relevant and approachable while being fun and engaging. Unfortunately, that's only the beginning. The beauty of online advertising is that it encompasses so much. But this can also be the ugly part. Many media plans are presented with an emphasis on rich media. All the "other stuff" like newsletters, contextual content and keywords are often treated like value-adds, because they cost less or require less time to produce. By emphasizing the most expensive online media, it's easy to mistake the "other stuff" as unimportant. But each component of a comprehensive online media plan is an important piece of a puzzle that can help bring consumers from awareness to purchase. Taking time to map each piece to the purchase continuum can help your creative teams craft messaging that resonates with consumers right where they are, both emotionally and in terms of how much information they have about your brand. It seems like common sense, but I don't see it done that often. I imagine media plans as road maps for consumers. If I get each piece of communication right in a comprehensive online media campaign, I give consumers driving directions from where they are to where I want them to be. So let's start with the first turn on the map: awareness. Run-of-site and run-of-network display ads can help build awareness of your brand through multiple impressions. These ads shouldn't be complicated. If a consumer doesn't know about you yet, he's probably not going to drill down into multiple tabs of an expandable rich-media ad unit. Focus on a simple, compelling message that catches th[...]
Tue, 04 Mar 2008 16:00:00 +0000Let's face it, marketing is about relationships. If you strip away the channel, the creative, the format, the demographics and all else, marketing can be simply defined by how an individual consumer feels about you and your brand. That feeling, and the relationship that ties you together, is the foundation of your brand. It influences purchase intent, repeat visits, loyalty, pass-along and virtually every other meaningful measure we have for our businesses. The fundamentals of relationship-building for our business brands are really no different when it comes to our personal brands. Whether you're an independent consultant, an active job seeker or simply a smart marketer in a large organization, how you build and manage your brand -- and hence the relationships with those around you -- is the foundation of your success. The skills we develop as marketers with customers and their influencers can have a dramatic effect on not only how we build and manage our personal brands at work, but also among friends and family. So, if relationships are the foundation of our professional and personal success, why as a whole are we getting lazier and more uniform in how we approach our relationship-building and networking? Why do we put so much focus on commoditized tools that fail to differentiate us as individuals, and fail to create the deep, personal ties with those around us that have for generations been the building blocks of the most successful people in the world? We rely intensely on tools such as Facebook, Plaxo and LinkedIn to build and foster our extended professional relationships. It's far easier and faster to work via email and through our online social networks to stay in touch with each other. But these tools, by their nature, are shallow. By their ubiquity, they leave us largely undifferentiated. Sure, a sample of your personality and unique personal brand can be portrayed in a Facebook account or in your email copy, but that impression pales in comparison to how we used to build relationships. As these tools become more and more ubiquitous, they fail to differentiate us and create the powerful business relationships we need to do our jobs and further our careers. They clearly have value, but if used exclusively, their impact on our jobs and careers will continue to be marginalized. Next page &g[...]
Fri, 01 Feb 2008 16:00:00 +0000Consumer confidence in online advertising has eroded to an all-time low. We package clever, but elusive, copy and flashy graphics inside of a display ad and buy up every available impression on the internet only to wonder why no one is clicking. What are we exchanging with consumers that gives them the confidence to interact with our message? Simply broadcasting a message to the masses doesn't necessarily leave consumers with enough information, or the confidence, to act on what they see. I've often likened this confidence-building process to asking someone out on a date. I haven't been single for a number of years, but I remember the delicate dance of trying to engage a person in conversation as an entrée into spending some more quality time together. A long time ago in a pub far away, I happened upon an attractive woman who was chatting with some mutual friends of mine. Aside from the occasional comment directed to the group, this woman and I said very little to each other. Still, she seemed nice and she was a knockout, so at the end of the evening, I sidled up to her and made some wise comment -- I can't remember now what it was, but it was probably related to the band Hanson and how important they were to modern American music. Whatever I said was enough to make her smile and nod which, for me, was a real bonus. And so, I asked her out. She said "no." Not, "I have plans." Not "I have a boyfriend." Not even "Hanson. Are you kidding me?" She just said "no." I eventually got over the rejection, but a few years later, I bumped into this woman again at a party. We struck up a more direct conversation that lasted most of the night. I finally worked up the courage to ask her about that fated evening and why she didn't go out with me. She told me that she had no clue about who I was and what I was about, and she didn't want to invest her time and energy based on a two-second conversation. She said that she needed more to go on before making that kind of a decision. I asked her out again, and this time she said "yes." We've been together ever since. I learned two very valuable lessons that night. Never, EVER bring Hanson into a conversation with the opposite sex. It only serves to prove that you are, in fact, a moron. M[...]
Fri, 18 Jan 2008 16:00:00 +0000A tale in everything -- William Wordsworth Stories have been around since humans began to walk the earth. From cave paintings of a thrilling hunt to Homer's immortal "Odyssey" to today's Harry Potter sensation, stories have shaped who we are, what we know and what we do. Indeed, stories engage us. Want to engage customers? The art of narrative offers time-tested lessons you can apply in new, interactive ways. Defining engagementAs far as official definitions go, the Advertising Research Foundation has developed a working definition of engagement: Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context. In her iMedia Connection article "Cracking the Engagement Code," Mollie Spillman interprets this definition as an "indicator of the propensity of a brand message to resonate and connect with a prospect and ultimately drive some kind of meaningful action." What better way to create context and resonate with customers than to tell a story? A story brings a message to life in a compelling way by giving context, adding dramatic action and more. It's the difference between saying that your brand's wireless service is more reliable and presenting the story of a customer whose work or personal life depends on your brand's reliable wireless service. How stories engage -- and persuade Let me explain further. I see five key ways in which stories can engage -- and thereby influence -- customers. 1: Giving context, showing relevanceStory elements include characters (who is in the story), setting (where the story happens), plot (what happens) and more. These elements create a clear context that makes a brand message relevant to customers. For example, Cingular Wireless illustrated its message of "fewer dropped calls" with a series of humorous stories showing the impact of dropped calls in everyday life. In one story, a happy couple is casually talking on the phone when the guy comments how glad he is to be "the only man" in his girlfriend's world. As his girlfriend replies, the call suddenly drops -- as does the commercial audio -- so the guy hears only silence. We watch the guy panic. We also think about all the inconvenient times our own wireless calls have dropped, and the[...]
Wed, 23 Jan 2008 16:00:00 +0000"I hate those shoot the monkey ads," replied my doctor when I explained to her what I do as the creative director of Advertising.com. Not the nicest bedside manner, but I've heard worse when I tell people that my team creates online ads. With all the complaints about rich media, some advertisers wonder if it's worth it, especially when you consider the additional hassle of dealing with temperamental creative departments. Before answering, however, it's important to define exactly what it is. Many publishers consider an ad only to be rich media if it automatically takes over a page, with the user having no control over initiating the intrusive message. But because users will only put up with so much of that intrusiveness, publishers limit the amount of this kind of impression and charge accordingly. The technical definition of rich media is anything beyond a static .gif or .jpg. Creative folks, though, have their own definition: any cool flash banner that makes people notice (or as our strategists say, "engage the user"). And unlike auto-initiated rich media, regular rich media only expands or starts playing sound when the user approves it with a click or mouseover. Now that we've defined rich media, here's the answer to the question, "Is it worth it?" Of course it is. In the past month, you've probably seen thousands of online ads. Do you remember any of them? How many did you actually spend more than a nanosecond on? And how many did you click? I'll bet you real dollars to Second Life ones that the ads you interacted with were flash. How big a difference can it make? Look at the two ads below. Guess which one had a clickthrough rate 14,600 percent (not a typo) greater than the other? This is not to imply that simply putting something in flash is going to make people say, "Ooh! I've got to click on that and get myself a puppy, a cell phone or a new mortgage." To get users to do that, you need to do the following: Make the design simple and intuitive. Don't design something that rivals Playstation 3. Users don't want to work that hard. Make sure the message is simple. If they can't figure it out in literally one second, they're moving on. Make it wor[...]
Thu, 10 Jan 2008 16:00:00 +0000"We have a rich portfolio of experimentation." When MediaVest Director of Digital Connections and Senior Vice President Amanda Richman makes this kind of statement, she's not exaggerating. To date, the New York-headquartered media agency has dropped more than $17 million on targeting and media usage research alone. That's a lot of tinkering, including working with digital content site Hulu, in the mobile space, and across social networks, games and virtual worlds. Of course, that's all to the benefit of new 2007 MediaVest clients Wal-Mart and Wendy's, as well as old clients such as Proctor and Gamble (on most of its North American brands, including Vicks, Prilosec, Clairol Herbal Essences, Crest, CoverGirl and Tampax), Coca-Cola and Mars (Pedigree). Despite its vast research, MediaVest, which also has offices in Los Angeles, doesn't play favorites with technology. While others may intend to go whole-hog for mobile in 2008, Richman says MediaVest plans to remain tech-neutral. Whether focusing on mobile or social networks, "We need to understand and embrace all technologies, including being knowledgeable about traditional media as it evolves," Richman says. Of course, digital is still the core of MediaVest's Digital Connections business. Richman says all client teams include digital experts who provide input throughout a campaign's conception and execution stages; these experts help interpret consumer behavior, gain customer insight and work with media across all channels. "Versus the traditional approach, where digital is just an extension of initiatives happening across traditional media, here there really is integration of it from the start of the consumer experience," Richman says. Clients in 2008 can expect to see MediaVest's digital and metrics accountability practices continue to expand. The idea, Richman says, is to focus less on traditional impression measurements and more on the actions consumers take after viewing a campaign. Founded in 1929 as Benton & Bowles with a focus on radio broadcasting, the company was renamed MediaVest in 1999. MediaVest formed its digital practice in 2003 and last year the digital team gr[...]
Fri, 04 Jan 2008 16:00:00 +0000My son is on his high school golf team, which is a source of pride and shock for me -- I’m proud of him and I am shocked that my oldest is now in high school. We take regular trips to the driving range to keep his skills sharp and his wit sharper -- he loves to make fun of my golf swing. Point is, we are at the driving range and as I walk to our spot on the range, I am stopped by a rep for a golf club manufacturer. He has in his hands the latest and greatest driver that is guaranteed to improve my distance, my accuracy… and to re-grow my hair. He invites me to step onto the mat and take a swing or two. I do this and am immediately, if not painfully, reminded that it’s going to take a lot more than this golf club to improve my game, not to mention my hairline -- both are pretty much lost causes. I thank him for his time and tell him that spending $250 on a club for my game is more than futile; it’s actually kind of sad and pathetic. He chuckles at this and hands me a discount card good for 10 percent off the club. He invites me to give it to a friend. I walk up to my own mat to see my son is rocket-launching balls 250+ yards with an old, banged up driver -- those who can’t do, make children and hope that they can. As I see him blasting balls into the stratosphere, a little light goes on: the light of purchase intent. I walk my boy back to this fellow and have him take a few swings with the new driver. He does and $250, minus 10 percent later, my son’s game is better than ever. This story demonstrates the power of experiential marketing. Most of us have only recently heard of this discipline, but it’s been around for ages. Anyone who goes to Costco knows all about the army of employees waiting to add items to your cart, and pounds to your waistline, by way of the free samples they hand out. The point of experiential marketing is simple -- play with the product or brand in such a way as to increase purchase intent. The rules are even simpler: Attract attention from targeted consumers Gauge their intention to listen to what you have to say Get them to interact with your product in some way Get their commit[...]
Fri, 21 Dec 2007 16:00:00 +0000You'd think promoting counter-urgency in business would be as popular as a 3 am-car-alarm-wake-up-call. Do a news search on "slow and business" and you get nothing but misery, pain and frustration. Don't we associate "slow" with failure, inefficiency and perhaps worse -- laziness? Speed worshipWe love speed. We have speed dating, speed networking and fast food. Microsoft tells us to "Do more, faster." And who would want to argue? When it comes to connectivity or processing speed, I wouldn't. We want our products to get to market faster. After all, competition is fierce. We'd better be efficient, get there first -- be a winner. How do we do this? We forge ahead. We speed up. The less time we have, the more we try to cram into it. Time is a non-renewable resource. The defining realization of time-compression for Carl Honoré, author of "In Praise of Slowness," came when he discovered the one-minute bedtime story for children. Honoré, a self-confessed rushaholic, paused to think about the impact of continual accelerated time. Honoré's book brought an awareness of "slow" to thousands as it flew off shelves. The irony is Honoré still rushes around the world speaking about the benefits of slowing down. He says he is a victim of his own success. But at least he aspires to slowness. Time povertyMany of us complain of not having enough time. Civility suffers. Attention spans decrease. Patience vanishes. Mistakes mount. Efforts to speed up often backfire. If you're like me, you waste hours trying to figure out your latest gadget's instructions written by someone with less mastery of English than a baboon. I really want to save milliseconds promised me by the speed-dial function. I've got plans for that time. A millisecond here, a millisecond there, it adds up. Seth Godin wrote on his blog recently that inbound customer service agents are rewarded for getting rid of customers fast. An agent who slowed down enough to spend time and respond appropriately to a complex call wouldn't be thought of as successful. Complexity needs time and patience. An[...]
Thu, 13 Dec 2007 16:00:00 +0000"It all starts with empathy." Perhaps that's not how you'd expect the heads of Organic to describe their initial approach to new campaigns, but that's exactly where things begin at the 14-year-old digital marketing agency, says Chad Stoller, the company's executive director of emerging platforms. And the folks at Organic just might know what they're talking about, having worked with clients from iVillage to Warner Bros. International to Barnes & Noble to Nike to Sony to Sprint. The idea with empathy, Stoller says, is to better understand customer behavior in order to produce campaigns that actually bring results. This process takes its fullest shape during the company's quarterly employee events, dubbed "Camp Organic." At the Las Vegas trips -- estimated by Forrester to cost Organic well into the six figures to pull off -- employees from Organic's San Francisco, New York, Detroit and Toronto offices band together to investigate consumer behavior on the ground or, in this case, on The Strip. As the groups prepare mock-campaigns, they meet real potential customers and try to glean not just demographic data, but also behavioral data. "What we like to do is to figure out how new technologies change peoples' lives," Stoller says. He adds that the best way to use technology in interactive campaigns is to do so judiciously and only when it fills a customer's specific, identifiable need. Ten years after Organic's inception, the company was acquired by Omnicom Group, which forbids its companies from releasing revenue and employee data. But some estimates place Organic's earnings in the $70 million range. The company has also raked in more than a few awards. Highlights from 2007 include seven awards from the Web Marketing Association (from Outstanding Website: Jeep Patriot Factor and Warner Bros. International 300 the Movie to Best Bank Website: Bank of America No Fee Mortgage Plus), one OMMA Award (Best Rich Media Campaign: Warner Bros. International Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and several others. Next page >>Add [...]
Tue, 11 Dec 2007 16:00:00 +0000
We've all done it. We've been on our cell phones or PDAs when our conversation is interrupted by a bad connection, or the call is dropped, and we've uttered: "Can you hear me now?"
Verizon's tag line is the most recognized and repeated, often inadvertently, telecom communications advertising campaign in the last five years.
It's a great campaign, but Verizon is more than a telecommunications brand -- and wanted consumers to know that.
With the success of Verizon's telecommunications brand eclipsing its other market segments, American consumers have not associated Verizon with its other offerings as widely. While it is a consumer brand, it is not one that consumers would necessarily think of in terms of engaging with until it is time to pay their cell phone bills.
It is no small task transforming a well-known Fortune 100 brand in a tightly regulated industry from a brand with strong name recognition in a single vertical to a brand that consumers personally align with across multiple technology media.
The challenge: How to move Verizon from a telecom utility brand to something consumers associate with leisure, entertainment and enjoyment.
Thu, 06 Dec 2007 16:00:00 +0000Developing a successful marketing campaign is not enough anymore. Not only is there the ongoing corporate need to develop and grow a client base, once procured you must keep customers continually engaged and coming back for more. This is especially true when a brand scores a viral hit. Whether by chance or design, campaigns that span the globe with friends telling friends about them raise the bar for the brands and agencies that produced them. So how can a brand capitalize on its viral success? Here are some examples of brands that have attempted to keep the buzz, using different tactics. Dove pushes real beautyA few years ago, Dove Soap launched a new advertising campaign touting the principle that everyone, without regard to age, shape, height or nationality, is beautiful. Real women replaced the customary statuesque supermodels as Dove forged its new society benchmark of beauty. "Campaign for Real Beauty" initially launched with an ad during the 2006 Super Bowl featuring preteen and teenage girls with commentary stating what they don't like about themselves. The call to action was to check out the Campaign for Real Beauty website. The website, full of information and resources for improving one's self-esteem, became a viral hit. So what has Dove done since then to keep the momentum? It launched a non-profit foundation, the Dove Self-Esteem Fund. At this site, young women, their moms and mentors are invited to play a role in supporting and promoting a wider definition of beauty. The truly dynamic element of this is that Dove has taken a concept and built upon it. Granted, not every company is going to start a foundation, nor should they, but Dove created a new element, which has continued to keep the audience engaged. Next page >>Add a comment[...]
Fri, 16 Nov 2007 16:00:00 +0000It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But in the advertising game, there is often a fine line between imitating an idea and downright stealing it. Agencies and creative teams face a unique dilemma throughout the business development/RFP process: they are charged with the task of putting their best foot forward prospectively, generating and presenting big ideas and execution strategies to a potential client, before they have actually been hired to do the work. For example, when 20th Century Fox's "The Simpsons Movie" was being promoted this past summer, one of the most buzzed-about marketing tactics for the film was the temporary transformation of select 7-Eleven convenience stores into Kwik-E-Marts. FreshWorks, the ad agency for 7-Eleven, made the partnership happen, but was the agency the first to come up with the idea? Ad agency Leo Burnett says no, claiming that the idea was part of a pitch it had made to 20th Century Fox in 2006. After the 7-Eleven promotion was announced, Leo Burnett went public with its claims of idea theft, resulting in professional and consumer responses that ranged from sympathy to cries of sour grapes. Even more recently, Sony debuted the latest in a series of innovative spots to promote the sharp, high-resolution picture of its Bravia line of HD televisions. The campaign, Sony Bravia Bunnies, conveyed its message with colorful clay bunnies running amok in an urban landscape. But did the spot's producers, Passion Pictures, crib the creative idea from a panoramic by Los Angeles-based artists Kozyndan? Kozyndan claims that it provided samples of its work to Passion two years before Fallon (Sony's ad agency) hired the production company to create the latest Bravia spot. The similarities are striking. But was this truly a matter of sneaky appropriation or innocent inspiration? Furthermore, did Kozyndan and Leo Burnett do the right thing by taking their gripes to the people? Or[...]
Mon, 12 Nov 2007 16:00:00 +0000In the early days of interactive advertising, interaction was a matter of clicking on an ad. The click was king. Ads were designed and evaluated based on their ability to induce a click. It was a pass-fail exam, and consumers adapted accordingly. Fortunately, the industry proved as adaptive as consumers. Today's web ads are truly interactive; their capabilities extend well past choppy animation and primitive interaction to full-featured content, high-quality video and complex interactivity. They have more in common with marketing-oriented microsites than with the animated GIFs of yore. Robust back-end XML enables advertisers to deliver specialized content and tailored messaging based on geographic, demographic and behavioral information. These personalized ads engage users in ways that earlier ads couldn't, and more and more users are clicking on ads. Anything that makes ads more personal will get a better response, and XML accomplishes this in several ways: Geo-tagging detects users' locale and can reconfigure text or select creative iterations that relate specifically to them. It's well-suited for campaigns that are location-specific or appeal on a local basis. Behavioral tagging (or Sequential tagging) "marks" the user with a cookie and can deliver a series of ads in their proper order to build a message or adapt to user behavior. It's effective in building engagement or trust with consumers and moving the audience from lead to close. Data capture ads do what they say they do: collect information and transmit the data to the advertiser. This can be email information, product preferences, et cetera. Data collection ads are a favorite for lead-generation campaigns. As expected, this technology resulted in a performance breakthrough. We have seen a marked improvement among advertisers who use XML tagging. One client, a leading health and beauty brand launching a new product formulated for city [...]
Thu, 01 Nov 2007 16:00:00 +0000I recently came across a banner ad for LowerMyBills.com. The sequence depicts a young Black woman in an office setting. She's dancing in her work area -- yes, dancing at work -- supposedly unaware of the camera that's capturing it all. We see the surprise on her face as she realizes she has been caught on film. Is this a poor, stereotypical attempt to reach a niche? Or is it just good fun in a banner? Why is this Black woman shaking her thing at the office? Shouldn't she be focused on work? Is that why she needs to lower her bills? As a Black man in the advertising industry, I find myself struggling with the ethnic marketing question. In today's era of consumption, most consumer needs (both retail and beyond) are cross-cultural. Sure, there are products produced for specific ethnic groups; when you're selling relaxer designed for African American hair, niche marketing is appropriate and necessary. But even then, such campaigns don't have to revolve around tired clichés and lowest-common-denominator stereotypes. And in broader consumer marketing, there's just no excuse. Consider a typical, general market minivan ad: a Caucasian soccer mom dropping kids off at the game. Now replace the White faces with Black ones and insert an R&B soundtrack. Instead of a soccer game, let's have that van pull into a huge family reunion with fried chicken as far as the eye can see. Voila. Now you have an "African-American" minivan ad. Starting to feel uncomfortable? You should be. Beyond the shades of minstrelsy in such campaigns, the problem is that this approach assumes consumers are incapable of any kind of empathy for those of a different ethnicity; that people cannot move beyond depicted scenarios involving a product to envision scenarios more suited to their own lives. If you want to reach Black consumers, you'd better make sure your ads are "good and Black;" likewise fo[...]
Fri, 19 Oct 2007 16:00:00 +0000People will involuntarily look where someone else is looking, and you can use this hard-wired, prehistoric response to your advantage on your website. On the other hand, not paying attention to this response can make viewers click away from where you want them to go, even though they might not realize why they're doing so. This need to look where someone else is looking is easy to demonstrate. Next time you're talking one on one with someone, casually and without warning gaze over their shoulder and focus on something behind them. Then just as quickly bring your gaze back to them. Do this once or twice and the person will either turn around to look where you're looking or ask you if there's something he needs to be aware of. (Note: If this sounds familiar to regular readers, I talked about something similar in "Pavlov's eyes: get users to respond.") It's in the wiring The reason this little game works is because human beings started off as herd and prey animals. Not only that, we were secretive little creatures for several million years of evolutionary history and all of this makes itself known in how our brains are wired to respond to, internalize and use information in our environment. Our ancestors had to be constantly on guard for lions, tigers and bears. If Og the caveman was talking with me and suddenly looked over my shoulder, he might be seeing a predator. That was extremely useful information to our ancestors, so following Og's gaze and looking where he looked was a good survival skill. Good survival skill? Heck, it's so good let's wire it into the brain! Evolution dictates survival of the fittest, and eventually the only ancestors left were those who followed the gaze of their peers because they knew when predators were coming and got away rather than being eaten. Nature is excellent at finding new uses for things that work. It will take so[...]
Thu, 11 Oct 2007 16:00:00 +0000Rapid advances in personal and home electronics and the evolution of Web 2.0 are accelerating the emergence and influence of prosumers. Loosely defined as both "professional-consumers" (a hobbyist in a particular field, but who is knowledgeable enough to require and desire equipment that has professional features) and "producer-consumers" (a person who influences the design of products, and increasingly a producer of content using new channels and technology), these two groups are increasingly becoming one in the same. Nowhere is their growing influence greater than in the consumer electronics industry. In fact, comScore recently reported that personal technology sales are driving ecommerce in the United States. The research firm says that the $200 billion consumers will spend online in 2007 will be driven by consumer electronic purchases, especially video gaming products. The availability of advanced personal technologies, and the rise and proliferation of channels for producing and delivering content, are stirring the passions and helping to give voice to prosumers. Given their sophisticated use of new technologies and influence, "supersumers" may be a better term for this group. New tools for content creation and distribution, channels and technologies are converging and empowering prosumers looking for professional-quality products and intent on influencing their design, development and marketing. In this new environment, marketers and brand managers of consumer products, especially electronics, need to understand and work together with prosumers. Take a look at the recent heightened market anticipation and early adoption of the iPhone. Not only did technology enthusiast blogs (such as Tech Crunch and Engadget) engage in heated debate over the impending launch and what it would mean, but well before the fi[...]
Mon, 08 Oct 2007 16:00:00 +0000"Digital is making outdoor sexier." That brief statement from Alan James, CEO of the U.K.-based Outdoor Advertising Association, best sums up how this market sector appears to be on the cusp of an explosive expansion. "It's creating added communication opportunities and is making advertisers, creatives and media planners want to look at outdoor again," said James. The digital outdoors has faced some hurdles -- price, lack of infrastructure and bandwidth constraints -- but these are being surmounted. In fact, according to Indianapolis-based WatchFire Digital Outdoor, by the end of 2007 there will be about 1,000 digital billboards in operation throughout the U.S. While this represents only a fraction of the total number of billboards nationwide, usage is expected to grow considerably. "It used to be small projects, with companies putting up a screen in their reception room to welcome guests," said Iain Campbell, sales director at True Colours Distribution, another U.K.-based organization. "The fog is lifting and it's no longer seen as a golden art. Firms are realizing that they need to get their message across and this is a platform for doing that." Digital displays advertising goods and services that can rotate frequently, so messages can be fresh and regularly updated for targeted customers. The technology is far enough along, noted Darrin Friskney, director of WatchFire, that digital billboard artwork is now similar to art created for traditional vinyl billboards, "only it's delivered via high-speed internet connection as a .jpeg file." Author notes: Neal Leavitt is president of Fallbrook, CA-based Leavitt Communications, an international marketing communications company with affiliates in Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, and the United Kingdom. Read full bio.Add a comment[...]
Wed, 17 Oct 2007 16:00:00 +0000The way we communicate with each other continues to change at light speed. Over a billion people are online globally. Two thirds of the U.S. population now has broadband. More than 2 billion blogs are registered. Web 2.0 is ballooning. And mobile handsets are ubiquitous. The effect that this has had on full-service communications agencies has been profound, and Y&R is no exception. Ad critic Bob Garfield calls it Chaos 2.0: the end of the full service agency as we've known it. I wouldn't go quite that far, but there's no question that as the world changes, so must we. And we have. Water cooler conversations at our shop are as likely to be about viral videos, social networks, SMS, podcasting or search as they are about branding and :30 second TV spots. And you see it in our work: for Cadbury Schweppes, or the NCAA, or the campaign we're about to launch for Palm -- all campaigns built around integrated communications strategies reflecting the new world order. Toto, we are not in Kansas any more! But even though our playing field is far wider and mostly digital, our fundamental approach to solving clients' problems creatively remains the same. It still starts with the clients' business objectives, and a profound understanding of the target audience we're trying to influence, including how the audience behaves offline and online. And, yes, it's still about the "Big Idea." That's where the energy -- the spark -- comes from that gives a brand velocity, and captures the attention and engagement of the audience. But if we had to boil it down to five key principles (which is what iMedia asked for!) then this is what we'd say: Understand the business objectiveOur first priority is developing a creative concept that is on-brief. A good brief starts with a clear understan[...]
Wed, 19 Sep 2007 16:00:00 +0000We've always really prided ourselves on building sites that are "usable." If a user can get through a site unobstructed from Point A to our goal page, then we've done a good job. When I get into new business meetings, it is invariable that the prospect will ask how familiar we are with the "best practices" in their industry. What have we done for someone who looks like them? Most often, we find a relevant example that proves our knowledge of the space, our knowledge of best practices and, ultimately, our ability to build usable sites. I believe that is a problem. Those three things combined, to most, sound ideal, however, I believe that those three combined can produce results that are, to use a metaphor, vanilla. A lot of people like vanilla and I'd say that vanilla is definitely the safest of flavors, but it is tough to get passionate about vanilla. You can put toppings on it, you can mash other things into it, but it is still vanilla. I think that this is the difference between usability and user experience. I know that many people in the industry, particularly those in the field of user experience, have been working to better define the difference, however, that definition has failed to reach the client-side decision-makers. They continue to ask for usability and for in-industry best practices. In my opinion, user experience is focused on ensuring that the targeted user gets the best experience possible based on the desired outcome for that user. So, for one example, a user gets through a shopping cart without obstruction (in this case, it would be easy to say that the cart was "usable"). That is pretty straightforward and common; we optimize regularly to tighten a checko[...]
Fri, 21 Sep 2007 16:00:00 +0000While attending ad:tech San Francisco, it seemed to me that people had a lot to say about Millennials. "Millennials are tech savvy; Millennials know advertising," et cetera. Every time I heard the term "Millennials," it made my skin crawl. It was as if people were talking about my generation like we were a newly discovered species they didn't quite understand. But when I thought about it, I realized just how different my generation really is. I got my first computer when I was 11 and my first cell phone at 13. By 14, I was building web pages, using instant messaging programs, downloading music from Napster and text messaging on my cell phone. We grew up in an environment that didn't know what it was like not to have the internet and have grown to become the most influential and knowledgeable group of individuals today. And there are a lot of us: The recent Frank N. Magid presentation to OPA, "Generational Media Study" counted 79 million Millennials compared to 48 million Generation X-ers, with an average of those Millennials spending 2.5 hours online daily. Millennials have developed the rules of conduct for interactive marketing, and if you break them, you risk the chance of doing significant damage to your brand identity. The OPA report mentioned above found that 70 percent of Millennials find internet advertising annoying and a huge factor towards that number was attributed to them feeling that companies don't know how to create internet ads for their age group. Ouch. With that said, you're probably wondering, "How do I reach the members of this demographic in a way that will engage their interest without harming my brand or campaign?" Editor-in-Chief of iMedia Communications Brad Beren[...]
Tue, 18 Sep 2007 16:00:00 +0000A new advertising trend is emerging which, if it proves popular and cost-effective, could compel ad agencies to rethink their business model and methodology. Many organizations representing a wide variety of vertical markets, particularly publishers and broadcast companies, have opted to create their own in-house ad agencies. Some of these have included Conde Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, NBC and Reader's Digest. What does this trend portend to traditional agencies? Are there any strategies and tactics that need to be implemented to keep abreast of these evolving changes? iMediaConnection asked three ad industry executives to voice their thoughts and concerns. Andreas Roell heads up San Diego, CA-based Geary Interactive, an online marketing agency. Jeffrey W. Hamill, based in New York City, is senior vice president of advertising & sales for Hearst Magazines and manages Hearst Integrated Media, the company's corporate sales arm. John Miller is chief marketing officer for NBC Universal TV Group in Los Angeles. Here are excerpts from a recent roundtable discussion: How long have companies been creating their own in-house ad agencies?Roell: Publishers have always had these types of capabilities since their inception. It mostly started with the fact that some marketers (mostly smaller businesses) did not have any creative solutions available, either because their agency was not focused on a particular media placement or because they may have been too cost prohibitive. So they created in-house agency services to fulfill their specific client requests. The difference now is that some publishers have either created or bought full-service agency cap[...]
Tue, 11 Sep 2007 16:00:00 +0000"Create and sustain real connections between people and brands." That has been the philosophy at imc2 from the gitgo. President/Founder Doug Levy's knack for melding people from varied disciplines and expertise has grown into what is now America's largest privately held, independent digital marketing agency, with more than 500 employees and annual revenues in 2006 exceeding $64 million. Company headquarters is in Dallas; additional offices are in New York City, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and London. Levy got his first big break shortly after graduating from the Wharton School of Business in 1995. He created Internet University, an online information/resource tool for college students. ABC Sports liked what it saw and retained Levy to develop the network's Monday Night Football website. Over the years, the agency has expanded its focus and now provides interactive solutions for these industries: Automotive Beverage Consumer goods Energy Financial services Pharmaceuticals/healthcare Retail Travel & hospitality Key clients include Coca-Cola, Eli Lilly and Company, Pfizer, Nestlé, Shire, Pizza Hut, Procter & Gamble, Sam's Club and Omni Hotels. imc2 recently moved to a 99,000-square-foot headquarters, and Advertising Age designated the company as a top 10 agency for the third time. The company has won gobs of awards over the years; in 2007 some of these included the Webby Awards (People's Voice Winner-Pharmaceuticals: Cymbalta Real Stories); DFWIMA EIMA Awards (Most Effective Non-Profit Campaign: Being-A-Hero (beinggirl.com); and In Awe Awards (Interactive/Digital: Website corporate: Myalli.com). Next page >>Add a[...]
Thu, 06 Sep 2007 16:00:00 +0000Coca-Cola has embraced social networking, expanding its online strategy with a new Cherry Coke MySpace campaign. Shane Steele, Coca-Cola's director of emerging media and online advertising, discusses the company's new approach to Web 2.0. Shane Steele is Coca-Cola's director of emerging media and online advertising. Krisserin Canary: The new Cherry Coke campaign is indicative of a move towards more interactive and involved MySpace campaigns. How did you approach creating this campaign? What were your priorities? Shane Steele: Our main priority was to generate awareness and excitement with the relaunch of Cherry Coke and launch of Cherry Coke Zero amongst today's multicultural youth. Social networks offer an amazing opportunity to engage our target audience and communicate with them on their own terms. We needed to break-through the clutter and contemporize the brand by speaking to our consumers in a relevant and meaningful way. We understood the influence of the MySpace community and we wanted to give one lucky teen the chance to own it. We wanted to empower self-expression, inspire creativity and enable teens to showcase their passion for the Cherry Coke brand. Canary: The recent redesign of Coca-Cola's brand site, MyCokeRewards, has shown a heavy reliance on user-generated interaction with the brand. What are you hoping the outcome of the contest will be with users? Steele: While companies create brands, consumers can make or break them. Today's move to user-generated interaction and consumer-generated content represents an understanding of the role consumers play in defining and shaping brands[...]
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Fri, 24 Aug 2007 16:00:00 +0000A note from Editor in Chief & Chief Content Officer Brad Berens: It's worth pointing out that at the time of publication EyeWonder is sponsoring our Creative Best Practices coverage, but Ryan's byline is in no way a part of that sponsorship. You can find a more detailed explanation of our editorial policy here or contact me directly with questions. Rich media has changed in oh so many ways in recent years. Limitless creative has begun carrying the weight of successful online video advertising. Rich media's interactivity and the ability of imaginative campaigns to engage end users have resulted in a steady migration of advertising dollars. Rich media and video ads have proved themselves as immensely effective and interactive marketing vehicles for brand and product campaigns, and through constant innovation and user friendly technology it's getting better all the time. Creative agencies, publishers media buyers and planners have come together to deliver highly successful and imaginative ad campaigns. Creative's success is no magical mystery. Brands and advertisers began to embrace interactive ad campaigns once rich media was validated as the gold standard for driving brand recognition, ad awareness and intent-to-buy for end users. The next tier of advancement centers on creativity. Here are some words of wisdom around creative priorities that could fix a hole in any campaign. With that in mind, and with a wink to John, Paul, George and Ringo, we've dubbed them the "Fab Five" priorities for cr[...]
Tue, 21 Aug 2007 16:00:00 +0000According to legend, Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel put his now-famous whisky in square bottles so that customers would know that he was a square-shooter. Honesty, it seems, was not a common virtue among early American whisky distillers, who often turned out a questionable (and sometimes deadly) product. If the myth is true, Newton may have discovered an early form of "infotainment." While a square bottle doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment (despite the fact that the contents can be quite thrilling), the message is an important one. Newton distinguished his product by giving his customers what they needed to know in the form of an easily-digested folk tale that they could share and discuss during a long night at their local saloon. Square bottle = square-shooter = whisky that you can trust to get you drunk and not kill you. While it's a simple message, it is wholly applicable to the digital age, where well-educated, savvy consumers often know more about a brand than the people marketing the product. Think your customers don't know better, ask PepsiLess than a month earlier, PepsiCo, which makes Aquafina, faced a public relations meltdown when news spread like wild fire that it was changing its label to reflect the fact that its product is tap water. While pressure to change the label came from a public interest consumer group, Corporate Accountability International, the case illustrates the speed and force with which the internet can rapidly remodel a brand's perso[...]
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Tue, 28 Aug 2007 16:00:00 +0000Dynamic Logic recently announced the most effective online advertising campaigns, based on research that evaluated how well each campaign achieved its branding objectives. Reviewing the campaigns measured in the United States during 2006, we determined the top overall campaigns, which successfully generated the greatest branding impact. Top U.S. campaignsThe top campaigns were led by CPG products, including four Kraft campaigns: Oreo, Honey Bunches of Oats, Kraft Singles and Crystal Light On-the-Go. Other brands that also achieved high scores were BMW, Dove, McDonald's and Ray-Ban. Online Ad Awareness scores for these campaigns ranged from 18 to 43 percentage-point increases after exposure to online advertising. The ads were also highly persuasive, generating the highest scores in Brand Favorability and Purchase Intent. The advertising campaigns included a combination of ad formats including rich media elements that captured visitors' attention, but did not disrupt their experience enough to have a negative impact on the brands. The top performing campaigns tended to find the right balance between grabbing and holding people's attention and having a positive effect without harming their user experience. Many of the top online campaigns were well integrated with their offline campaigns. The value of videoInterestingly, most of these campaigns utilized some form of video ads as part of their online campaign. Pr[...]
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