Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More On Why I Love The Slowsky's

I know - this is a fluff post, but I love these turtle ads!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Class of 2012...

Interesting news about the newest part of the workforce, from Amherst College... sourced from here:

Percentage of first-year applicants who applied online in 2003: 33%.

Percentage of applicants who did last year: 89%.

By the end of August 2008 the total number of members and posts at the Amherst College Class of 2012 Facebook group: 432 members and 3,225 posts.

Students in the class of 2012 who registered computers, IPhones, game consoles, etc. on the campus network by the end of the day on August 24th, the day they moved into their dorm rooms: 370 students registered 443 devices.

Number of students in the class of 2012 who brought desktop computers to campus: 14.

Likelihood that a student with an iPhone/iTouch is in the class of 2012: approximately 1 in 2.

Total number of students on campus this year that have landline phone service: 5.

Mac or PC? Of the four classes currently on campus the classes of 2009 and 2010 are more likely to own Windows, while the classes of 2011 and 2012 are more likely to own Macs.

Fortune Article: The Battle For Channel Surfers

I was reading this article from Fortune magazine that my lovely wife pulled out for me and I realized that you might need to read it too. The concept is simple; advertisers are starting to create ads that look like content so that viewers won't fast forward past them with their DVR's. I've started noticing that TNT is doing this too with a "series within a series".

I typically will watch the commercials for brands that I want to see. Lots of movies, cars and Apple commercials are still being viewed by yours truly.

Some of the recent winners in my mind:

A Quote Worth Reading

This is a quote from Stan Joosten of P&G (A very smart and well spoken marketer if I have ever come across one). When asked why the dollars do not follow the audience to online he said, “because we do know that advertising online works, but the variance between high performance and low performance is great”.

Simply put, when you hit a success online, you hit big, but when you miss you miss by a wide mark.

It’s an interesting thought to think about and mull over, so I will leave you to do so.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Today’s Lesson In Marketing

Today’s lesson in marketing is a simple one. You do not spend a dollar unless you hope to return at least a dollar! The fundamental point is that when you spend money you hope to make money. We spend WAY to much time worrying about how to measure ROI and we build proxies that include click rates, conversion rates and any number of datapoints but the simple fact is that when you spend money you hope to make back at least as much money as you spent, if not more.
Keep this simple fact in mind and you should be successful.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why There Are So Many Problems In Online

Why do we keep talking about the same problems; under-delivery, inaccurate data and reporting, mis-trafficked creative, among others? The answer is simple; our industry is not yet mature and our employees are not yet fully trained.

The problem is in the period between 2001 and 2004 when the bubble burst and a number of people were laid off. Our industry went back to being scrappy and we fought tooth and nail to sustain our growth even though our audience was still growing at a very fast pace. During that period of time we spent all of our attention against getting stuff done, so to speak, and not enough time and effort against building process and training. As a result of this lack of focus we’re now saddled with too few trained people in too many management positions and the people on the ground and the people on the front lines are not properly trained and they lack the knowledge of their previous colleagues.

Agencies and Marketers are led by very intelligent people who were promoted into their positions because they were really good at what they do, but more often than not when you promote someone into a management position they get taken away from what they were really good at before and the skill sets that got them where they are today! When someone is a brilliant strategist, they get promoted to management and they stop doing strategy; and that is a disservice to them and the clients they work on.

When these people are promoted they tend to pay their attention forward rather than look behind them and the people who are tasked to replace them are not properly trained. How many media planners do you know who can calculate a GRP and can explain the difference between Composition and Coverage? How many media planners do you know who have been formerly trained in the art of advertising? In far too many cases we see media planners who are trained to drop placements into an excel chart and whose training in optimization translates to sorting click rates and cutting the lowest performers? This is not proper training.

Our growth depends on the people on the front lines being trained in the proper way to run business. They need to become advertising professionals, not excel experts with a little bit of management inclination.

How do we get those senior executives to take time for the “little guys”? How do we create an environment that fosters the education and development of knowledge?

That is a question we need to answer and hopefully we can answer it soon, before more dollars come back towards the digital environment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why You Don’t Spend Online.

Have you ever wondered why other marketers, such as yourself, don’t spend enough money online? Well, according to my own research into the topic, here’s the answer:

· Measurement: They do not feel there is sufficient data to track from exposure to interaction to sales.

· Mistrust: They do not feel confidence that their message will actually be shown in the proper place and they do not trust the data that is reported. There is an old proverb adopted by marketers in the late 1990’s; You will never see a bad Dynamic Logic study (though I am here to say that this is not true… I have personally seen a poor Dynamic Logic study for a campaign that I ran and no-one could understand why it sucked so poorly).

· Fear: There is consistently the fear that your online campaign will under-perform in comparison to TV and no-one gets fired for buying too much TV, however they do get fired for buying too much online.

Just some ideas to think about.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Measuring Brand Campaigns – For Real Impact

We all ask the same questions about how to measure online media for brand campaigns, but I rarely hear about any possible answers! I was always taught that if you pose a question you should also pose a possible solution, but unfortunately not enough people were raised in that way. I recently spent some time with some of the top global marketers and listened to them discuss how they read online ad a part of the overall media mix. I listened and didn’t speak up because I wanted an unbiased opinion of how they do what they do. I wanted hear what they had to say.

The feedback was valuable and I took away some powerful points, but it all came down to two concepts; brand recall and “brand love”, as one of them put it.

Brand recall is easy to understand and not too difficult to carry out. You can do it with simple polling and surveys, and although no-one has it 100% correct, there are a few ways to execute this measurement. The standard way is to use a custom research study, such as Dynamic Logic and Insight Express. There are also less customized ways to do it and a number of companies exist to supply these; one of the ones that I liked the best is called Vizu and their Ad Catalyst product (no relation to my company, Catalyst:SF). They do a simple one question recall message and the response rates are pretty high. You can poke holes in all these methodologies, but the bottomline is that they are a great place to start.

The measure for Brand Love is more difficult and is more akin to brand loyalty in my mind. This is something that I don’t think can be measured without two primary components; a custom brand research study and a tie-in to sales. Sales are as direct a correlation to brand loyalty and love as you can achieve. If you spend money and sales go up, then the brand is creating loyalty. If you fluctuate the spend against advertising and marketing and the brand stays up, then you did a great job. If the sales decrease at any point, then loyalty and brand love are a problem because either there is no loyalty or the product is simply ineffective.

Don’t get sucked into the debate too deeply; there are lots of ways to track brand impact, awareness, loyalty and love. You just need access to the information and a partner that you can trust.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Art vs. Science Redux

I tend to think about advertising in terms of Art vs. Science quite a bit and I write about it just as much. This post I want to think a little more about this topic.

One way to think about it is that Art is the planning and creative development whereas the Science is in the numbers; the analytics, the optimization and the measurement of the performance of a campaign. When art and science merge effectively, you are pretty much guaranteed to be effective.

Much conversation has taken place as to whether you can have both. I'm starting to devise some thinking that, just possibly, science is analogous to advertising and art is analogous to marketing.

Advertising is increasingly being held to standards for performance such as click through and conversion and cost per action. Most of the banner buys and search campaigns online can be monitored for immediate performance and there's a large amount of companies that provide technology that addresses these metrics. Advertising can be measured more easily...

Marketing, on the other hand, is an art that can sometimes be measured on immediacy but is more importantly developed on "feel" or measured on a delayed action. I find marketing to something created to impact sales whereas advertising is created to drive immediate sales and be 100% attributable. Marketing as more forgiveness and is focused on the longer term results!

It's just the beginning of a distinction and it might not be 100% correct, but I will let you know what I'm thinking as we go forward! Stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Round-Up Volume 1, Issue 12: Round and Round and Round We Go, Where The Round Up Goes…

Nobody knows what we’re going to write about within the confines of each eagerly anticipated issue of the Round Up, least of all me. This week was especially mysterious because I’d spent so much time being out on the road that I barely had time to casually sit back, take a deep breath and take in what I’d experienced over the last two weeks! From Park City to San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco and New York I’ve racked up miles like an airline pilot, but thankfully there were lots of content and networking-heavy conferences with informational chit chat that led me to discover a number of new and interesting companies to share with you!

Of course we can’t talk about a Round Up of the last two weeks unless we talk about the big, stinky elephant in the room. The economy. The last two weeks have been tumultuous and things probably won’t get better before it gets a little bit worse. The ripple effects of what’s going on as a result of the mortgage crisis and the new restrictions on lending are clearly going to reach the start-up business in the coming months. It’s already becoming more difficult to raise money and belts are tightening now that the venture capitalists have returned from their summer vacations. This doesn’t mean that people won’t still fund great ideas, but you’d better do your homework and dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” if you hope to be successful! The angel route can be easier for gathering together the initial funding you need but don’t forget the term “bootstrapping”. Many of the companies we see and many of the ideas we hear about are capable of being bootstrapped for growth if only those in charge are thrifty and economical with their time. From my perspective, a successful start-up requires a scrappy, do-it-right-at-all-costs attitude. Those are the kinds of people that I would invest with and those are the kinds of people that are destined to be successful, especially in an economic environment such as this.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive right into it, shall we? Some of the best ideas that we’ve seen the last couple of weeks:

The TechCrunch 50 last week was an amazing source of new companies and funky ideas, but one of the best that we saw was GO PLAN IT (http://www.goplanit.com). The site is definitely in beta and needs to be populated with far more cities than it currently covers, but the idea is simple and the execution is elegant. If you’re going on vacation and you don’t know how to plan the activities of your trip, Go Plan It will take care of it for you! Go there and type in “San Francisco” as your vacation destination, enter the dates you’ll be there and let Go Plan It spit out your activity itinerary including all the recommended places to go and things to see, laid out in a schedule with times and directions. It’s one step planning for people like me who have a tendency to lose interest in the research required to get the most out of your trip. It’s like a knowledgeable travel agent without all the up sell!

Another company that stood out from that conference was FITBIT (http://www.fitbit.com). FitBit is a small device that you clip onto your body and it tracks your vitals and calorie burning activity through the course of the day, allowing you to log it in and focus on a healthy means of losing weight. The idea is not new, but once again the execution is elegant! Since the device is wireless, it automatically uploads the data as soon as you’re in close proximity to the base station, taking all the work out of your hands. People fall off diets because they get lazy, but now laziness is not an excuse!

One more from TechCrunch was BOJAM (http://www.bojam.com). BoJam is a tool that allows musicians to collaborate online without any restrictions such as location or time. It is a fully collaborative environment where you upload your music, mix it remotely with the music of other people and locate additional musicians to fill in the holes. If you ever heard “The Postal Service” (a spin-off of Death Cab For Cutie) you know that good music can be created regardless of boundaries. Now BoJam makes it even easier and more cost effective (no need to pay for stamps with this model).

Last week we mentioned a couple of our favorite iPhone Applications and this week we wanted to continue the trend. The first one to highlight is REQALL. ReQall is made for people like me who can’t remember anything without writing it down. I used to have a habit of sending myself emails with notes to remind me, but ReQall keeps a running track of my little reminders while also copying me with an email, getting that urgency into my inbox. If you’re on the go and you’re juggling too many balls, this is a great application.

SEARCHME mobile may not yet be an application, per se, but if you add it to your homepage you get a very functional image-based search engine. The format is clean and for those of us who like to see where we’re going, it’s a nifty way to search.

And of course, since it’s football season, don’t forget SPORTACULAR. Sportacular is a great interface for viewing sports scores and news but it’s also the only iPhone app that I’ve come across where you can keep track of your customized fantasy team! I actually keep my wife’s fantasy team in the phone so we can keep tabs on Sunday afternoon (Yes – my wife has a fantasy football team - those of you men who read that line are definitely jealous)!

Well. That’s enough for now. Thanks for reading this issue of The Round Up. Don’t forget to sign up for Facebook Group by requesting to join “The Digital Influentials” group.


The Simplest Strategy

Strategy can be simple - Strategy is simple.

The simplest strategy is just to listen to the customers, find out what you're doing wrong and come Monday morning you just stop doing dumb things. Listen to the people on the front line to hear what is wrong and then stop it (they tend to know much better than you do).

Strategy doesn’t always have to be over-thought. I stole these ideas over a lunch discussion from Clark Kokich of Avenue A / RazorFish in a conversation last week and I found them to be so simple and brilliant. rather than pretend these were my ideas, I wanted to give him credit. I never had the pleasure of meeting him before, but he is a very smart man and I can see why he has been so successful over the years.

I love simple ideas. Keep 'em coming!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More On Brand Loyalty...

I am hot on this topic...

If you are looking for some of the basics, check out this fun and exciting video!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How Do You Create Loyalty In A Down Economy?

"When the economy is in the midst of a bear market, brands can build stronger consumer loyalty than at any other period". This is a strategy that you've heard time and time again, but let's discuss why it makes sense!

First off, clutter. There are just fewer people spending when the economy tanks. If there are fewer advertisers, it can be more efficient to drive Share of Voice! You don't have to spend as much to meet the needs of your marketing campaign.

Also speaking of clutter, your message can break through easier when there are fewer advertisers. Of course, this can become a null point because overall we are seeing that consumers are becoming oblivious to advertising, so regardless of how much volume is out there, they just aren't paying attention.

The next best reason to spend in a down economy is that consumers tend to focus on what they know during these periods. Trust becomes a factor in deciding what to buy. You only spend money against the brands, products and services that you know work for you! If you are more concerned with every dollars, then you are more discerning with that same dollar.

Of course, there are many people that can tell you why to spend in a down economy who are better writers than I am. Check them out here:

Brand Loyalty...

Creating Brand Loyalty...

Have a fun time reading!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Does The Future Look Like? Or, What I Read On My Summer Vacation.

I wrote this article on Mediapost last week, but wanted to put it here as well...

This past Monday I had the pleasure of listening to a gentlemen named Jonathan Zittrain (author of a book called “The Future of the Internet: And How To Stop It”) speak about his vision for the future and in listening to his conceptualizations I focused on one component that was of interest to me in my marketing persona; that of the potential conflict facing marketers as they attempt to balance the two extremes of consumer behavior.

Of course I must caveat this point of view; it is rarely proper or effective to break the world into two extreme points of view and I’m not suggesting that Mr. Zittrain was doing so in his discussion. I am exaggerating to make a point. The world is not black and white, it is more closely representative of an infinite grey scale, but in order to see opportunities in the marketplace I find it can be useful to simplify the world using this technique.

On one side of the equation lies the over-eager media audience which engages with their passions in a participatory manner that borders on fanaticism but are skeptical in their views of all messaging pointed in their direction (let’s call them the “Participants”). This refers to wikipedians and all forms of User Generated Content contributors (bloggers, picture-posters, etc.) that create, distribute, police and maintain the content of the Internet. On the flip-side of this coin we have the average, every-day consumer who is myopic in their focus as the direct result of a constant barrage and the desensitization of their attention span (let’s call them the “Desensitized”). The Participants are the potential brand advocates if we can battle past their innate distrust and tap into their loyalties while the Desensitized are some of our best consumers if we could just find some way to break through the perimeter of their defenses.

The task for any true marketer is finding the way to do this and the answer seems to be in a number of ways other than standard advertising. For the Participants to trust a brand, the message must come from a peer or a colleague or someone they inherently trust. This is the area of Social Media and Product Placement. For the Desensitized to trust a brand you need only demonstrate to them the value of your brand in a way that merges rhythmically with their attention (ever notice how when you are in the market for a new car that you “notice” the car ads, but you don’t notice them when you aren’t). In the world of the Participant, word-of-mouth and implied endorsements are effective whereas the Desensitized need to be in a similar veined mindset for marketing effectiveness to be achieved.

In both of these models there is a future where paid media is a secondary option for the conveyance of a message and non-paid or distributed forms of media are more effective. Non-paid media is the typical term, but I’ve started referring to it as Distributed Media; the use of marketing dollars to facilitate the distribution of content and the implied endorsement that comes along with that relationship.

Distributed media actually uses marketing dollars as a conduit and a means to an end, rather than as an interruption. In the traditional model an ad is an interruption, but the consumer is either distrustful of the message because of the interruption or they don’t notice it because they are numb to these interruptions. Behavioral targeting attempts to make the ad more resonant with the consumer, but it is still an interruption. What about using the marketing dollars to create conduits for the distribution of content and acquiring the implied endorsement of the audience during that process?

We see these models taking shape already in Social Media tools like Facebook and in the Application space. Branded applications attempt to provide news, entertainment and other useful experience to the audience, in the hopes that the association with a positive experience will rub off on the brand. If the consumer enjoys the experience, they tell other consumers and the message spreads. If they don’t, then it stays still.

The concept is still young and it may be an over-complication of a much simpler fact that many brands these days are finding ways to build their brands without spending against paid media, but it was an intriguing concept nonetheless. A friend of mine, Renny Gleeson, wrote an article about how “Advertising is Dead”, but that the fact made him happy and I tend to agree!

Advertising is dead, or at least becoming less important than strategic marketing. The easy way was to buy an ad, but the more effective and infinitely more interesting way to build a brand is by balancing your knowledge of the behaviors of the audience you are targeting with a strategic way to distribute a message in a new and interesting fashion; hence Distributed Media.

Check out Jonathan Zittrain’s book, read Renny Gleeson’s article and make your own assumptions.

Tales of a New Media Junkie

I love to hear what others are doing and how they got hooked on new media. I remember when I first got into the space and how I spent my time (it's pretty much the same as how I spend it now - discovering and uncovering new ways to spend my time).

Marc Ostrick is telling us all about his conversion to the dark side of the force. Marc is a colleague of ours, but I like his writing and wanted to show you his story. You can check out his thoughts and such on the blog "Notes From An Online Video Junkie". Give it a shot.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shamwow Ads Are ShamTastic!

I love this ad!!!

Rock: Back In the USSerrr... Internet - BoJam

I love watching the new companies that are popping up and anything in music I especially pay attention to. I am an aspiring guitar player and these guys allow me to have a virtual band online! Not bad - and that way I don't need to actually see anyone in person!

Check out BoJam

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Wieden Collection

I call this the Wieden collection because they all come from the same shop... I wish I had this kind of creative skills and access to talent!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Star Wars Canteen - Too Funny Not To Post

Remembering 9/11

Please be sure to take a moment of silence today for those who lost their lives on 9/11. That was one of the worst days I will ever experience. I hope we never have to experience a day such as that again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Round-Up Volume 1, Issue 11: The New TV Season and the Round Up – Opposites Attract

It is finally upon us (drum roll please)… the Fall TV season is here! I’ve been watching a lot of Law & Order reruns since way before the Olympics overtook our DVR, but now the fall season is here and new episodes of our favorite shows (like Heroes), highly anticipated new shows (like Fringe) and of course… NFL Football! It’s as though a wave of fresh storylines have crashed upon the shores of our wind battered minds serving to replenish our malnourished imaginations. Of course, just because the TV has crept back into the pole position of our daily media mix with a vengeance doesn’t mean that we need to give any less attention to our favorite media, the Internet!

The online buzz seems to be around what impact the economy will have against online advertising, with companies revising their forecasts to reflect general economic uncertainty, but the economy doesn’t affect creativity and creativity is what spawns innovation.
The following companies which we came across over the last 2 weeks reflect innovation and ingenuity. They take existing challenges and create new solutions for the consumer. Check out what we have to say about them, then visit them yourself and formulate your own opinion. I think you’ll like what you see!

If you’re an iTunes user, and especially if you’re a power-iTunes user like I am, you need to check out TUNE-UP MEDIA (http://www.tuneupmedia.com/). Tune Up does exactly what it says – it “tunes up” your iTunes! You download the tool, and consider paying for it if you like, and use it to clean up your music. It will seek out cover art where the CD may have been missing it. It will fix song titles and fill in albums and artists, and it generally makes your iTunes catalog a little more organized. I paid the $19.95 lifetime fee and sat for well over 3 hours cleaning up my iTunes library. My Apple cover-flow is much better now, and for someone who likes organization as much as I do, it’s literally music to my ears!

If you own a car you know that there are lots of little details. You have to keep track of your warranty and insurance. You have to find mechanics, you may buy after-market accessories, and possibly you need more information regarding a second car. The web allows you to gather all this information, but not easily. That is until we found DRIVERSIDE (http://www.driverside.com/). Driverside is the first auto-targeted site that is not about purely buying or selling, but is about owning a car! If you want to know how to keep great care of your car and you’re looking for a single location to store the relevant information about your car, then check out Driverside. I recently met with them and I thought they were a great company with a solid idea!

Discovering new music online can be a fun activity, but it can also be very overwhelming very quickly! OURSTAGE (http://www.ourstage.com/) is a great place to get started because they give a home to new artists and they let the fans decide who should be the best! The OurStage site is sort of a little “Billboard of its own”. Fans and Artists post up their music and upcoming gigs and other fans vote on what’s good! I spend a lot of time looking at new music online and these guys just figured out a way to make it a little easier, so check them out and see if you find anything that tickles your fancy!

Of course, the Round Up is all about digital and these days you can’t be digital unless you take into account the application space, so from time to time I reserve the right to let you know about some of the coolest applications we’ve discovered and this week we want to highlight some of the coolest iPhone Apps we’ve seen thus far!

Beyond the obvious games and Internet applications that make sense on my iPhone, you have to check out the TRULIA app. The Trulia App is a real estate tool that allows you to pinpoint your location using the iPhone’s GPS system and locate open houses in your immediate area! For someone looking to relocate or for a real estate junkie looking to find deals in his or her area, this app is app-solutely addictive.

The YELP and URBANSPOON apps for iPhone are a perfect complement to the Trulia app because they allow you to find local restaurants and local businesses that meet your immediate needs. Yelp gives you reviews and UrbanSpoon gives you restaurant recommendations. The iPhone is an amazing tool when used properly which is why I can only envision the other carriers (TMobile, Verizon, Sprint) having their own App Stores in a matter of months.

Of course, the most useful App I’ve seen to date is a simple one called the WOOO BUTTON! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. It’s easily hours of fun for the whole family!

Well, that’s it for this issue. Have a great weekend and enjoy these cool sites and the new Fall TV season. Oh and don’t forget that Sunday is the first Sunday of the NFL season, so load your team into the SPORTACULAR App on your iPhone and start tracking your fantasy players!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do Media People Get a Bum Rap?

Is it possible that media people get a bum rap?

I speak to lots of sales people and I hear the horror stories they tell regarding the media planners they deal with. I hear stories about them, such as the following:

  • 5 media planners get taken for drinks and 3 of them do the "Irish goodbye". They go to the bathroom and then keep walking out the door without a thank you.
  • On average, when you do cold calls via email or phone you are lucky to get 5% to return your call or respond to your email.
  • A media planner goes to the spa with a rep, and then refuses to get a massage, but asks if they can take a gift certificate so they can give one to to their girlfriend for her birthday.

These are the types of stories that make my skin crawl. Anyone who has ever worked for me knows that ain't how you do business. You return calls. You always say thank you. When I was a media planner, the rules were as follows:

  • You came into the office before your boss and you left after they left.
  • At lunch you did not order an appetizer unless your client did first.
  • You never walked right into an office and interrupted the boss. You waited patiently until there was a moment which was appropriate.

I hear of media planners that break these kinds of rules all the time, but is it their fault? I'm starting to think it's not. It is very possible that the lack of training includes the lack of training against etiquette. If you don't know something is wrong can you be at fault for not following the rules? If you don't know you're doing something poorly, how can you be expected to fix it?

I always talk about the needs for training and I hope someone reads this and realizes that etiquette training is necessary. If so and you think you can help, ping me. I can line up a BUNCH of clients for you!

Friday, September 5, 2008

MediaBuyerPlanner - Good Reading

I recently rediscovered these guys and I like the site. I know there's too much out there to try and read, but you do need to find the places where the content fits best with your daily needs, and this is as good a place to read, so check them out!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarcasm Rocks

I love it when people speak sarcastically about our industry...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Most Thorough List Of Viral Video i Have Ever Seen!

The Oldest Living Digital Marketer has a lot of time (since he is the oldest living) to gather together viral videos and show you what some of the best, worst and most hyped are from the past 10 years (or at least from the last year).

Have fun reading and watching!!

What Effect Will Politics Have on Advertising?

The next 3-5 months are going to be interesting. The economy is definitely down and more advertisers are cutting back on their budgets. The Olympics are over and the Democratic and Republican conventions will be history in a few days, but what's going to happen to ad dollars between now and January?

With the uncertainty over who will be President comes the continued uncertainty of the housing market and the oil prices that are still too high. This may translate into a slower Q4 than we'd like! Ad dollars are going to be harder to get and they'll be more focused on actions and accountability. We keep talking about the goal of brand advertisers spending money online, but the brand advertisers are looking at actions too! Is it possible that brand advertisers will continue to be action-focused? If so, then performance will still be the name of the game and the dollars may grow at a slower-than-desired pace.

The only people that I know who will be spending are the Presidential candidates. Will they become the highest share of voice in the marketplace? Will a potential increase in supply drive prices further down as demand may be tight? I wish i knew the answers to these questions. It would make me sleep a little easier at night. That's for sure!

Using Search Tools for Start-Ups

I recently came across some very cool tools that search advertisers use to create and manage their campaigns but which I also think can be used for other purposes.

Microsoft AdCenter

Google Trends

I am not going to go into detail as to how you can use these tools for research, I will leave that up to you to figure out. What I am going to say is that in my business of examining start-ups, gathering data and developing sales and marketing strategies, these types of tools are very valuable. I can gather competitive information and do research that may help me to uncover a strategy that was not readily apparent. Examining trends is extremely important in and of itself and as a student of popular culture, these types of tools are invaluable.

Anyways, I don't want to take too much of your time. Check them out for yourself!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Little Primer on QR Codes

If you don't know what a QR Code is, then you need to do some homework because I think they are sort of important. A QR Code looks like a bar code, but more pixelated. It is a matrix design that can be read digitally and used to trigger the delivery of information in many formats. They are being used more widely now as a tool for creating interaction on a mobile campaign.

Ralph Lauren is using them this month in ads in and in its catalog. The trick is to take a picture of a code and SMS it and receive coupons or valuable information. It delivers on a promise of mobile that the Cue Cat never could.

They look a little techie, but I do anticipate that they are going to get more wide-spread usage very, very soon. They can be used on billboards too, giving a modicum of measurement to outdoor advertising.

For some light reading, check out these links below:

A video to explain how it works.

A detail from another blogger.

Have fun reading!!