Thursday, November 26, 2009

MEDIAPOST: Process Paralysis, A Lack Of Empowerment and The Need To Act Quickly (Sounds Like Fun)

I was reading some articles and catching up over the weekend when I came across an article from the British edition of Marketing Week written by Jamie Matthews, from an agency called Initials Marketing. Jamie was writing about the shift from advertising back to marketing, which is a topic near and dear to my own heart. I tend to feel that too many people don’t know the difference between the two, but the difference has become even more pronounced with the growth and expansion of digital media. Put simply, advertising is paid exposure and marketing is the full gamut of consumer and target audience interactions, of which advertising is just one single myopic component.

What was most interesting in the article, and what I wanted to call out, was his observation that in today’s fast paced world, it is even more important for marketers to think quickly, develop ideas rapidly and implement them in an efficient, effective and economic manner so they may read the results and optimize quickly.

I couldn’t agree more with this fact.

The problem with the agency model in today’s world is that far too many agencies suffer from decades of process and it’s created process paralysis. Most agencies are unable to act quickly and shift their strategy on a dime because they have to review it in meetings and debate the merits of the shift before they ever bring these ideas to the clients. To be honest, too many agencies are muddled in self-doubt from years of being second-guessed and having their ideas shot down. Too many agencies are unwilling to go forward on a hunch, even if that hunch is based on years of experience and a rationale set of observations.

Of course the agencies are not completely to blame because the clients have almost as much at fault. Most marketers are representing public companies and companies who answer to shareholders and we’ve created a culture where mistakes are not tolerated. This is easily reflected in the average length of a CMO’s job being about 18 months; how can you effect change in 18 months and not make a mistake or two? What success can you truly see when you have no tolerance for risk and your ideas are diluted half-versions of how they were originally developed? How can you trust the hunch of your agency partners when you are not empowered to take any risk?

The agency model is going to evolve, and in many cases is already evolving, to become more nimble, more confident, and more fluidly structured around their clients business. We’re seeing it happen daily and more agencies are starting to follow suit. The best agencies are the ones where the ego is checked at the door and the objectives of the team are in lock-step with the objectives of the client. When process is reduced to the bare basics to get strong work out the door and profitability is a secondary concern to the client’s needs. Any smart business person will tell you that if you align with the client’s needs first and you achieve them, profitability will come as well. With good work comes good rewards!

But before I go too far down the rat-hole of complaining about agencies, let’s get back to the original message that Mr. Matthews was conveying which resonated with me; that everything is moving faster. Decisions need to be made faster. Ideas need to be vetted faster. Clients and agencies need to be sharing their thinking faster and the ideas that are launched need to be evaluated faster. The speed of the process behind the development of these campaigns must be faster because the world around them is faster as well. Marketing is a consumer-centric discipline, and consumers are moving at the speed of light compared to most agencies.

I agree that marketers and agencies are just as smart as they were in the past and I would probably even concede that they are potentially smarter, what with all the data they have at their fingertips, but the process for putting that intelligence into action is woefully outdated and I applaud people like Mr. Matthews for calling it out. If more agency people would awaken to this realization I think we would indeed witness the rebirth and renaissance of the agency model.

Don’t you agree?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MEDIAPOST: My Prediction For 2010 Is A Simple One

My prediction for the coming year is… conservative and rooted in performance for CPG brands.

This is the time of year when one tends to look inwards; to understand how they performed in the previous twelve months and determine their course of action for attacking the coming twelve and achieving success. This past year was a rough one, to say the least, but it was also an amazingly fulfilling one. On a personal level I got married and had a son; two of the most fulfilling experiences that anyone can ever have. On a professional level our business has continued to grow in the face of adversity while the world around me has witnessed one of the most difficult economic periods of the last 80+ years. I have friends who are out of work and I have colleagues who are fighting hard to make ends meet. I’ve learned a lot about the inner workings of different kinds of businesses and I’ve decided that making predictions in a climate which is so tenuous and conservative could be a futile effort.

That being said, I have one sole prediction to make.

The coming year will continue to be a conservative one; with many companies focusing attention on what they do best, what works well for them, and trying to prove it. This brings me to the one single prediction I will make, which comes a result of introspection and years of experience in digital marketing. This year I predict that someone will finally bring a product to market that can prove the effect of online marketing on CPG purchases (awareness, consideration and intent) by measuring customer and/or shopper card data, leading to a renewed renaissance in online advertising that will bring it to the top position of paid advertising within 8 years (ahead of television).

There are a number of companies that are doing wonderful things with data; tracking shopper card data, taking social media data, tying into credit card data and purchase behavior from other outside resources. Some companies can tell you if the online ads you ran drove incremental sales against new customers or drove incremental sales frequency among existing customers, but only against a limited set of customers and placements. All of these efforts are getting us closer to the holy grail of understanding the effects (in real time) of online exposure to actual sales and applying these across the digital media mix. Many of these companies are focused on banner and display advertising, but once these methodologies are worked out, they could and should be applied to social media, mobile, search and video efforts. The methodology is there; track exposure and interaction through anonymous cookie data and match it to loyalty cards, shopper card and Nielsen Homescan data on a non-personally identifiable basis to create a viable data set that proves the correlation between exposure and sales. These are typically on a finite, niche level right now, but I feel and sense that someone in 2010 will bring to market a viable, scalable solution for this across the industry. Of course this assumption is based on the current environment of government regulation, but if the government moves ahead with regulating online advertising then all of these companies get thrown right out the window and my prediction goes to the wolves.

The silver bullet will be for a data solution to tell me what affect my digital media mix had on sales by tracking post-purchase data. If you, as a partner, can tell me with a 95% confidence level what impact I had on sales, you will get my budget. If you can tell me, isolating offline and online activity, what lift my online dollars drove, you will be in the driver’s seat and you will get the lion’s share of my budget.

Many people are promising this data and there’s a race to finish line that is clearly in site, but I feel like 2010 will be the year because in the last 3 months I’ve met with a number of companies, many of which are eerily close to the solution, with eyes on the final outcome.

Data is the name of the game, and using that data from an analytics perspective is the first place to look, and optimization is the second place. That is my prediction, because if this prediction comes true, then all other media will be playing catch-up. If this prediction comes true then dollars will flow into online from other media, at least until we achieve the proper media mix to work with.

I know that each of you will have different predictions, but what do you think about this one? Do you agree or do you think I’m nuts? Let me know – comment in the Spin Board and share with me what you think!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Digital Influentials Volume 1, Issue 9: The Rad 80’s Issue (for more info, please call 867-5309)

The theme this week is a simple one; the 80’s. From time to time I get bored, and when I get bored I can get just a little bit creative. I also tend to listen to music when I get bored, but that goes without saying since I’m pretty much always listening to music!

This week’s issue of the Digital Influentials newsletter finds me pining for the 80’s; when life was simpler and the Internet didn’t even exist. Those were the days when the phrase “kilroy was here” meant something and “love is a battlefield” ruled the airwaves! It could be that way once again, if you “don’t stop believin’” in the “power of love” (ok, ok – stop me if this is getting too cheesy). So with that, I deliver this week’s newsletter; and please know that (everything I do), I do it for you, the readers ;-)

Let’s “rock this town” kids!

If you’re looking to say something, but would rather “save it for later”, then check out TWEETLATER ( Tweetlater comes to us from Mark Silva, who is also a fan of the 80’s (we hope). TweetLater allows you to schedule tweets for a later date, like when you’re on vacation or when you know you won’t be available and you don’t want to leave your faithful hanging! Twittering can be a full time job, but at least this way you can get ahead of the curve a bit.

If you think “we got the beat” on that one, then just wait till you hear about AARDVARK ( Aardvark is an IM crowd sourcing tool for getting the answer to just about any question. Do you want to know who played the Reverend in “footloose”? Ask away. Ever wanted to know how to avoid the noid? Just ask! The answers come to you via email, and you can sign up to answer questions that come to you via IM. It’s a unique little service and one that could certainly gain some traction cross-platform.

Looking to get away? Maybe take a “holiday”? Then check out SKY AUCTION ( for more deals than you know what to do with. It’s another auction site for travel, which is certainly not a new idea, but the volume of opportunities is quite impressive. It makes you want to “walk like an Egyptian”, in a manner of speaking!

“Rock me Amadeus” (sorry, that just slipped out from nowhere).

From the world of the iPhone, check out GALAGA REMIX for some time wastin’ fun or dive head first into AWESOME 80’s PRO to relive those days of yore when you got your first Trapper Keeper. And for some humor, check out the YO MAMA joke app. It could be hours of fu… or not.

So with that I will bid a fond adieu, but “don’t you (forget about me)” when you find that new site or service of interest! Send it in to us so we can let other people know all about it! That is the kind of user interaction that reminds me of “what I like about you”.

Have a great one!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Search Aids Awareness

Good piece from Google.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The U2 YouTube Boadcast

Did you know that the recent U2 broadcast of their show from The Rose Bowl, which was aired exclusively on YouTube, generated an audience of 10MM viewers? If you look at the most recent set if Nielsen data which shows the audience for TV shows, that would be a top 8 show. And if you take out Sunday Night and Monday Night Football, it would be in the top 6.

How's that for the argument that TV is a better reach vehicle than the Internet.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is Skype Killing The Job Interview?

I think this article from Time magazine is infinitely interesting - it is about how many employers are starting to interview candidates over Skype before they pay for their travel, etc. I think it's brilliant and worth the read...