Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Shift of Dollars to Digital Ain't the Revolution, Push to Pull Is!

Reggie Williams had this to add to the discussion, I like it:

"I think the proliferation of different media options is driving advertising (and agencies alike) to get down to the true essence of marketing.  Howard Gossage said:
'Advertising may seem like shooting fish in a barrel, but there is some evidence that the fish don't hold still as well as they used to and they have developed armour plate.  They have control over what type of ammo you have, when the trigger gets pulled, and how fast your shot moves.  Oh, and they're not all in the same barrel anymore.'
The shift from traditional media to digital isn't a revolution, the shift from screaming at people to buy a product to advertising as a 2-way dialogue between a brand and consumers is. This dialogue can happen using any medium as long as its relevant and targeted. Some agencies were built on this premise and that is why I have posted the top 3 ads by media-neutral agencies that happen to do video. check it out at: LINK."

Some interesting work there, especially Anomaly's "The Guy in the Jacket" clip, the client for which I'm still trying to work out!  (But hey, same could be said for Cap C's "Bridezilla Wigs Out"!)

A Shift in Marketing Strategy from Awareness to Engagement Means Big News for Experiential, NOT Social Marketing

Comment on AdAge to the news that Online has passed TV in overall spending.  Link:   In a First, Web Advertising Outpaces TV in U.K.

This isn't some earth-shattering moment in history (unless you've got all your eggs in the broadcast TV basket), it merely signals the vast amount of media choice that is opening up.  Key is the strategic "re-purposing" from awareness to engagement.

There is now incessant hype about the shift to increased digital/online/mobile spending (I fear we're still going to see a couple of years of attempts, like Hulu, to shift the 'push marketing model' of repeating the same boring video ads ad infinitum to the online space -- you know this is NOT "pull marketing" and it will kill the opportunity!), but this isn't the big news. What we should be talking about is what a shift to 'engagement' means to how marketing campaigns are developed. Instead of starting from "How do we build a brand through repeating the same thing over and over in as many media as we can afford?", the new marketing model has to start from "Ideally, what should a person's first experience with this product be like?", then "How do we build upon that first 'brand experience'?"

What this suggests is a shift of any brand's initial, core spending away from video, or radio, or 2-dimensional ads to: "People as a Medium" (to lift a description of the "engagement concept" from Aidan Tracey at Mosaic) and "Making Connections" (to lift an alternative description of the "engagement concept" from CIM's LAUNCH!, Canada's other major XM agency). The big news here is a shift of significant dollars to a realm that is currently in every switched-on brand's marketing mix, but trivialized: Experiential Marketing -- 100 times the cost of a TV or online "impression", but 1,000 times more effective in terms of establishing life-long brand loyalty. (Don't quote me on the actual effectiveness numbers -- the point is valid and we all know it from our personal experience with face-to-face product demos.)

What is not glamorous about XM is the fact that it is not new and shiny (and mysterious!), like the emerging online/mobile media (I've resisted becoming a "Social Media Consultant," to my bank account's chagrin). In fact, one-on-one marketing has been around since the first stone-age farmers' market, right through snake-oil salesmen at traveling fairs, door-to-door Fuller Brush-men, and "blue-haired" ladies in the supermarket aisle. A powerful, long-lived medium that is 100% "advertising-appropriate" -- while "social media" are entirely "advertising-INappropriate" (social media are arenas for PR and listening/research).

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The "Marketing 3.0" Ad Agency

Some weeks ago I mentioned (link) a comment by Patrick Meyer on an AdAge article. He's a partner in a new agency called (link) "NOW Inc." based in Miami and with all the interest my last post has been getting, I wanted to feature his thinking regarding one take on what the successful agency of the future will have to do.  What he describes is essentially the need to stop being ad agencies and become strategic planning focused.  With his permission, here's part of his comment on AdAge:

"The consumer and technologies are leading and it has left most marketers scrambling.  The antidote? Re-invent yourself -- move to the new Marketing 3.0 Model.

"In our prior marketing company Fusion 5, we were the front edge of marketing--driving the shift from 1.0 to 2.0. Now in 2010 we are championing Marketing 3.0. How?
  1. Insights:  As Donna Hoffman's McKinsey article mentions "listen".  Immerse yourself in insights around current attitudes and behavior--on everything from social marketing to post Desperation Economy attitudes and everything in between.  Then spend a few hours with Twitter and do some hash-tag research of your own--and it will open your eyes.
  2. Brand Strategy:  Yes, this discipline still applies yet it is the inputs and implications that are usually different.  The brand positioning and strategic platform is still the cornerstone--yet evolving attitudes challenge you to find the connective tissue for your brands.
  3. Innovation:  For this news value and innovation hungry population--you need to have a pipeline of ideas.  And these innovations are more than product, package or service applied--it has to be marketing innovation. We have teams in Bangalore, India building iPhone/Facebook apps (generation ahead--fraction of the cost).
  4. Marketing Connection 3.0:  There is an evolved marketing purchase funnel.  Personal experience is the number 1 driver, then family/friends word of mouth (including digital WOM); then 3rd party endorsement in the form of an expert blog, a massive barrage of Twitter responses or Consumer Reports online.  Then personal research online is the 4th driver.  All of these factors are in the 72% to 52% level of importance. (advertising is between 10%-30% at best).
"And this is where the obsolete marketer/agency issue is. If you are on Marketing 1.0 or 2.0 you are vulnerable. You have to be in today and tomorrow's game.

"Now add a piece that every CEO and most CMO's are screaming for in the recessionary economy--DELIVER MARKETPLACE PERFORMANCE. Deliver sales/share/profits. Recently one of our clients told his agency head: "bring me ideas to turnaround our sales decline!". Truth be told, the agency has no/limited expertise in turning around or driving sales thru marketing solutions. And this is the biggest challenge that is unknowingly inside of Marketing 3.0 (it is not just about Facebook and iPhone apps).

"At NOW, we champion Marketing 3.0 in its performance delivering form.  We have NOW SWAT teams that do projects rapidly in less than 6 weeks. Our teams include ethno/cyber insights, 3.0 strategy, digital innovation/design, SEO expertise for online and social planning , cyber PR, Blog & Tweet teams, etc.

"So it is your choice, shift to 3.0 (or go the way of most of Madison Ave.)

Patrick Meyer, CEO, NOW Inc.  Follow him on Twitter: PatrickMeyer"

A very solid "marketing agency" approach and his point #4 is especially apropos.  It speaks to the link between experiential and social media as consumers move towards loyalty.  Here's a link to my original take on "advertising vs. marketing agencies."

Monday, 28 September 2009

Experiential Marketing Trumps Social as a Campaign Starting Point Every Time, Even Mother Agrees...

Comment to AdAge article on "Mother", an agency who just won more NBC business, in part, by creating a new business model for both client and agency. Link: Mother Births New Model for 'Mass Roots' Marketing 

Interesting the consistency that is emerging in the new agency business model. As the dinosaurs, owned by global holding firms driven by conservative, change-averse accountants and shareholders, continue to whistle a happy tune and try to merely keep their global clients "happy enough" with their ATL performance, major brands are gradually shifting to smaller, more nimble agencies like Mother. The attrition, driven by the new reality, will continue until the natural conclusion (RIP), just like the railway barons of old.  

What we're seeing amongst ALL the brightest new flames is not foremost genuine "media neutrality/agnostic", but a shift to MORE of what used to be called "strategic planning" as the winners shift from being "advertising agencies" to "marketing agencies", and in doing so become true partners to their clients. What we're also seeing with firms like Mother and Anomaly in London is a shift from a broken commission model to revenue-sharing. Now, as the clients are resistant to this idea, we're seeing these agencies simply side-step the issue and become entrepreneurs, finding ways to adopt new business models that provide direct revenue.  

The latter is proof of yet another of the new strategic criteria for the new agency model: the innovation of new business models, not new brand campaigns, for their clients, certainly, but in parallel for themselves. Where this has been most sadly lacking is in the realm of social media, where we've been seeing so many unscrupulous agency types trying to sell the only thing that works naturally on social media (which is purely public relations), as advertising/marketing. Some new agencies are just now beginning to invent real marketing efforts for social networks (e.g. Mother's "Golden Local").  

It's about time that agencies stop giving away billion dollar IP in exchange for ever-declining cash-flow from global clients, and that is exactly what happens when an agency develops a break-through new marketing idea in Montreal or Durban and the client uses it worldwide. There are thousands of young entrepreneurs (like Facebook's Zuckerman refusing to sell out) forcing a change in that old model and the ad agencies of the future WILL figure out how to turn this around.  

One last plug for where I think the biggest media dollar shift is going to go in the coming couple of years, and it's going to be one more critical component in any successful ad agency's media-mix toolbox. Above, Mother calls it "Mass-Roots Marketing: You start with an event or something that happens in a small community in one locale and you're looking at it to amplify out from that." You all know, or are slowing coming around to seeing, what is at the roots of "mass-roots marketing" -- it's experiential.  

XM is the root of what Fast Company is calling the new age of "One-on-One" marketing, face-to-face, deeply connecting brands to instantly loyal consumers. 100 times more expensive than a TV impression, but 1,000 times more effective at changing consumer behavior on the spot.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

CPCC: A Viable New ROI Metric Label?

Comment on article by Mark Sherman of Media Experts on  Link: "Cost Per Maybe?" in which he suggests it is now time to toss out CPM and introduce CPCC: Cost Per Consumer Contact.

Wow! Mark, for a "legacy" media guy (and "legacy" folks tend to cling to what they know and thus are comfortable with) this is fairly heretical!  What you are talking about is really what will save the media planning/buying business.  It might even save the ad agency business! 

What everyone is beginning to see is that the future of marketing (now that they've told us they never liked or wanted 'push marketing' with it's non-stop repetition of the same messages), is going to be about what works best with people: 'one-on-one engagement'.  People want to buy brands and are interested in brand information, they just don't want to hear a brands TV/radio ad more than once.  If we can communicate it directly, face-to-face (experiential marketing - XM), they might just become brand loyal for a long time.

What that suggests is that, regardless of whether their first 'brand experience' comes through a video seen via TV, the Internet or a mobile phone, or through a blog post, or a friend's reco at their house, etc., what is crucially important is that "Cost per Consumer Contact", as you've called it.  This is a game-changer.  It is the ROI that the XM segment has been searching for over the past decade.

The point is that, once you accept a shift away from the comfort of the GRP and realize that Frequency is now dead (not reminder messages, just NOT the same :30 ad being repeated to the same people ad infinitum), you open up the industry's minds to the notion that a CPCC might be 100 times higher than a CPM, but also might be 1,000 times more effective.  That's a very insightful (and radical!) point.

The number one priority in increasing the shift of "push marketing" ATL dollars to the far more "pull marketing" type of experiential efforts through XM (versus the "push marketing" style shift we're now seeing to digital and mobile), is establishing a guideline for a new kind of ROI metrics.  The CPCC is something that crosses over from XM to all media and could become a universal measure.  I like it!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Measuring Social Media Influencers' "Value" Ensures We'll Ruin Marketers' Credibility, Again...

Comment on Fast Company article by Adam Penenberg, author of "The Viral Loop" and inventor of a new Facebook metric to measure contributors social networking value:  How Much Are You Worth to Facebook?

Adam, like the work you've done, especially the widget and what it does in terms of making another step towards ascribing a value metric on social network marketing value. I beg to differ a tad with what you and Lotame are using as a premise, however.

The entire "above the line" advertising business model for the past 100 years has been 'push marketing' -- keep hammering away at the masses with the same message until they cannot forget it and they'll buy your stuff. Virtually THE INSTANT that consumers were given a voice via the internet they told us all loud and clear they did not want any more 'push marketing'. This brought about predictions that brands were about to be killed off and that marketing was soon to become extinct. Turns out that since the day that the chief of a cave-person tribe donned a rare shell necklace, humans have craved brands, however, so they'll never go away.

What the latter suggests is merely that marketing has to evolve into a 'pull model' that consumers like better. To one of the points I keep banging my drum about, this means that, versus the complacent (and hugely egotistical, looking at Cannes) ad agency business model we had for almost 100 years (did I mention 'lucrative' -- up till 1995?), what were formerly called "ad agencies" must now evolve from paying lip service to being 'partners' to their clients, they actually have to now become "marketing agencies", inventing new business models for their clients' brands and insisting up on a revenue sharing model (I hear collective gasps from both sides of the fence).

Perhaps the biggest casualty of all this evolutionary change has been what I call "the death of frequency"; NOT the death of reach, but a switch to micro/hyper-targeting; NOT the death of 'reminder' brand messages, but the death of stultifying repetition. Nor is it the death of the tried and proven marketing model of "you can watch something fun/interesting/entertaining if you're willing to watch my brand's message". People are more than happy to make that trade, whether the channel is TV, online or their mobile phone, as long as the ads are pertinent to them and don't get repeated endlessly (think "Mac vs. PC guys").

But what do we do with tens of thousands of ATL media people around the globe who have never worked with anything but GRP's (reach times frequency)? Right now most everything that Andy Monfried, and yourself, Adam, are doing, along with anyone else who is getting any 'ear-time' from the big media influencers, smacks of GRP calculation and 'push marketing' thinking. Naturally, it has to, as the media people have no other familiar measure to work with yet and we have to continue to use language they're familiar with. That doesn't mean that turning individual 'influencers' into 'measured media' is going to be the marketing metric of the future.

Sometimes I think my teachers were all wrong back in school and that I really am just stupid, not a 'creative thinker', but the only natural solution that will work for the future of 'pull marketing' is something we're close to, but no one has 'thrown the switch on' yet. It is the 'Holy Grail' of marketing, first really seriously bandied about in the early 90's when the Psion and Palm became ubiquitous: fully addressable advertising. (No, NOT LBS coupons for coffees, but having ads played to you that you really DO want to see.) Someone could do it tomorrow with teens via their cellphones (teens have low 'privacy panic' thresholds), but as all the decision-makers are old farts well-versed/immersed in 'privacy panic', they haven't seen the light, yet...

Once you have fully addressable advertising, tested with youth and filtering up into the older demographics, you have no need to pay people 5-10% commission on what their friends buy, as Vasanth Sridharan has suggested because people will all watch ads for free and, also for free, will influence their friends. What we're all doing by trying to monetize socializing (there's a reason I'm using this parlance) and measure influencers' value, then pay them for leveraging it ('people as a medium' in the words of Aidan Tracey from Mosaic XM) is killing our credibility all over again as marketers.

Anything that is labeled "social" is NOT an advertising-appropriate medium. Period. It is people SOCIALIZING -- marketing, an activity that inherently involves making payments to help push products, has no place in social discourse. The MOMENT we inject financial incentives into social discourse the 'influencer' loses all credibility. For example, 'socializing' happens in a market square, but there's a clear and distinct line between a chatty tomato farmer and a transaction they make. Yes, being chatty (social) helps make a sale, but the consumer has gone there to buy stuff. This is only the case in 'social media' when I have announced my willingness to buy by logging onto Crest's Facebook fan page (a cute experiment that is likely to go away over time).

What Lotame is doing is highly suspect over the long-term (although I'm sure they'll evolve/morph along with how people use emerging media), as is your attempt to evaluate and ascribe a value to social network members. Anyone who gets financial compensation for endorsing something is automatically judged non-credible. Yes, there's tremendous value in better understanding how it's all going to work as these new media emerge, but paying people to endorse or 'chat-up' products is not a viable marketing tactic any more than paying bloggers was. Successful marketing efforts will continue to happen outside people and groups' social interactions, but they'll continue to 'talk about our efforts around the water cooler' like they always have. Social media's real value is in LISTENING to how well our marketing activities are doing, not in injecting our message into people's conversation.

As I've blogged before, just because the masses socialize via emerging media, doesn't mean we've got new mass media!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

People Communicate En Masse in Social Media, That Doesn't Make it Mass Media

Reply to Comment posted below re: "The Future of Adland":

JReynolds said...

Thanks for your thinking. I agree with much of it, but to call social media "identical to telephone" technology reveals a fundamental mis-understanding of the tool.
To share a message with 1,000 people via a telephone would take weeks. To share it via social media takes 10 seconds. The result is that information -- grassroots opinions, knowledge, etc. -- is transmitted so quickly with so much traceability that it renders 1-way broadcast mediums obsolete for communications (but not necessarily entertainment).

Ah, you're entirely right, JReynolds, but I'm talking about the nature of 'SOCIAL communication', not the way the technology works. I believe there's a fundamental difference between emerging media that will prove to be appropriate for injecting marketing messages, and those that, like the telephone, are not appropriate for interrupting conversations with marketing efforts. We're all learning as we go, but all the best-in-class advice we're hearing today about marketers' involvement in the new 'social media' is all speaking to PR efforts, NOT marketing, per se (outside of display ads on the social sites).

Yes, offering up contests, polls, useful sponsored apps, etc. are ways for brands to get talked about and shared (as is advertising on ATL - the ideal was to have folks talking about our ads around the water cooler and on the phone), but I remain convinced that the fundamental, underlying nature of what is happening when this happens willingly amongst members in a social network does NOT equate to marketers feeling free to mess about inside these media. To Phil's point about what our "Holy Grail" is, we WANT people to talk about our brands and marketing efforts in social media/networks, but that is NOT the same as trying to manipulate the conversations happening within the media.

Marketing, I believe, will always work best when we recognize the invisible (and shifting) line between advertising-appropriate and 'not-so-much' media. Let's do campaigns, let's acknowledge the growing recognition that only experiential marketing puts the brand experience in people's hands, but let's not blindly believe that just because there's a new medium through which people are communicating en masse, that that makes it a mass medium.

The Future of Adland

Comment to Phil Johnson's article on Creating the Future of Adland

Phil, you're always insightful! Here's some more 'grist for the mill' from a variety of switched-on sources:
  1. Advertising (the "push model", as we knew it) is dead. The agencies that survive will have to become "Marketing Agencies". Patrick Meyer at Now has a really insightful approach:
  2. Fast Company is pointing to the fact that this new 'post ice-age' era of marketing can best be labeled "one on one marketing". What does that suggest about where marketers should shift their dollars? Not from ATL to predominantly digital/online, and certainly NOT to an advertising-inappropriate space like "social" (a space for listening and PR, not manipulating), but to experiential marketing.
  3. In that same vein, the new focus for successful marketers will not be 'branding' products, but starting from thinking through what the initial 'brand experience' has to be to best showcase the product/service, whether it is via a blog a micro-target reads, or trial at a friend's house, or through a sample thrust into their hands during an in-mall event.  The key to this new strategic approach, and the name of a new ROI metric measure being developed industry-wide, is "BRAND ENGAGEMENT" -- how 'connected' all our "pull marketing" efforts have made people feel with any brand, NOT the mindless 'top of mind awareness' we've hammered into them with the endless repetition that is "push marketing".
  4. Thinking about what "Holy Grail" means in a general sense, can't agree that the industry's 'grail' is the simple, universal goal of proven ROI (increasing sales). I think the real "Holy Grail" we've been searching for is addressable-advertising, NOT simple LBS, but FULLY addressable-advertising that every individual in the world welcomes because we only see ads for products we're really interested in, at the moment we are ready to listen/buy. Now THAT is a Holy Grail!
  5. Much of the comments above, as well as your points, speak to the age-old goal of partnership between agencies and marketing clients. That's not going to happen until agencies share their clients' risks and rewards -- a new revenue-sharing business model, in other words. Which brings us to another new theme...
  6. To succeed now, "marketing agencies" need to focus on helping to invent/develop innovative new business models for their clients and themselves, not new brands or branded campaigns.
Just some thoughts, but this new biz model thing is what the agency business has been struggling to figure out (link:) ever since P&G began slowly "nickel and diming" us to death back in the early 90's.

This whole new "social media" hoopla is just a red herring -- to your point, it's going to go away once the average folks out there realize what it is they're all mesmerized by at the moment is identical to telephone technology, one of the first technological 'social media'.  (My point being that, while the newest 'social media' facilitate faster, broader 'socializing', they do not suggest that a wholesale behavioral revolution is taking place -- people still like getting stuff for free or at a discount and the tactical efforts most marketers are having success with in today's 'social marketing' is just more of the same, promos that people talk about around the water cooler.  There's nothing 'mysterious' or breakthrough about these new technologies.)

For the post that started me thinking about these changes, click on this sentence.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Aha! An "Emerging Marketing Quiz" on Some Insights that Might Matter

  1. “Social Media” + “Marketing” doesn’t work. What established MarCom specialty does fit “social”? Everything that the self-styled 'Social Media' gurus recommend are public relations, NOT advertising, or even marketing efforts, and there's a distinct difference between the disciplines for a good reason.  PR has always been about "pull" marketing, "push" died the day 'the internets' when 'viral'.
  2. The WWW brought about the death of repetition in advertising. Which major marketer has figured this out? Apple: cheaply produced ads, in a large variety of timely new messages, running on every possible channel, with engaging characters, at very low frequency.
  3. How is Procter and Gamble, in trying to cut costs, helping to kill creativity at their 'creativity suppliers'? By pushing for margin transparency and very low production budgets, as they already did with their ad agencies, Procter is preventing the opportunity for the truly brilliant producers and directors from making really big bucks. The result? (link to post:)  Those creative entrepreneurs leave those businesses seeking others where they can make 'real' money.
  4. The telephone was the third major technological ‘social medium’. What were the first two? The first was (link to post:)  the evolution of our ability to make images/symbols to communicate visually, the second was the printing press.  We're likely to see a lot more in the coming years.
  5. What is Twitter, really? How would you sum up its REAL usefulness? (link to post:) Twitter is simply an instant, INTERACTIVE news service -- global, public, 24/7, searchable and both mobile and Internet accessible. (It's NOT a source for hearing what people are having for lunch!)
  6. Empowerment of consumers is forcing radical adaptation on ad agencies. What will they have to become? They are going to have to change their focus from creating clever advertising to creating clever marketing solutions -- new business models for clients' products, new products, leading change, not simply leading 'edginess'. (link to post:) From being ad agencies, to being "Marketing Agencies" and true client partners, right down to revenue sharing agreements.
  7. What is Facebook’s real long-term value for youth versus adults? What’s it good for, really? For young people it is an instant, one-stop multi-media destination to be socially connected and increasingly is becoming their chief source of news, like a junior CNN. (link to post:) For adults its simply a good way to stay in touch with long-lost acquaintances.
  8. What’s the 3 word name for marketing’s ‘Holy Grail’? Hint: it’s here but no one’s switched it on yet: "FULLY Addressable Advertising."  The growing proliferation of smartphones and the willingness of today's teens both (link to post:) to forego privacy concerns and experiment, plus their demand for instant gratification, means that FULLY addressable advertising could be initiated today, if someone just (link to post:) built the webservice to do it and invited teens to try it.
  9. What’s the future of Twitter content? What will continue and what will go away in tweets?  No one really wants to know what you had for lunch.  Really not.  We do want to know what you thought about, or encountered, that might make a difference in the world.  As Twitter matures, more and more 'tweeters' will start abandoning the empty-headed, frankly juvenile 'novelty' use of the service, censuring those who abuse it, and will only follow people who constantly and consistently contribute innovative, quality, low-frequency insights and links.  Help be a part of the evolution and make Twitter into cyberspace's REAL all-encompassing instant, INTERACTIVE news and information service.  (Although I suspect there will always be celebrities feeding the need for worship at a micro-level!)
  10. Media News point to a horrific 2010 ATL decline. $ will shift to online + what other ancient medium?  We live in "The Experience Economy" (and have done so for over a decade!), we collect experiences, we have a single memorable encounter with a product that addresses our needs and we become loyal for life.  Online/digital/social/interactive/mobile are all perfectly lovely emerging media channels and will eventually earn their fair share of spending, but the real core of any successful brand is going to be consumers' first real exposure/experience with the product in their daily lives, and the secret to that is (link to post:) experiential, face-to-face, buyer to seller (like humans have interacted in marketplaces since the dawn of our existence), marketing efforts.
  11. Micro-payments might help revive newspapers’ biz model, but would another subscription-style model?  Let's face it, the attempt to put an off-line business model of each individual paper/publisher charging hundreds of dollars a year for access to each of their archives is cost-prohibitive for the average reader, ESPECIALLY given that access was free for some time.  As soon as one service gets set up successfully to (link to post:) charge us each $39/month for access to hundreds of archives, then arranges micro-payments to each publisher by tracking what I accessed, everyone will win.
  12. The growing global obesity challenge won’t go away until what change is forced upon marketers? As long as marketers (manufacturers) are free to tap into human beings' innate tendency to become addicted to sugar, fat and salt, along with our desire for 'convenience', the majority of consumers will not be able to resist their product offers and obesity levels will continue to climb.  We're just not that good at being rationale, thinking long-term and using willpower.  The driving force behind today's increasing obesity problem is not even human's inclination to become addicted to tasty stuff, it's our innate tendency to want to get rich quick -- (link to post:) driving manufacturers to push products that clearly harm our species health without regulation or ethical restraint.

Ad Agencies are Dead, Long Live "Marketing Agencies"!

Comment to Jeff Goodby's review of Bob Garfield's new book in AdAge (link): Storied Creative Reviews Garfield's 'Chaos Scenario' but Doesn't Buy His Theory

Patrick Meyer of NOW Inc wrote a (link) comment to another article today that I think is one pretty accurate take on what agencies (and their clients) are going to have to do to re-strategize their business models and their approach to marketing challenges.

What I take away is pretty simple: the newly empowered consumer is telling us that there's no more room for 'advertising agencies', but there is a lot of room for 'marketing agencies' who benefit from sharing in their clients' financial success via new revenue sharing models. Ad agencies create :30 mini-movies they enter at their private Academy Awards (in Cannes and elsewhere); 'marketing agencies' create new business models and solve their clients' marketing challenges and win their 'awards' for turning around sales declines. Ad agencies pay lip service to "partnership"; 'marketing agencies' dive in and act like their revenue depended upon acting like real marketing partners.

Yes, a radical decline in revenues led to the reduction of agency investment in 'strategic planning' and many clients took that role onboard internally, but what most of the dinosaur agencies didn't figure out is that the changes that have taken place over the past 15 years in the marketing industry have meant that that agencies need to be investing MORE in strategic planning, firing the account people who are clever enough to contribute, and inventing new business models, not new branding campaigns. They must "Stop Being an Agency and Start Being an Agent of Change." (link)

There's going to have to be a shift in marketing efforts in general away from 'brand building' (through endless repetition of branded messages) towards a different starting point: how to build a compelling and engaging initial product experience (sometimes trial, sometimes just exposure) for narrowly targeted 'audiences', on a growing multitude of 'emerging media'. What that points to, for me, is a shift in marketing spending from messages in media, to one-to-one, real brand experiences.

All this is going to mean a step-change from the business models we are all familiar with. To quote Bruce in the comment section to Jeff's article:
"What we do (making ATL campaigns) just stops making economic sense if it doesn't impact vast chunks of the population (shift from watching TV to the Internet and consequent rejection of 'push' marketing). That's the problem we have to solve now. The opportunity to redeem advertising passed a decade ago. Now, the question is, what will replace it?"
You know what I think will replace a large portion of the ad spend, Bob: experiential marketing -- real experience with products presented by an engaging brand ambassador, either face-to-face, or facilitated online, or via smartphones, or other emerging media.

Click here for a list of some crucial changes today's ad agencies might effect to come out the other side of this Marketing Ice Age on top.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

"Social Marketing" - Telemarketing in a New Guise!

You know, the hype (Google hits) about "wikinomics" died off quickly.  Same thing with "micro-targeting", but the hoopla surrounding "social media" is just grinding on and on, like a rumor about buried treasure.  (A not inappropriate analogy...)
Here's a thought to start off.  "Social Media" is not a new media category.
The first social medium (in its broadest definition) is eyesight: a happy face, a flirty glance, a 'back-off' look.  The next is touch: a handshake, nose rub, punch in the nose.  Then we have face-to-face speech, then the introduction of technology, like leaving marks behind for others to figure out stuff about our current socializing feelings ("Oh-oh, head on a stake!  They're not feeling friendly!"), or writing letters.  The telephone is a technological social medium, as is voice-mail.  Video-conferencing is a social medium, as are emails, texting, blogs, Flicker and many of the other emerging media.  

But is any 'social medium' really advertising-appropriate?  We know that TV, print, radio and banner ads are appropriate -- free content we want/like/are interested in paid for by sponsor companies -- but is interrupting or manipulating any social communication between two people, or many, appropriate?

I read an interesting blog post yesterday: "Is This Social Media Bubble Deadly?" that I thought was remarkably level-headed and introspective for someone with a vested interest in "social marketing".  David Spinks is basically asking if people related to the business are not so entirely entranced with the wonder and mystery of working in an emerging media space that they cannot see that it has nowhere near the intrinsic value to justify the money being spent on it.

The early days of website development saw designers who'd yet to graduate from school getting paid gazillions of dollars to put up websites that really were of no more benefit to the corporations than a Yellow Pages ad.  Profit margins were running at 90% for a while there!

Same is true of any new, and therefore both unknown and seductive, media.  Clients have no idea what the cost should be, but need to execute a program fast or be seen to be lagging their competitors, so they shift $1 million to a new budget line and ask if that will be sufficient to get the job done.  Ecstatic 'emerging media' entrepreneurs put $900k in the bank, then gleefully proclaim that their newly invented 'medium' is the second coming and blog rapturously (and tweet endlessly) about it as they fly coast to coast and back again to attend and speak at 'forums' with like-minded enthusiasts.  

Folks, I'm not against entrepreneurial types from making a quick buck.  (Hell, I like to think that I'm entrepreneurial -- not!)  What I'm definitely FOR is fair and reasonable value for money.  Value. Value for my clients, for their brands and value for the newly empowered consumers out there.  

A couple of years ago I read an equally ecstatic rave (it wasn't a rant!) about Second Life from a Creative Director. He went on and on about how it was the world of the future and exhorting that anyone not spending most of their waking hours living a virtual second life online in the person of an avatar was missing the boat.  Not sure if he still has his job, but after a bunch of companies spent way too much money opening virtual stores, offices and islands on Second Life I haven't heard much more from the cheerleaders.  As an experiment in new technology, and in the science of human behavior, Second Life remains an important and illuminating experiment, no doubt about it.  I wouldn't include it in most of my clients' marketing plans, however.  There just wasn't any value in it.  (It never was an advertising-appropriate "medium".)

So back to my initial point.  Injecting marketing efforts into social media has been tried before.  It's called telemarketing.  Think about that for a moment before tearing off on a tangent about how the technology/milieu/etc. is vastly different -- it's not.  The experience is identical: people conversing with friends and family about things they're interested in during their leisure time.  Sometimes you use the phone for work, or to buy something, but no one interrupts you mid-call with a marketing message, ever, as it would not be appropriate (or accepted).

Google is nothing but the online equivalent to the Yellow Pages -- an entirely advertising-appropriate medium.  As more and more people disconnect their land lines, Google has also become the de facto replacement of the White Pages (and Google Profiles are about to become the universal, life-long, personal cyber-address for many of us), a now-dead medium that was always, as a free service, advertising-appropriate, although the business model had not been set up that way (a free directory produced and distributed by the obscenely profitable phone company monopolies to encourage us to find more people to call).  

Is Facebook, which is nothing more than a fun way to keep in touch/communicate with friends, an advertising-appropriate medium?  Absolutely!  An up-to-the-minute, user-friendly, multi-media service to connect with people we like, offered up at no charge to users.  Just like TV, radio and print ads, we can ignore the sidebar ads if we wish.  Are sponsored games, widgets and app-gadgets designed to aid, entertain or enlighten, advertising-appropriate? Why not?  They provide value to us at no charge.  

Banner ads in blogs aren't entirely inappropriate (especially once people realize that marketing's 'Holy Grail', addressable-advertising, arrived once smartphones were in the hands of teens, but no one has had the foresight to switch on the "Holy Grail"), and Twitter is a GREAT place to advertise 'Now on Sale' and new launches (once you get used to the concept of what a 140 character limit does to your messaging and the requirement that tweets had better lead to value for readers).  Look at what Dell and Starbucks have accomplished with Twitter, which is just an instant, global, public, user-generated news service (eventually the novelty will wear off and people will stop tweeting about 'what they're doing at the moment' if it's of no real value to anyone).  Skype is a hugely advertising-appropriate medium, IF they can figure out how to make the switch from almost 100% free, to watching a short video ad before your call goes through (that pesky addressable-advertising thing will fix this problem).

What we are dealing with when it comes to the latest new "social" label everyone is scrambling to 'get on board' with, is not just a semantic issue, it's also a strategic and moral issue.  ANY media labeled 'social' is just that, a means of communication between human beings through which we converse about what we like, or don't; what we're interested in, or are not.  Marketers cannot inject their messages into those conversations without hurting their brands in the long run.  Look at telemarketing.  Look at 'bloggers-for-hire'.  You ruin credibility and brand equity by attempting to sway people either when they aren't open to your message, or they're expecting honesty and get subterfuge.  

This is the reason that so-called "Word of Mouth" and/or "Buzz" marketing is just a load of hooey, a cute moniker that doesn't really communicate what these firms are up to.  What those agencies are doing is most often subterfuge (attractive 'brand ambassadors', unidentified as such, sideling up to you in a bar to demonstrate their new smartphone or buy you a 'free drink' made with X vodka) under the guise of "guerilla marketing".  When they do it appropriately, it is simply experiential marketing -- offering a memorable, on-brand-message experience that people will go off and talk about...  

How do consumers communicate about those brand experiences?  Via social media.  

As I've said before, social media are EXTREMELY important to any brand's communication plans, but they aren't advertising-appropriate, per se.
Social media are vital to monitoring and measuring brand health, to evaluating marketing efforts, to customer relationship management (CRM) and even HR management, but at the end of the day social media are public relations-appropriate, not advertising-appropriate.  What every single one of the self-proclaimed social marketing pundits are actually advocating (see "The Ten Commandments of Social Marketing" or "What the F**K is Social Media") is NOT marketing, it's all PR:  listen to your consumers, engage them in a timely fashion, ensure your brand message is being communicated appropriately through every communication channel, leverage appropriate opportunities to talk-up your brand, etc.

A social media strategy is essential to any brand hoping to succeed in today's evolving marketing landscape, but there's a vast difference between PR activities and marketing activities.  Yes, less money is spent on PR than marketing, but let's call it what it is.  The scientifically irrelevant 'study' currently being bandied about by the 'social marketing' cheerleaders (New Study Finds Correlation Between Social Media and Financial Success) proves nothing more than the brands that are doing well these days on both market share and margin also are the most forward-thinking and active with smart PR activities that are working in concert with true marketing activities to build brand equity.  Let's not conveniently find proof for investing in 'social media' where it suits us.

Where's the real value, folks?  In the case of social media, the value is in listening, learning and engaging, not in trying to find manipulative ways to inject brand messages into the conversations.  

Lastly, I have a problem with the notion that any agency/consultant can be a 'Social Media/Marketing' specialist, any more than they can be 'Word of Mouth' specialists.  What they are claiming is that they're experts at getting people to talk about products.  Really?  Does it mean that every agency that's ever produced a Superbowl ad that incited discussion around the water cooler is ALSO a "Social/WOM" specialist?  

What they're talking about is marketing at its most fundamental: people talking positively about a product, then going out and buying it.  I have a better name for these specialists: 'sales-increasers'.  Doesn't have quite the same seductive, mysterious 'emerging media' cache, does it?

Al Ries on AdAge Thinks Line Extensions Kill Brands -- I Beg to Differ!

Comment to Al Ries's latest column in AdAge, link: Slowly But Surely, Line Extensions Will Take Your Brand Off Course

Hm. Al, I usually agree with you wholeheartedly as you look for underlying strategic issues that have an enormous impact upon the short-term and shallow POV most people focus upon, and your focus here is consistent -- long-term and strategic -- but I'm not sure you can use the beer biz (one of my areas of focus back in the late '80's) as confidently as you have here. Which does not negate your point, but it does call into question all the myriad of other factors that influenced this category and most others.

I tend to agree that never-ending line extensions (Miller's an ideal example) and co-branding (Febreeze/Tide/Downy) are likely to water-down a brand's image and SOM in a hockey-stick-like manner, but when you factor in the impact of a shift toward lower alcohol products for societal reasons related to drunk-driving and obesity, plus the steady growth in popularity of wine AND the surge in micro-brewery products and flavored beers due, in part, to increasingly sophisticated, worldly palates, your examples start to fall apart.

What you have not pointed to, most glaringly, was not different flavors for any of the big beer brands, but divergent brand characters. I suspect this was the single, most suicidal factor in each brands' weakening market position. How is it possible to have a 'cowboy' brand (like Coors) alongside a feminine light product (like Coors Light)? Or a down-to-earth, solid brand like Bud/Miller next to a funny, irreverent brand like Bud/Miller Lite? These were the first HUGE examples of demographic (beer's all consumed by males and the majority of men appreciated both manliness AND humor) versus psychographic errors in positioning that any major marketer made (new Coke being another painfully apparent example of the era).

What the beer giants learned was that light products welcomed females into the beer drinking world, and that the hard-core macho male beer drinker was never going to be able to reconcile the notion that "HIS" brand had a 'lighter' sister -- trying to 'marry' those two divergent natures under one brand umbrella proved to be long-term suicide, as any marketing professor, asked for an opinion up-front, would tell you.

I'd agree with Jeff that if a line extension stays within the brand's character (and targets the exact same core psychographic profile) and product segment, it can help to build share, not erode it. The factor no one is examining today, because we are still trapped in the glorious 'global brand' days of long ago, is the fact that now brands might have become transitory at worst, or niche at best. What I mean is that with the fragmentation and 'customization' we're seeing globally due to internet-based communication, many, many branded products (at least new ones) might have limited lifespans, or their manufacturers may have to accept that they are never going to become global, generic household names like Kleenex, let alone ever get into having 28 flavors.

Now THAT would be a big change!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Invent Business Models, Not Brands!

Wow! VERY big picture view of what leading CMOs need to be doing to succeed in the world of "Marketing 3.0" from Robert Walcott: CMOs Must Invent New Businesses, Not New Brands

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Local News Suppliers Need to Make Their Content Mobile-Accessible

Comment on MediaBizBloggers (Jack Meyer Report blog) re: Steve Rosenbaum's insight into where local news/info is going to shift in terms of targeting as smartphone heat up the LBS channel. Read his piece here: Mobile is the New Local

This really is a simple, but industry-changing insight, Steve. Thanks!

It is not just about the 'third screen' (or what's swiftly becoming our primary screen), nor is it about local search (LBS), it's about the fact that what has become largely IRRELEVANT to most of us near home (local newspapers and their content) is of ENORMOUS value/interest to mobile-carrying visitors. That's a target shift no one is really thinking about, per se, outside of LBS providers (and I suspect even the latter are really thinking about it more as a local service for people who are in their home towns).

This suggests a MAJOR shift in strategy for all those local newspapers and cable stations, thinking about what they gather and provide in a drastically new way, not for the neighbors (and not necessarily printed), but for transient visitors passing through and supplied via mobile internet access, that's a very big shift in focus. London's weekly 'Time Out' guide (now in many major cities worldwide) are way out in front in the way that they serve up information/news, and Toronto's NOW weekly was also switched on to the tourist target early on -- but I haven't yet seen these (or any other) local content providers really jumping on this opportunity yet, however your insight shows them the way!

What does this simple insight suggest about how all marketers should be thinking about how smartphones are used? They are NOT simply a new way to "push" TV ads into consumers' brains, the local, and global, content people are now accessing is seamlessly overlaid. The marketing messages they're willing to assimilate are ever-more blended into their news and personal communication. The mobile platform is unlike both the TV screen AND the computer screen as it is becoming the ONLY screen young people use, or need (and to bang an old insight drum of mine, once Bluetooth video projection glasses become ubiquitous, the size of the screen becomes virtually IMAX in dimension -- buy MyVU/EZVision stock now!).

This is changing the fundamentals of how marketing is done. We already know 'push' is gone, and the GRP (repeated :30) along with it. Where we're going now is a brave new world, a direction that John Gerzema and Ed Lebar in Booz & Co's Strategy+Business article titled "The Trouble with Brands" call 'brand energy'. It's about figuring out how to walk away from the old 'brand equity' metrics of trust, awareness, regard and esteem and look at 'energy differentiation'. My latest label: "brand experience", is likely also too narrow -- perhaps we should be calling it 'brand energization' or, to be more forward-thinking, walk away from the notion of 'BRANDS' and 'BRANDING' altogether and talk about simply 'energizing products' in such a fundamentally compelling way that people become attached to them (yes, just another way of saying the product has achieved 'brand' status).

What is also part of this new revolution in how we think about marketing, however, is the notion of long-term brand loyalty. It is possible that we need to start thinking about brands as sometimes disposable fads, like Pet Rocks or Crocs: milk them for as long as you can, then let them fade and start new ones! Sure, David Ogilvy and every BM at P&G are rolling over in their graves (or cubicles), but we can't keep injecting new flavours, packages and line extensions into the marketplace forever without something snapping!

Anyway, just a thought.


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