Archive for Media

Simplifying Online Marketing

If you’re like me and spend most of your time and money developing marketing campaigns centred around TV advertising, you’ve probably been trying to make sense of the whole Internet / Online Marketing thing.

Josh Bernoff’s excellent graphic on consumer trust got me thinking about how online marketing is similar to TV advertising and other traditional marketing channels, and equally important, how it’s not.

1. TV advertising is one-way communication. The Internet is interactive, so a common fallacy is that it’s two-way. Actually it’s more likely to be either one-way (Audience gets your message, does nothing), occasionally two-way (Audience tells you what she thinks) and sometimes many-way (Audience tells others what she thinks about your product / message). Now the last one may be through a blog or a social network website, and these are quite the trendy buzzwords among PR firms these days, but Josh’s chart above together with HP Lab’s paper on social networks shows that the valuable part of people’s networks is (a) smaller than it appears and (b) mostly to do with e-mail. Consider: would you have more faith in something that a friend actively e-mailed to you or something that a stranger wrote on his blog, no matter how well-written or entertaining. So the task is to develop communication or content that people can share with their friends and perhaps modify or personalize, ideally via e-mail.

2. There are hundreds of channels and thousands (millions?) of programs on TV and we use data (ratings) about what consumers are watching to decide where to place our spots to achieve our GRP/TRP goal of reaching x% of our target audience with a certain frequency (usually a single digit number). The same approach should work online. With a little bit of research, we can find out (a) what the most popular search engine is in a given market (hint: it’s not always Google) and (b) what keywords our audience uses when they are searching for information on our product category. I imagine that someone who plans to buy a camcorder in an English-speaking market would probably google “Camcorder reviews”. (I did.)  This behaviour coupled with the right information actually makes it easier to develop highly effective online “media plans”, quite probably at a very low cost (yet) and at a very high frequency.

3. The data in the chart above suggests that online customer reviews are the most effective form of PR. Using the Google keyword approach above should help identify the websites where our audience most often finds these reviews. (I went to The chart makes it clear that getting honest favourable reviews onto these websites is far more effective than giving free samples to a large number of bloggers. Beware of unethical competitors who may be using “professional reviewers” to considerable effect. Don’t discount the value of traditional PR in print newspapers and magazines which still rank very highly on consumer trust. Even TV is trusted more than personal blogs, although it’s not clear if this refers to advertising (unlikely) or TV news and talk shows (more likely).

4. Yellow pages (not online) is a bit of a surprise in this chart. Depending on the context, a careful review of what the audience does on a typical day and where they look for information on our category or when they are most receptive to that information might reveal some unexpected channels or touchpoints – very likely in the real (not online) world. Like the hunt for a great advertising insight, this is one of the things that makes marketeer’s jobs interesting!

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New Sony Walkman Ad Campaign: Is the Medium really the Message?

Chip Heath, professor of organizational behavior in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, took issue with Marshall McLuhan in a recent interview with McQ:

In truth, the message is the message. People who think too much about the medium—opt-in newsletters, the Internet, Web 2.0—are making the same mistake that people have made for years in education. Remember how the 8-millimeter film was going to revolutionize education? Then the VCR? Then the personal computer? The medium can certainly help, but an 8-millimeter film didn’t salvage a bad math lesson.

Case in point, the new advertising campaign for the Sony Walkman is claimed to be the first ‘monophonic ad’, created by deconstructing an original musical work into individual notes, then recruiting 128 musicians and giving them each just one note to play, thereby re-constructing the original melody, in spectacular waves of sound and movement.

Advertising that entertains, delivers the message and gets talked about – it can’t get any better than this.

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Advertising: Media innovations roundup (Part 2)

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Advertising: Media innovations roundup (Part 1)

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The future of brand communication & advertising

Lord Leverhulme supposedly said, "I know half my advertising is wasted. I just don't know which half."

A recent paper titled "The Future of Advertising is Now" by Christopher Vollmer et al attempts to solve his lordship's dilemma, at least for the automobile industry. Clearly, Lord Leverhulme's assessment remains remarkably accurate, as this chart from the paper shows.

What's even more interesting is the huge impact that the Internet plays in consumer's purchase decisions. It seems that marketeers at the car companies don't understand this just yet.

We decided to buy a video camera a month ago. When we bought a digital camera a couple of years back, we went to a store, looked at all the options, talked to a friend who is a bit of an expert on photography and another friend who is an expert on gadgets, decided which features were most important to us, went back to the store, shortlisted two models, went to a few more stores, compared prices, chose the store with the lowest prices and then finally decided which camera to buy.

This time it was quite different. We did talk to our friends, but most of our research was on the Internet. We found a couple of sites with expert reviews on video cameras as well as actual user post-purchase feedback and decided which brand and model to buy based entirely on this research. We determined the lowest price by looking it up on eBay. We didn't even go to a store – the video camera was delivered to our home by the dealer.

The key factor in both purchases was the experience of actual users. The Internet enabled us to find people who had used the latest models. Therefore we were able to make a very well-informed choice. The role of advertising? A priori, none! Even in-store advertising didn't count in the second case. In reality, the brands we considered – JVC, Sony, Panasonic, Nikon, Canon – have been advertising their technical expertise and quality for years. The advertising ensured that we considered their offerings. But that's it.

You can now find user opinions on everything from beach sandals to golf clubs on the Internet. Even mundane everyday products like soap are written about online by passionate users.

What are the implications for marketeers? I can think of a few:
1. Old-school mass communication will have less and less of an impact on purchase decisions. (Nothing new there, but it's still true.)
2. People are looking for the most credible source of information. The higher the involvement, the greater the investment in research. Figuring out how to engage with this research, to be aware of what actual users and influencers are saying about your brand or product is going to be critical, not in the future, but right now.

3. The Internet is a technical library where people can figure out how things really work, how much they really cost, how good they really are and where to get the lowest price. It is a democratic community where everyone can have their say and probably will. It is an entertainment & leisure medium where highly focused targeting is possible. It is a boundaryless, global network where national boundaries don't count.

Let me know if you can think of any more implications. Also, which firms really get this already? Do share any good examples that you can think of.

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Over-effective Media Plans?

Modern advertising should and does entertain. Some of the best advertisements are entertaining enough to make us want to watch them several times. But what if an ad is only moderately entertaining but is shown again and again? An instant coffee brand has a media plan which ensures that I see their ad at least 4 times every evening in the course of my usual TV viewing. It seems like it’s on all of my favourite channels at the same time! It’s OK to watch the first few times, but after that one gets quite sick of it!

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