Posts filed under ‘effectiveness’

Wheel of Marketing Misfortune

I loved this article by David Armano and his Wheel of Marketing Misfortune. It’s a fresh way to exhort everyone in the digital marketing business to just, you know, chill out a bit.

Read the whole thing here.

July 9, 2008 at 4:33 pm 1 comment

The long tail: digital myth or not?

The “long tail” has been a theory accepted as fact in the digital community. It described and explained what we believed in so well, and it all makes sense. In fact, to some of us it was a source of credibility for whatever it was we’re doing, selling, or referring to: the power of the individual, individual experiences, tailored and customized offerings in a distributed and digital world that makes all of that possible.

Now, some people are rocking the boat and saying that it was all a hoax. Not a surprise, really. Every theory has a counter-theory. Surprising is that it took this long.

http://tinyurl.com/3rg5gp

Found on Alan’s friendfeed

July 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

On PR 2.0 and killing version numbers

In our network, we also have a global PR agency. Recently,we have been working more closely with them, and it’s been a great experience that has given me insights about a totally different way to work on brands. In this collaboration, I’ve come to notice the changes that are going on in the PR world too. Obviously, the fact that everything has changed for traditional marketing communication because people have been empowered by digital technologies has also arrived in the PR world. In fact, the say they knew it before the old traditional agencies even started thinking about changing their ways.

And some of that is true. If we look at Al Ries’ book “The fall of advertising, the rise of PR” which was authored around 2000, we can see that the trend was there for many to see. And it is true, that in the type of brand work PR agencies do, they have always focused on the more immediate human opinion and context in which they can positively influence brand opinion. But the thing is: it’s not that PR agencies were rising by because their work got better, or their approach drastically different. Isn’t it more likely that traditional agencies, which were the main mass media opinion shapers for brands started sucking? Or to be fair: ad agencies were conveniently repressing the fact that mass media started bleeding its effectiveness to digital channels and 1:1 and social media interactions.

What will be interesting for me to observe is: will PR agencies make some of the mistakes that ad agencies made? Like: “Hey, here’s an idea, we’ll just start an interactive agency that can adapt our stuff online,” or will they be less prone to the “channel-adaptation” mistake? I think they might. Why? Well, since the PR guy’s job is to influence opinion of people in a way that is different to regular mass media communication (the staple of the ad agency), it has always been about word-of-mouth, even before the web. Think about it: if, on one side, you have an expert of influencer opinion and how to use it to influence others, and, on the other side, an expert on creating single-minded propositions for mass media: who has an advantage in a landscape where single-minded messages are being fragmented, spoofed, barely measureable, and generally ineffective and where everyone can have an opinion, influence product design, brands and author about everything on a free blog? Yes, it’s definitely the PR guy, not the ad guy. So this is where they have the leg up, but I think they’ve had this advantage rather unconsciously. Now that the web is mainstream, even traditional PR (even if it was more modern than the traditional ad business by design), has to think about PR 2.0 just like advertising has to think about advertising 2.0. And they do, and they might want to break some of the negative PR stereotypes as they go along.

Okay, you say, but digital agencies obviously knew before. Yes they did, and if we again look at Al Ries’ book, you will notice it doesn’t even go into any detail of the potential of how digital channels are changing peoples’ behavior. And here is my point: while some PR agencies had started working closer to the context of the people in order to influence human behavior than traditional ad agencies, most of them still did it in a traditional channel mindset. The reevaluation of what a traditional ad agency has to do, or if in fact, it is still advertising it needs to create, is also taking place consciously in the PR world now. In fact, the question is: if the word “advertising agency” is passé, is “public relations” also a bit yesteryear?

The funny thing is, as the process of redefining the ad agency and the PR agency is underway, look at the schools of thought out there on this topic:

  • Markets are conversations, not messages
  • it’s about listening not talking
  • Engage people on their level, not as abstract consumers, insulting their intelligence
  • and so on and so on…

Doesn’t that sound all too familiar? Isn’t everyone saying the same thing?

Yeah, again, nothing new to anyone who worked in a digital agency, in, say 1995. The only difference is: now everyone is talking about it and it’s mainstream, oh, and bandwidth is better. This is good, mind you, but it also let’s me beg EVERYONE who works in this industry, whether they are in ad agencies, PR agencies, media agencies, digital agencies and even marketing people: don’t we all say the same thing, no matter who said it first, or who put out the best “integrated” campaign? Can’t we just decide that communication is a people business, not a brand business and that therefore everything we do should start with people, not brands, or products or categories or marketing toolkits?

And for chrissakes, can’t we stop putting version numbers on our respective displines (advertising 2.0, web2.0, PR2.0 and media 2.0) just because we want to tell everyone that we finally got the fact that people are in control?

Acts, not ads!

PS: I will be off on a vacation, so there will be no posts for a while.. Cheers.

May 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm 2 comments

Stating the obvious: Online Social Media generate awareness, influences opinion.

Okay, sometimes I have to repeat stuff I’ve already said before, even if it is the equivalent of stating the obvious. I do this usually when I find a study with an air of scienctific credibility that supports something that is being talked about, but lacks the digits.

In this case, I stumbled upon an article in Adweek which states that a new study was release proving that some of the most desirable consumers use the opinions of others from blogs, and social media applications to make their purchasing decisions. In fact, 74% of people polled do this. Of course this means that the brand message and promise seems to be becoming less important than what other people say about the brand and customer experience they have had. Which in turn means, that mass media advertising is becoming less important. Thanks for the statistics, but as I said, it’s still a “duh-moment.”

Still, I like it when marketing people are quoted with something that is a Heureka moment to them. Here it is:

“This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies,” said Ganim Nora Barnes, a senior fellow at SNCR, in a statement. This demo includes adults 25-55 with a college education, making over $100,000 a year. “These most savvy and sought-after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies: listen, respond, and improve.”

Yeah. Stop making advertising to generate awareness if you cannot listen, respond and improve. Otherwise you will get grilled and served with a slice of lemon on a nice “ineffective traditional advertising sampler platter.”

April 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

People are not the problem. Marketing warfare is.

What’s been frying my goat for a while lately (like 10 years or so) is looking at how we conduct our business in the agency landscape. We use military words like Briefing, Strategy, Tactics, Campaign, Target, Territory, Launch and Positioning everyday. I am wondering what good it does using this language of war. Everyone says that marketing is war. Is it? War against what?

Let’s ask Billy Bob, a traditional, gun-toting marketer who believes marketing is war:

Billy Bob: I tell you who we’re fightin’, buddy. It’s them dang evil-doer consumers. These folks are conspirin’ against us, leadin’ a lawless digital lifestyle, creat’n’ all this brand brouhaha for us marketers, destroying our brand values and shooting web2.0 flak right down from the blogosphere and what have you. If we don’t strike them with a big nice nuclear promotion, we be fixin’ to go down with our brand reputation. So, I am asking you: are you with us or with the consumers?

Personally, Billy Bob, I believe war is not an answer. We’ve been seeing this for a long time and we’ve been turning our faces away, hoping this Internet thing would just go away. Fact is, we’ve just made it a war because we see human behavior as something we need to manipulate and change, and we made it marketing’s job to manipulate that human behavior. Also of course, it is our job to build a ridgid brand fortress, that can defend itself against its enemies, the competition. Now that digital technologies have empowered people and changed the rules of the game, it isn’t as easy to manipulate people, and advertising just doesn’t seem to work anymore. And, for lack of a better idea, what’s our response? More troops for the trenches, bigger defense budgets, more artillery.

Because the Billy Bob Marketing budget for ineffective advertising, whether in “traditional” or “digital” channels, is steadily rising, no matter how inefficient. As a result, to stay within the militaristic metaphor we seem so used to, “consumers” soon become “casualties of war.” Well, I guess, you know, such is war. I mean, we tried to use our smart micro-segmentation bombs and even put 10% of our budget into our magic digital targeted media bullet, but you’re always gonna get some collateral damage, right? After all, this is why we call those casualties consumers: this way they remain abstract and we don’t have to connect with their actual life.

Seriously, this terminology, and more importantly, the warped thinking behind it isn’t appropriate anymore, and maybe never was. So if you’re asked by Billy Bob to support the troops in advertising and marketing , it’s just not black and white anymore. All I know is: I don’t wanna support the troops and their strategic goals of “increasing brand awareness” or “building brand preference” or “driving brand consideration” if all I get is an unhuman, purposeless advertising carpet bombing campaign. This marketing warfare myth has to go. The point is, you can’t work like that anymore.

Ok, sure. Let’s say we all agree. How would we go about everything if we stripped out all this militaristic lingo and the thinking behind it?

  1. Don’t just think about positioning in “what is…”, think about “what if?”
  2. Don’t start with the category, the product or the brand. Because, guess what, you will end up where you left off.
  3. Instead, start with a purpose. A purpose, mind you, not a promise. A purpose needs a conviction, a reason for being and a fuel that amplifies it. Fuel comes from a human behavior that we want to enable.
  4. Based on this purpose, think of acts that a brand can create to enable that human behavior in positive ways, instead of just cranking out ads.
  5. Don’t think of creativity as idea generation for campaigns, think of creativity as ideas for experiences and valuable exchanges.
  6. Don’t message at people, message for something they believe in.
  7. Don’t call them consumers, call them people.

Peace out, y’all.

March 19, 2008 at 7:34 pm 3 comments

Unsure on how to make your Brand Research more effective again? Stick people into MRIs.

I recently read an article in Adage, written by Moshe Bar, Director at the NeuroCognition Lab at Harvard Medical school. As more and more people say that asking consumers to critique ads is, like, so yesterday (which I mostly agree with), Moshe comes out and puts his Ph.D. and scientific research to use for the Advertising folks. In fact, the last paragraph of said article ends:

[…] advertisers could go even further by better understanding the basic science of the human mind. Don’t you want to know how to better generate positive associations that will stick in memory? Or how context and attentions filter the perception of reality? Or the way that mood affects people’s desires? My guess is you do.

Ok. Duh. Yeah, who wouldn’t like to know? Especially when there are so many pseudo-scientific research methodologies that all promise the same. Looks like Mr. Bar isn’t just offering a new look at things to Brand Researchers, he is also pushing the right buttons for us a target audience (i.e. real science giving answers to difficult marketing questions).

So is this type of research really any different in terms of effectiveness to create compelling ads, or did Harvard’s research grant fund run dry as to have to go in cahoots with the lowly spheres of the communications industry? Is it that instead of a nice subjective and ineffective chat with your consumers around a table, you actually stick them into an MRI? That certainly is upping the ante (those things are huge and expensive after all), and I do believe it gives you answers to which emotions might be triggered. I am not a scientist, but when Mr. Bar says “If we scientists have behavioral methods that we believe could modify the associations elicited in post-traumatic stress, changing associations in a retailer’s reputations should be a walk in the park in comparison, using the exactly the same principles,” I kind of go “Mreep?”. I am not sure why, because I don’t have an MRI in our research lab, but let me try to guess.

First of all, likening post-traumatic stress to a emotional reactions to an ad seem kind of, well, like making a mousetrap the size of a house. It’s friggin ads, not memories of your tank Humvee being blown up in Iraq. While I do believe the article that, scientifically, the same principles apply in terms of being able to measure emotional triggers, even in ads, I wonder if the level of the response in those cases when you measure ads is equally as relevant as when deal with real issues like PTS. What I mean is, if you find out (as described in the article) that an ad containing sharp objects makes people nervous, and you use this insight as part of a creative brief, may we not, at some point be overdoing it? Does an ad message have to be as complicated as including deeply rooted human psychological and even phylogenetic insights? Maybe it can and maybe it is not as complicated. I just feel that continuing research on PTS is more important and different league than that of making ads. Currently brand research suffers from too many methodologies, not to little. Apart from that, there may be a bit of a problem with applicability and feasibility with this scientific approach for the purposes of brand research at this point. I am all for trying out research methodology as described in the arcticle is a good idea to gain more understanding in how we, as humans, work, and I do believe it will even have effects on how we think about communications. But for now, I know there are a number of really good and inexpensive tools (some even scientific) that allow us to observe human behavior instead of simply ineffectively asking people’s opinions. Those seem like a good way forward for now, and the kind of stuff done by researchers like Moshe Bar, as mind-bogglingly amazing it really is, operates at a more fundamental level: the kind of level that is established when scientist try to find out how we all function.

December 9, 2007 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Facebook Case Studies

An interesting slideshow from Charlene Li from Forrester. For all those who were looking for cases when convincing or keeping clients from doing something on Facebook.

November 22, 2007 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

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