Tag Archives: digital marketing

The Value Of Content

If someone asked you to work for free would you do it? I would not. But many publishers do this all the time. They allow their content to be served to people who use ad-blockers. Most publishers would say that about 20% of traffic comes from devices with ad-blockers. I don’t understand why sites would serve content to people who block ads. It’s like working for free.

Today the Financial Times launched an interesting defense on ad-blockers. Rather than serve up content with no chance of selling the ad impressions the digital newspaper is testing hiding a percentage of the words in its story to point out how advertising revenue funds the content.

The New York Times is being more direct by insisting that people whitelist their site from the ad-blocker to receive content. This is a big step in the right direction for media content providers. Content costs money. Good content costs more than bad content. Advertising is a necessary aspect of most publishers’ sites because very few people will pay for content with cash. Why should a business give its product away just because a device has an ad-blocker on it?

These steps by FT and the NYT reminds people that quality content can only be provided if there is a revenue exchange. Publishers need to stand firm on blocking content to those who do not want to pay for it. Visitors either need to pay cash or pay attention. The ad-blocking phenomenon will only end if content providers don’t enable them. Don’t work for free.

Read more in this article from Ad Age.

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The Dark Side of Programmatic Buying

Programmatic digital can be dicey when it comes to getting what you paid for and you should be concerned about fraud, bots, safety, and viewability issues that result in bad outcomes.

A few months ago a prospective client asked me to evaluate a small programmatic buy her agency had executed for her with one DSP. The agency thought the buy was great, given that they drove a CTR of .48%, higher than most campaigns with a CPM of $1.40. On the surface I would agree.

That is, until I looked at the source of clicks report. This was a small enough campaign, just under 10,000 clicks, that a simple scan of the source of the clicks made me question the real value of the campaign. Many of the URL’s were from out of the US (Belgium, Brazil, Malaysia to name a few) but his was supposed to be a US campaign. Many were from sites that I could not load if I tried. Many seemed to be legitimate sites, but the visits were very low quality and very brief. The average session time for clicks from this DSP was 1/3rd to 1/4th the next lowest referrer. Average page views were even lower.

I sent the source of clicks list to a third party fraud and safety expert for their opinion. About 50% of the clicks were “High Risk” for fraud and another 5% were “Suspect”.

So if this is true, the client’s CPC for real clicks just doubled, at a minimum. Since I knew which DSP was used I asked them for their opinion on the third party auditor’s findings. I was shocked at the response from the DSP salesperson; we take brand safety very seriously and we’re more than happy to deliver on any parameters mandated.  Normally, during campaign negotiations we need to know in advance if a campaign is being measured by a third party and we’ll set up with daily reporting so that we can optimize out of those placements, sites, creative, and or content driving fraud.” 

Let me translate this for you. He said that if they knew we were going to look at a third party safety audit that they would not have delivered those impressions. Want to know what was worse? The CEO of the DSP echoed the same sentiments when I raised the issue up the line.

Fraud and bot clicks are going to happen. Clients and their partners who focus exclusively on getting the lowest CPM or CPC will find that they are actually paying more than they think for real inventory. Use a third party verification service for your campaigns, even if it is just to keep the people you’re giving money to honest.

For more info go to http://www.ocdmedia.com

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The Television Data Shift

Today NBCU announced that it is going to be using data other than Nielsen to help marketers better identify audience value of their networks and programs. Linda Yaccarino, the head of sales for NBCU, thinks it puts TV on an even playing field with digital media’s data driven targeting, but in reality it does not.

Using data other than Nielsen ratings to decide which TV programming to buy ads in should be more commonplace today than it is. I’m glad that NBCU has made this step and hope others follow their lead, but to suggest that now TV is on equal footing with digital is a misstatement. Why? Because I cannot tell NBCU that I ONLY want my TV ad shown to those in their audience who exhibit the behavior I value. I still need to buy a TV ad in an entire program.

Don’t get me wrong, I think NBCU is taking a big stride in improving the way marketers make decisions on which TV shows to buy but any media planner worth their salt was already using other metrics and data streams. In truth, NBCU hasn’t even caught up with what can be done on TV with this move.

If a marketer wants to use addressable video ads delivered via TV there are already methods of doing that. Rather than place a buy with NBCU I would go directly to the cable provider. Remember, for many product categories the household is the buying unit, especially FMCG. Knowing which household is buying which laundry detergent is the most important consideration for Tide. The cable provider can tell me which households had a set that my ad (and my competitor’s ad) aired on based on set top box data. Many retailers can tell me which households bought which brand based on loyalty card data. A simple list match can reveal enough households to see whether advertising has any impact on sales, but more importantly new penetration.

The cable provider can execute addressable TV. I can “serve” different TV ads into different households based on their buying behaviors. Does Tide have an advantage they want to use to steal customers from Wisk? Is there a different benefit or incentive they want to use to lure away Cheer buyers? We can do that.

Thanks NBCU, but no thanks.

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Is Your Marketing Integrated Or Quarantined?

Isaac Asimov once said “The true genius of any plan lies as much in the execution as it does in the concept. “ The same can be said of Integrated Marketing. An Integrated Marketing program built solely on execution—meaning, simplistically, a multi-platform media buy for cost efficiencies sake—will save you money, but won’t accomplish much in business growth. Nor will a great idea not executed properly, not achieving significant scale and not motivating people to a specific action.

So, if Integrated Marketing is so important why don’t we see it every day? It seems that somewhere somehow we lost our way as an industry. Let’s take a step back in time to see when that happened and how we got to the state we are currently in. Marketing in the days before mass media was simple. Most businesses were local and there were few national brands. So a product got a strong following and word-of-mouth with an occasional newspaper ad worked. But after World War II mass media took over—first driven by magazines and radio. But barely a decade later, TV became affordable to a large segment of the population–and mass brands grew simultaneously in a symbiotic way. One could not have happened without the other. TV and Magazines helped introduce brands to new consumers and the advertising revenue generated by these brands funded the content that increased the appeal of mass media. And because there were fewer options the mass media flourished.

Advertising became the focus of most brand’s marketing budgets and TV became the favored medium. The advertising industry came up with a model of how to evaluate advertising—the famous six stage ARF Model—Vehicle Distribution, Vehicle Exposure, Advertising Exposure, Advertising Perception, Advertising Communication and Sales Response. We developed an advertising impression metric to plan, buy and track how we were doing. Advertising agencies restructured around this principle and created media planning and media buying disciplines whose goal was to aggregate audiences.

Since the 1980’s a lot has changed in media availability. Most homes have multiple TV’s, and access to more than 100 channels and the share of viewing has fragmented greatly. That’s just TV. Magazines, radio, newspapers had the same fragmentation and increased availability of options. Today, with internet/mobile access rivaling TV ownership, the world is different. The age-old ARF model doesn’t apply anymore because with digital media we can do so much more than we ever could before. We can customize messaging and create individualized communication pathways to drive purchases. Digital is not an advertising medium, per se. It is a marketing channel.

The sad truth is that today that ARF model still drives the advertising industry. Media is still planned and purchased at most agencies on an impression/GRP basis. We value ourselves as buyers on how well we do on a cost per thousand impressions basis. Media Researchers at most agencies are more concerned about methodology of tracking audiences than on developing tools and techniques to measure what really is important—product sales. We used to play a joke on new employees. On their first day we would show them a media plan and tell them it didn’t have enough W18-49 GRP’s. We’d then send them down to the supply room with a requisition form for a box of GRP’s. Well, the joke, it turns out, is on us for focusing for too long on a surrogate metric for evaluating ourselves. We are still trying to aggregate audiences. But it’s not just an agency problem. The entire marketing process is over-siloed. When marketers have a creative agency, a media agency, a PR firm, a promotional agency and a digital marketing partner engaged on the brand, often times from multiple holding companies, the challenge becomes one of bringing disparate voices into harmony. Getting everyone singing the same tune, and not seeking a solo performance that highlights their voice, their contribution in absence of everyone else. This is a base instinct we have in these situations, proving our worth and our value in a team environment.

Besides the inherent human desire to prove our individual worth is how we as agencies and media salespeople divide functional disciplines—TV sellers call on TV buyers who are responsible for delivering TV value, print sellers call on print buyers who are charged with delivering print value and the digital sellers call on digital buyers who have to deliver digital media value.

So in a world of silo-ed, or worse—quarantined, marketing partners how can one deliver both an idea and an execution? By chance? I doubt it. Sheer magnitude of media buying clout? Probably not. A great idea without the scale to impact the bottom line? Highly unlikely. Someone develops an idea and champions it, with contagious excitement and relentless single-minded focus on executing that idea with the potential consumer at the center of everything.

We are at a critical point in the media landscape. Old line media companies are struggling. Magazines titles are getting shut down. Newspapers are merging or getting shut down. Consolidation is happening all around us. But the news is not all bad. Magazine companies are becoming media companies and media companies are becoming marketing companies. The threat for agencies is the biggest one. If ad agencies do not reinvent themselves as marketing agencies then they will be disintermediated, dismissed from the process entirely. Historically the ad agency has been the lead partner to a marketer. In a world of long-tail marketing there is no “One” message for the masses. There are millions of messages each one speaking to an individual’s motivations.

So, here’s my clarion call to us as an industry. Here’s the three things we each need to do to re-focus our efforts on Integrated Marketing.

1. Stop thinking of marketing as a cost proposition and approach it as an investment. Stop the constant priority of evaluating your marketing efforts on cost alone. Sometimes good ideas cost more than bad ones. You should think about results and a return on investment. You should want talented and creative people working to build your business.
2. Engage all your marketing partners together frequently. Let them get to know each other. Make them work together. Encourage them to dialog and debate ideas without you as an intermediary. Make them collaborate and let them know that it’s “all for one and one for all”.
3. Make us accountable. Hold our feet to the fire. Make sure we deliver on our combined promise.

Media Companies:
1. Stop thinking of yourself as a media vendor and an advertising placement property. So many of you have such rich content and strong relationships with consumers. Use it to your advantage. You are a marketing communications company.
2. Engage your marketing people in bigger ways than ‘added value’ programs that don’t add up to much. Put your marketing people, who know your customers better than you think, in front of the marketers and agencies. Number
3. Partner with like-minded properties inside your own company and outside as well. Find a partner that can enhance your offering and make you both a larger scale player than you can be alone. If you’re a special interest magazine company with marginal web assets find a cable TV network that you can partner with whether it’s an ad-hoc relationship or a longer-term strategic alliance. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain?

Media Agencies:
1. Think like marketing agencies, not media buyers. We are uniquely situated to help collaborate, build and evaluate, but only if we allow ourselves. We need to re-insert ourselves at the highest levels and not be a vendor.
2. Don’t just keep buying more boxes of GRP’s. If we want to be treated as a marketing partner we need to behave like one. We need new metrics to prove what works. Get your research department to stop focusing on audience metrics and have them develop marketing metrics.
3. Treat the media companies as partners, they are not your enemy. If you want them to bring good ideas to you then treat them fairly and with respect. Listen to them and let them bring you ideas. Don’t make them fill out 100 page RFP’s asking them to answer questions that you won’t even evaluate.

Our collective business, the business of marketing brands, is built on our people, because that’s all we have. Our people and their ideas. If our people are willing to contribute to the greater good, then we all win. If someone champions an idea, is relentless in their pursuit of engaging their partners, and accepts nothing less than a team approach then there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

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