Archive for November, 2008

elfLast year over 25 million Americans Elved themselves. Heck, even the anchors from Good Morning America Elved themselves on the air – talk about a “viral success”.

Did you Elf yourself? Do you remember what brand provided the cool elfinator?

Chances are the answer is “nope”. Better yet, when I conduct public seminars and ask that question, sometimes I get the exact opposite answer that the brand behind it, OfficeMax, would want – Staples. At least they got the category right – but only because they are marketing folks who have read about the campaign at some point or another. I have yet to meet one average consumer who elved themselves and remembers the brand. In an era when over-emphasizing your brand in an experiential execution like this can be looked at as cheesey and shunned by the average consumer, what is the ramification of under-emphasizing your brand? Impact thus equals zero?  Maybe, maybe not. This story continues…

Enter year three of Elf Yourself. Consumer behavior has been established, value proposition has been confirmed, logo inserted more prominently – let’s see if this year Elf Yourself can create an impact for OfficeMax. Will consumers Elf themselves in droves again this year? How will correlation of engagement be measured by OfficeMax? While normally the million dollar question would be – does it sell more office supplies? This year you can embed your dancing elf (ie: Elf Yourself 2.0), which requires registration – a portion of which are opting in for ongoing email communication from OfficeMax, you can buy customized coffee mugs, greeting cards, ornaments, mousepads, playing cards, or prints, and for $3.99 you can buy a DVD of your customized dancing elf. So there are a multitude of measurable elements here, including brand attribution that can be measured attitudinally. I look forward to inevitably hearing about the campaign performance after the holidays.

Kudos to Jib Jab, the producers of Elf Yourself, who provide a plethora of “insert your face here” and other executions for every holiday and even major current events. I also ask myself – isn’t there equal or maybe even more value being created for them?



agBelieve None of What You Hear & Half of What You See…

I don’t want to come off as negative or a holier-than-thou jerk, because I’m neither of those things – but seriously folks, some of the press releases that come out are just filled with hype, even when there is an interesting story behind them.

Case in point is today’s release about how Platform-A sold it’s first billion impression deal (to T-Mobile for the G-1), and they dubbed it the “T-Mobile Billion Block campaign”. 

First of all – there’s nothing special about a billion impressions. DR advertisers run billions of impressions regularly.

What is stated but not emphasized in the releases (or at least not emphasized in the articles as translated by the media) is that the campaign is an attempt at accumulating AUDIENCE “mass-media style”, not impressions. Basically a huge slice of the internet population (potentially over 81 million people) may be exposed to the T-Mobile G1 ads in only 2-days. That is a big deal. That also speaks to an average FREQUENCY of 10+. The missing components here are targeting (is there any?) and cost (you may never hear about cost unless you are attempting to execute a similar deal).

Regardless – this is an approach that is not unique, but the scale is indeed impressive – 81million people in two days. Let’s see how it works!

This video was bubbling around the web a bit recently, although apparently it all stems back to a research presentation compiled originally by Karl Fisch, the Director of Technology for Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. It has since been remixed, enhanced, redesigned and used for many purposes including a recent Sony BMG executive meeting in Rome. It is an amazingly well put together state of global technology, media and education, and I thank Karl for providing me with the version I was looking for!

Karl and his staff received two grants in 2005 to improve teacher and student use of technology to achieve curricular goals, to help transform their school to a more student-centered, constructivist approach, and to prepare the students to succeed in the 21st century. While technology was certainly a big part of this proposal in terms of dollars, the heart of our proposal was staff development. You can learn more about this impressive bunch on their main blog, appropriately named the Fischbowl.

oanToday was Media Post’s first iteration of a conference specifically focused on the topic of ad networks. (OMMA Ad Nets) I moderated a panel entitled “”Buyers Place Their Bets: Are Networks Living Up to Their Hype?” (details on the panel at the end of this post).

You know, sometimes one can get caught up in the sizzle of social media and mobile and all the great new media channels to reach and engage consumers, and lose sight of the steak of the mainstream digital media world. Today was one of those days that reminded me about that, and the several billion dollars generated by ad networks each year. Ad networks were once a mundane source of cheap remnant inventory at scale, but have seriously evolved. Vertical ad networks are aggregating audience contextually, while horizontal ad networks have become purveyors of sophisticated technology, algorithms and data, which helps agencies and marketers reach specific audiences  based on a myriad of criteria. We see the application of data and technology to media and audiences evolving constantly. Some prime examples – AOL’s purchase of Tacoda in 2007 helped to create the largest network on the internet, Platform A, and more recently Akamai’s recent acquisition of Acerno to “…benefit the ecosystem of ad networks, online publishers and Internet advertisers by providing them with real-time, actionable data to serve more relevant marketing messages”, as stated by Mike Afergan, Akamai’s chief technology officer and SVP of Advertising Decision Solutions.

As a digital media-ologist, if you will, one theme stood out the most today at OMMA Ad Nets…

The large scale media agencies will eventually all have their own ad hoc networks: Data and technology are not only intrinsic to the network model, but competition is pushing the envelope. Soon we will see some of the data ownership shift to the agencies. There is tremendous power and efficiency when you control the data. Apparently, Havas Digital claims to have profiled 1/3 of the internet population and now issues “open insertion orders” for multiple clients at once. Their controlled data points dictate which client’s ads to serve against any given impression.

Don Epperson from Havas Digital was very upfront about it – in fact his keynote focused on Havas’ adNetic product that they developed to control the data and develop ad hoc networks, while other agencies were not as willing to share their strategies and direction in the regard. But make no mistake about it – the big agencies are stepping up. Scale is always a point of discussion when it comes to ad networks, behavioral targeting and generally applications of online advertising technology. Well, if it’s scale you want, look no further than the big media agencies.


Buyers Place Their Bets: Are Networks Living Up to Their Hype?
After hearing the horizontal and vertical nets debate their case, our panel of media buyers enters the fray. Do they buy the arguments from the vertical networks that they curate and cultivate specialized content so advertisers get better and broader reach for niche audiences? Is this vertical inventory really more valuable to a buyer than the targeted remnants from a horizontal channel? Which of these models is aggregating the mid and long tail most effectively? Vertical networks help smaller and independent publishers get better CPMs. They are designed to capture what they hope are more engaged and receptive audiences for advertisers. Are they living up to their own hype? Is this argument over content quality important to buyers, or are most of them still just buying any kind of lightly targeted eyeballs? Our panel of media buyers and marketers explore whether the many offerings represent a fad or a model and whether more value really is being injected into the marketplace.
Moderator: Jason Heller, EVP, The Laredo Group
Lauren Boyer, Partner and Chief Global Strategist, Underscore Marketing
Russell Fradin, President, Adify
Shane Kay, VP, Digital Negotiations Director, Ford Motor Media
Joanna O’Connell, Razorfish NYC
Nate Woodman, SVP Strategic Development, Havas Digital

Blogged live by Joe Mandese