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Seems like most marketers are still having a hard time understanding that consumers really don’t care about our brands. Sure, the Nike, Starbucks, and Apples of the world have iconic brands that consumers are truly fans of and are proud to flaunt their association with these types of brands. But for the average marketer, large or small, there comes a realization that although every brand has its advocates, the size of their advocate pool is much smaller than they’d like.

Enter the misguided Facebook “strategy” that is so rampant today.

Folks – Facebook, like the internet itself, is not a magical parallel universe. It won’t  make people love your brand. People just need to love your brand…or at least like it, and then you can nurture those relationships.

There is no commitment in becoming a fan of a brand on Facebook. It takes one second to click the ‘Become a Fan’ button – commitment over. Either you will or will not engage the consumer from this point. Most brands do a poor job. Particularly when most of the content  posted is about you. This week alone, I pointed out to four clients and prospects  who launched Facebook pages this year, that the posts in their Facebook pages that had the most engagement EVER were their thank you posts to veterans on veteran’s day. Why? Simple – because these were the only posts that had absolutely nothing to do with the brands. Although I’ve explained this concept several times before. This instance really opened their eyes.  A new, enlightened era is upon them. Facebook status updated: [Insert Brand Name here] saw the light.

digidaysYesterday I emceed my second set of DigiDay conferences (DigiDay Networks & DigiDay Target), where execs and thought leaders gathered from the industry’s  leading ad networks, optimization technology firms, data marketplaces, data exchanges, agencies, publishers, and even a few marketers were in the mix. Consistent with my last DigiDay experiences, it was a standing room only crowd – no really – at 8:30AM … in New York City … hard to believe but true!

Although technically two half day conferences, the interwoven theme of the day was the same – simply, the strategic and practical applications of data. (Simply? Uh huh, right…)

The discussions surrounded the modeling and packaging of specific audiences, the role of creativity in a data driven world, the value of data exchanges, analytic and yield models, data strategy, data ownership, agencies developing network services, networks developing agency services, black box technologies, and generally, the future of digital media.

Thanks to Scott Hoffman who posted the great round of quick video interviews with several of the panelists on his blog:

A quick search for the Twitter hashtag #DigiDay (42 pages of results from June 8!), will give you a quick recap of some of the hot topics and sound-bytes, here are a few highlights:

ahynes1 : #digiday Someone yell out an online advertising campaign that resonated with you. <crickets>

gregoryhills
:  Matt Greitzer of AvenueA thinks agencies will focus on building proprietary data warehouses, & not on building pipes into exchanges #digiday

ahynes1 : #digiday Frustrating part of the panels so far is that they all treat audience as eyeballs disconnected from hearts and minds.

adbroad : Steve, Media Math: Ad agencies don’t know data, supply as well as other co’s, but suppliers don’t know creative like agencies. #digiday
cliqology : Wow, 2 hours into #digiday and just one mention about Social. But hundreds of mentions about data.
LorneBrown : at #Digiday…Darren Herman “now have opportunity to build 60 creatives for 60 audiences”
admeld : RT @JasonDPG: Mismatch bteween ad ops resources applied against revenue. Need to remedy and create efficiencies in the process #digiday
digiday : Zagorski:  Data is approaching the value of media. Damn! #digiday
jasonkrebs : #digiday. Why does everyone think now that advertising should be 0% waste? What business in the world doesn’t have waste?
taddavis Brands do matter:  why market efficiencies will never completely drive cpms. #digiday
eporres: #digiday AdNetik believes that marketplace sellers should cede control of media pricing. Likened to Google Adwords. Auctions, get used to it
ckronengold : #lotame say “we’re not digital, or not out of home, but we’re Life Advertising.” #digiday

adbroad : Data is piling up faster than our ability to read and analyze it. ERgo, we’re actually becoming “stupider.” –Stephen Baker, #digiday
charlescosta : Key to targeting is to offer it as “customized services” and not call it “tracking” – focus on building trust with users #digiday
annemai : Darren Herman,  Media Kitchen: Big difference b/w “planning” targets and “buying” targets — how true! #digiday

stephcliff : smack talk at #digiday. Yahoo’s bill wise: “I’m smarter than you.” Time Inc. guy: “You work for Yahoo-how could you be?”
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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?

 

Ok, from the title of this post I assume I need to tell a few of you to get you minds out of the gutter!

Now on to my point – First TheWB.com launched a pretty much fully baked in-content video search function, now YouTube is taking the first step towards interactive video, albeit a baby step. Artist and now popular video blogger Val from Valsartdiary.com launched YouTube’s first “interactive riddle” (apparently on June 15th??? how am I and the entire industry late on this?)

Merely a chose your own ending type of execution, this is nothing new to the world of rich media, but is new and long overdue to the world of mass video distribution (13 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute). The end of the 2 minute video (embedded below for your convenience) has an engaging element that simply poses a riddle and provides three different answers (optional endings), each leading the viewer to subsequent videos. She even offers a prize (a free coloring book, or to us digital marketers, a distributable asset, which can actually be downloaded for free from her website anyway, but that’s besides the point) to those who answered correctly. Besides the interactive video aspect of this, Val does a great job of generating interest in her as a personal brand and her content, all as a conduit to sell her art. Kudos indeed.

So why am I so excited? No it’s not because Val’s cute, although of course she is, (and that always helps the numbers!) it’s because the two vital components to the future of online video advertising has both materialized by major players this month. Interactive video on YouTube (ok, technically the tip of the iceberg that will eventually lead to true interactive video), and in-content contextual search functionality by Warner Brothers. The future is getting brighter quickly.

As someone who follows the digital agency world very closely, and the former CEO of an agency that once was in talks with Avenue A about an acquisition – my hats (because I wear multiple of course) go off to the agency for becoming the recipe of legend. After arguably becoming the most powerful stand alone digital media agency, developing what is now the second largest ad server in the industry, building a behavioral targeting network, creating a holding company (aQuantive) , and acquiring Razorfish (and a few smaller shops that everyone seems to have forgot already – remember i-Frontier?), and eventually getting acquired by Microsoft – Avenue A has basically accomplished what no other digital agency has and secretly wished for.

An acquisition of Avenue A by WPP would be a huge boon for the holding company, albeit would damage a lot of egos and create an awkward totem pole within GroupM. In the grand scheme of things however, this deal would help secure WPP’s positioning as the digital powerhouse among the agency networks, providing a significant boost in both scale and talent.

The potential deal would actually be an interesting structure, considering that Microsoft overpaid for the agency in the first place.

According to Ad Age:

Consider that in May 2007 Microsoft dropped $5.9 billion for aQuantive’s three businesses: Atlas, DrivePM and Avenue A. The deal was completed last August. While Microsoft was primarily interested in the first two businesses to help build out a massive ad platform, the latter accounted for 60% of aQuantive’s revenue. While $3.5 billion — 60% of $5.9 billion — isn’t necessarily indicative of Avenue A’s valuation in the Microsoft-aQuantive deal, there’s no way Microsoft would get even close to that for the shop. That figure approaches the market cap of WPP rival Interpublic Group of Cos. ($4.4 billion), and WPP’s own market cap is $10.7 billion. Selling Avenue A for market value would only highlight how much Microsoft overpaid for the No. 2 player in the ad-serving space. (Weeks before the Microsoft deal, the No. 1 player, DoubleClick, was snapped up by Google for $3.1 billion.)

According to the Ad Age article and people familiar with the discussions: Microsoft may “unload” the agency in exchange for a WPP package that would include 24/7’s Open AdStream publisher ad-serving tool plus cash.

Exciting times…

I could have easily titled this post “A tale of two platforms – the old and the new”…

Have you been following the online Olympics buzz? NBC has been incredibly restrictive about where & when their 2,200 hours of video content will live online. To make matters more interesting, the video player on NBCOlympics.com requires Microsoft’s SilverLight video plugin, which besides being a plugin that none of us have installed yet, totally alienates Mac users who are not even able to utilize the plugin at all, leaving Mac users out in the cold.

According to Nielsen, the first workday after the opening ceremony of Olympics, over 2 million unique video viewers and 4.6 million total visitors visited NBCOlympics.com (that is compared to 114 million TV viewers, an Olympics record). By the way, Yahoo’s Olympics site had 5.2 million viewers during the same day. So it begs the question that must have reverberated the board rooms at NBC for months, even years, prior to the games – is the lack of online video content and the delaying of online content until after the televised broadcast driving viewers to tune in on TV? Or would the ratio of online to TV viewing generally remain  the same even if NBC had let loose of the reigns a little bit? Are they making the best decisions to balance maximizing the return on the $894 million investment in the US broadcasting rights, with the long term needs of maintaining valuable relationships with viewers?

In the first two days of the games, 90% of viewers watched the Olympics on TV alone, nearly 10% watched on both TV and online, and only 0.2% watched online-only, according to Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research.

To complicate matters, there’s a 15 hour time difference between the US and China, and a good portion of the Olympics programming is being broadcast 12 hours after the actual events, giving reporters and bloggers enough opportunity to spread the results of the games (sans video of course) prior to the broadcast. So consumers may know the results prior to actually watching the games on TV (or online for that matter). What about simulcasting the TV and web programming? This would create no possibility for ratings erosion or cannibalization of one medium’s ratings for the other’s, it would only increase consumer choices, which is always a good thing. In fact, via deals with AT&T and Verizon, the TV coverage is indeed being simulcast on mobile TV. NBCU is after all using a new measurement tool they refer to as “Total Audience Measurement Index” (TAMI) to try and determine the aggregate reach of its multi-platform coverage.

Last notable point regarding the Olympics is what is happening elsewhere around the world. In an effort to preempt pirated footage hitting the web, the broadcasting group of the International Olympics Committee established a channel on YouTube, which is accessible to 77 countries – and of course the IP addresses of countries with exclusive broadcasting deals, like the US, are banned from viewing this content. Within China itself, P2P site PPLive.com is actually officially licensed to stream the live games. A quick search will bring up plenty of website and blogs that offer advice on how to “hack” around the restrictions and gain online access to the content if you really want it. Personally, I don’t want it that badly, but apparently many people do, possibly just for the principle of it.

Meanwhile On The Other Side of Town

Facebook Video Ad From Insidefacebook.com

Facebook Video Ad From Insidefacebook.com

Unless you’re living under a rock, you would have noticed by now that Facebook has relaunched a new layout and design, but what you may not yet have noticed are the new ad placements and formats. Video ads with commenting capabilities have rolled out on a test-basis on the Facebook homepage. Most of us will notice the “Sponsor” block on the right hand column filled with generic Facebook ads, but this is where the video unit is being tested. What an engaging concept, yet a double edged sword. However, the ability to tap into consumer demand and brand advocacy by displaying comments can be huge. The flip side of course, is if a marketer knows that their brand has as many detractors as it does advocates, this is not going to be the unit of choice.

So the moral of today’s story? The dichotomy between the application of online video of one of the most powerful media brands of our lifetime and the new kid on the block is equally experimental on both sides. Online video is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The only commonality is the potential.

Atlas Advertiser Suite

Atlas Advertiser Suite

I am incredibly excited to discuss the first in a series of posts about the topic of the next generation of online media analytics.

Why is there a resounding silence and echo when I say that? Why is the industry not jumping at the opportunity to apply a more sophisticated model to our efforts?

Folks – this is the future standard!

I’m excited! This is one of the biggest improvements in online advertising since the release of centralized post click/post impression tracking 10 years ago!

Bringing More Precision to DR Accountability
I have recently had the pleasure of receiving a demo on Atlas  Engagement Mapping, which is essentially their application of the “multiple attribution protocol” – essentially providing partial credit for each ad exposed or engaged with prior to a conversion event. For direct response marketers this is the panacea that further fulfills the the promise of accountability that digital media has promised for such a long time.

I have been yearning to apply this type of methodology to the tracking of client campaigns for many years. I sat on a Doubleclick advisory board for about 5 years or so and have always wished to have the ability to easily mine Doubleclick log files to apply multiple attribution to each conversion. It can be done – by using a third party like Theorem or Blackfoot, but it’s not an easy, turnkey or affordable process.

Particularly as search became the lion’s share of online ad spending over the last several years, marketers have been seeking better analytics on the inter-relationship between search and display ads., while agencies have been in desperate need of a deeper ability to generate insight that led to more intelligent optimization. The industry data just scratches the surface on that one…until now!

Atlas beat Doubleclick to the punch and has set the ball in motion, and all I can say is – “thank you for forcing the industry to progress”!

According to Atlas research, due to the “last-click standard” we have been using to-date, we have been ignoring 94% of the “engagement touch points” (influence) before each online conversion, and that 66% of converters are exposed to ads on multiple sites before the conversion occurs. Up until now we have only been giving credit to the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will.

Engagement Mapping Visualizer

Engagement Mapping Visualizer

Atlas Engagement Mapping allows the agency to apply weighting to criteria such as recency, ad format, and ad size, and you can change weighting for active (engagement) versus passive (exposure) variables. All of this adds up to a conversion credit %.

So why has Doubleclick not formally released a similar product? I know this has been on their radar for a number of years now. I wonder what the potential hit to search marketing credit and potential revenue for [parent] Google would be.  In fact, in the case study released by Atlas, search took a 60% hit in conversion credit compared to  the current last-click standard.  However, Doubleclick will not sit idly by as this evolution creates a big value difference between the analytics provided by DART versus Atlas. At any point in time either of these two leading ad serving and analytics systems offer one or two features that the other doesn’t, and it’s normally not a “make or break” feature. However, this new development is a game changer, and I look forward to seeing the far reaching ramifications.

Note: I did reach out to Doubleclick but have yet to be provided with the official position on where they stand with their application of the Multiple Application Protocol, but I will update the blog with that info as soon as I have a chance to chat with my friends at Doubleclick.

Not A Perfect World, But More Perfect Than Before
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect closed loop tracking system.  Will MAP be the solution to all of our problems? No, of course not. The attribution of a subjective percentage of post-impression conversions  as it relates to the isolation of online media from other media has been questioned, for years and this argument will re-emerge and take new shape. But multiple attribution tracking brings us a lot closer to the complete picture than we have been up until now, at least within the confines of the digital ecosystem.

A big question I have been asking myself relates to frequency. We have learned as an industry up until now that high frequencies are not necessary to drive response, conversion nor branding effectiveness. This fact has been an indication of digital media’s role in an integrated media mix, as well as the need for relevancy within the context of digital media being intent-driven. But it also begs the following thought…

Based on the last ad standard, we have been able to report on aggregate frequency’s impact on DR and branding metrics for years, and lower frquencies have been more efficient and effective (prior to hitting a reach saturation point), and regardless of attribution, the whole is still the sum of its parts. Even at an optimal frequency of 2 or 3, multiple attribution testing will have a huge impact on conversion credit reporting. So therefore, although powerful for display ads alone, as I mentioned earlier – the mac daddy application here, if you will, is providing insight into the manner in which search and display work cooperatively and the resulting attribution shifts.

Next Stop, Brandville
When this type of systematic approach to multiple attribution credit is overlaid onto branding effectiveness data such as Dynamic Logic, we will see another seismic shift in our ability to hone in on what works best for any particular client. Imagine partial attribution of increased awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent, a dynamic that nobody denies.

A Widening Digital Divide Among Marketers?
If you’re working in media planning, buying & management, I would definitely advise you to check out the demo of the new Atlas Engagement Mapping visualizer. If you’re an Atlas client already, give your rep a call and try it out. If you’re a Doubleclick client we’ll have more news for you soon, but you can always inquire yourself. If you are not using either system you may be out of luck for now, but eventually this will have to become the standard for everyone or the industry will continue to polarize the “data haves” and the “data have nots”, which is not not a pretty picture. The press has used the term “digital divide” to describe consumers with or without access to the internet. There is a greater digital divide between the small to mid sized bsuiness and the larger businesses who can afford the tools and data to glean insights that make running a business that much more efficient and profitable.  The reality is that data storage and bandwidth costs have  dropped significantly, and there is no reason why these tools cannot one day become affordable for all marketers. Sure certain features will be set aside for the “data-elite” who can afford them, but ultimately it is important that most marketers have access to these sophisticated tools.

Stay tuned for more on this topic!