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Coming Soon: A Web-Wide Social Network? May 13, 2008

Posted by Keith in Advertising, Technology, Uncategorized.
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Moves by Google, Facebook and MySpace Point to Crumbling Walls in the Social-Media Space

Published: May 12, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Three announcements, all within a week of each other, were indicative of the same trend: that the future of online social networking doesn’t live within a single entity’s walls but instead permeates the web.

Illustration: Google

MySpace, Facebook and Google each announced similar-sounding moves over the past week that will be worth paying attention to as marketers watch to see how the social web evolves. MySpace on May 7 said it would open up its profile data to third-party sites. Two days later Facebook said it would let users to connect their Facebook accounts to third-party applications and websites, and that it would also allow developers to incorporate Facebook friend data into other sites and applications. And today Google is announcing FriendConnect, a service that lets website owners add social applications to their sites.

Sites are blending
The moves are unrelated, according to the companies involved, but they all suggest what many web watchers and pundits have been expecting: that social-media tools and services would spread throughout the wider web, rather than stay contained within a single service.

Forrester’s Charlene Li is one of those believers. She has described how social networks will be “like air.” She writes on her blog: “I thought about my grade-school kids, who in 10 years will be in the midst of social network engagement. I believe they (and we) will look back to 2008 and think it archaic and quaint that we had to go to a destination like Facebook or LinkedIn to ‘be social.’

“Instead, I believe that in the future, social networks will be like air,” she continued. “They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be.”

The moves announced hardly make those services “like air.” But they do signify that sites such as MySpace and Facebook are open to the idea of moving their user data and social connections to the broader web.

MySpace’s moves will make user profile data more portable, and allow users to link their MySpace profiles to their profiles on other services, such as Twitter. Updates to a MySpace profile would then be automatically reflected on linked profiles elsewhere on the web.

Facebook gets friendlier
Facebook Connect, meanwhile, appears to be a developer-friendly move that harkens back to when it allowed third-party developers to create applications that took advantage of Facebook’s so-called social graph and allowed users to communicate and play games with others on Facebook through those applications. With the new service, a Facebook user, for example, can easily see on Digg.com which stories his or her Facebook friends voted up.

Google’s FriendConnect is more of a strategy to add social-media-enabling widgets to sites. Site owners can add a “snippet of code,” according to Google, and immediately add tools such as reviews, members’ galleries and message boards to their sites. They will also be able to add applications built using the OpenSocial platform that Google spearheaded. Users can import friends and interact via those applications with friends from other social networks, such as Facebook, Hi5 and Plaxo. The idea, said Google, is that any site can become an open social container.

“When the web is healthy and when more people have more ways to be more engaged online, our business is healthy,” David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google, said on a conference call announcing the service.

Even traditional media companies such as CBS understand the importance of spreading their social tools among third-party sites. CBS’s hyper-syndication web-video strategy also includes technology that lets CBS viewers chat with each other while watching content, even if they’re watching that content off CBS.com.

Listen up, marketers
So what does this mean for marketers? It means more consumers talking to each other across the web, and it means discussions around brands are no longer siloed to a single platform or network but are spreading to a wider swath of sites. If a marketer didn’t have a social-media “listening” plan, these kinds of developments could make tracking conversations consumers are having about a brand more difficult, but also make it more important that marketers do so.

Imagine if you could easily take the conversation about brands that’s occurring on Twitter and embed that into other sites via one of these services, said Rodney Rumford, CEO of Gravitational Media, an agency that has helped brands such as Vivendi and Mountain Dew have a presence in social networks, and editor of FaceReviews.com. Additionally, branded websites and widgets will be able to use the technologies to become “more social.”

“This is huge, the combination of the MySpace, Facebook and Google all saying basically the same thing, which is say that websites can become more interesting and engaging when you add a social layer to them,” Mr. Rumford said.

Good Marketers Understand What Makes the World Tick December 21, 2007

Posted by Celso in Advertising, Books.
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An excerpt from Joshua Ferris’ novelThen We Came to the End” about a troubled group of co-workers employed at a once prominent advertising agency, now facing the economic struggles of the dot-com era. I have yet to see a better written account of the essence of being a marketer.

But it wasn’t just our jobs at stake, was it? When we had trouble nailing an ad, our reputations were on the line. A good deal of our self-esteem was predicated on the belief that we were good marketers, that we understood what made the world tick – that in fact, we told the world how to tick. We got it, we got it better than others, we got it so well we could teach it to them. Using a wide variety of media, we could demonstrate for our fellow Americans their anxieties, desires, insufficiencies, and frustrations – and how to assuage them all. We informed you in six seconds that you needed something you didn’t know you lacked. We made you want anything that anyone willing to pay us wanted you to want. We were hired guns of the human soul. We pulled the strings on the people across the land and by god they got to their feet and they danced for us.

This is an amazing book about the daily grind of office co-existence which, is at times nurtured by our desire to belong to an established institution, a human tendency eloquently condemned by Ralph Emerson’s writing and central to Ferris’ novel.

Halo 3 October 4, 2007

Posted by Keith in Advertising, Technology.
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 halo3_002200692510555.jpg

Marketing: Halo 3 Television Commercials and the Long Tail

With Halo 3, the flagship title for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console, finally released, I would like to consider its success. As my colleague’s article about the marketing of the product illustrates, Microsoft invested a lot of time and money on various strategies, including partnerships with Burger King, Pontiac, and Mountain Dew for the latest game in the franchise. What shouldn’t be overlooked are the Halo 3 television commercials.

I think they are very good. The commercials were created with an intriguing conceit–they are clips from a documentary made in the future earth of the Halo universe. An off-screen interviewer coaxes veterans of the war to talk about the battles they were in and their thoughts on Master Chief, the superhuman warrior the player controls in the game.

The commercials are effective for multiple reasons: It gives the viewer a sense of the epic scale of this game. It immerses the audience in the world of Halo. It gets them revved up to play the superhuman master chief. And lastly, as any great piece of marketing for a story-based product, it leaves you wanting to know more about what happens.

There are criticisms for these TV spots: they are probably to slow and ponderous for many. And the lack of actual gameplay footage could be considered strange, and perhaps fatal. But I think they were made to appeal to those who played Halo before or heard about the game from their friends — I have already been asked by others who haven’t played the game if the story was good.

This is long tail marketing appealing to those who are already invested in the series. I would imagine in November, as the holiday shopping season begins, Microsoft would air commercials that would appeal to the mainstream and feature gameplay. In the mean time you can see two veterans reminisce over a great war.

Exerpt from Fast Company

Has the Future of Advertising Changed At All? August 8, 2007

Posted by Celso in Advertising, Technology.
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This post has been originally posted in my website, here.

The media and advertising enthusiast who on a daily basis follows the latest trends involving the subject is constantly asking how the media landscape will shape itself in the light of new media platforms, players and tightened ad budgets. Television will soon become an obsolete medium. Google is positioning itself to take over the advertising game, buying and selling TV, radio and online advertisement and eventually will eliminate the need for advertising agencies. And those infamously expensive 30-second spots aired during the Super Bowl will finally lose their incredibly hyped glare. For now these statements will remain as prophecies. What’s next in advertising has not changed at all as the recently revealed digital advertising strategy of the Publicis Group can attest. Publicis, as some may recall, recently made news for acquiring the Boston-based advertising agency Digitas in order to drive its digital efforts. According to this strategy, the recent future of advertising can be summarized in a few overused words that have adorned business publications for more than a decade: globalization, offshoring, digitization and convergence. Ultimately, Publicis goal is to achieve a one-to-one relationship with the consumer, which has been the dream of advertisers for as long as I can remember.

Perhaps this motionless perception is a bit too cynic on my part. Perhaps this strategy is instead the first seen tangible plan of action for achieving the results associated with all of these overused words. This is a plan involving the use of cheaper offshore labor to develop tailored product and service offers to consumers here and abroad, based on each person’s individual needs, tastes and peculiarities. It capitalizes on the two-way relationship between people and media (as opposed to TV’s one way communication model) which allows for the collection and analysis of behavioral data that will eventually result in a customized offer that the consumer will watch on any screen looked at during the average 17 daily hours humans spend awake. It can be the beginning of finally making what has been next become present. Publicis’ strategy sure plays along much like a Thomas Friedman narrative but successfully implementing it can become a Herculean task (just as some of the suggestions Friedman makes in his books) that will surely change the way consumers and brands interact.

While we wait to see the results of Publicis change of course, the questions surrounding search and online advertising companies still remain. David Kenny, CEO of Digitas and the man behind the new strategy, disagrees that any of the search giants can become both a medium provider and an ad agency representing the best interests of clients. For him, a strategic decision will have to be made between these two very distinct business propositions. And this is why, perhaps in a biased way, Mr. Kenny believes that ad agencies will continue to exist, linking consumer brands to content providers, even if search companies are the ones controlling all media. Once again, the advertising world finds itself entrapped in yet another prediction of what’s in store for the always-evolving media landscape.

What’s the Value of an Engaged Viewer? July 10, 2007

Posted by Keith in Advertising.
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What’s the Value of an Engaged Viewer?

OMD Claims to Know How Rapt Audiences Stack up Against Your Average Eyeballs


BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) — One engaged viewer is worth eight regular viewers, according to a new study.
New research from Omnicom Group’s OMD may move the seemingly fuzzy concept of engagement beyond the realm of academic debate by proving it really does move sales. The study could bolster advertising by better reflecting its contributions to sales growth, and the fledgling science of engagement measurement, which now has some tangible evidence of its worth.

Completed by OMD and presented to an Advertising Research Federation forum late last month, the research indicates that not only does consumer engagement with media and advertising drive sales, but it also can drive sales more than media spending levels. That suggests even a relatively small media outlay could work wonders should the ads draw keen attention from consumers within media they also find engaging, said Mike Hess, director of global research and consumer insights for OMD.

Brand Identity
Source: OMD

Further research necessary
The research, conducted by Sandra Eubanks, U.S. director of research for OMD, and Huw Griffiths, U.S. director of metrics and brand science, covered only three financial-services brands. They and Mr. Hess cautioned that broader research is needed to prove the link between engagement and sales or to determine how much media weight, media engagement and advertising engagement each affect sales generally.

But for the brands studied, which weren’t disclosed, figuring engagement into the picture increased measurable advertising return on investment 15% to 20% over models that only factor in Nielsen Media Research’s gross ratings points.

OMD used its proprietary engagement measure, an index that factors in such things as how often people say they watch a show, to measure media engagement. The agency used copy-test results measuring primarily how much people like ads to measure advertising engagement.

They mashed those numbers with the one discipline that’s been a hotter research commodity than engagement tracking — marketing-mix modeling — to analyze how much engagement with programming and with ads themselves drive sales.

Validation
The results appear to validate the usefulness of OMD’s media-engagement measure, not exactly a disinterested finding, Mr. Hess conceded. But the study also found that ad engagement — using copy-test measures in which OMD has no stake — had an even bigger impact than the media engagement.

The research appears to validate what copy-testers have been saying all along — that its copy-test measures really can predict ROI from an ad, Mr. Hess said.

For the three brands tested, consumer engagement with media had three times the impact on sales media weight (GRPs) alone did, and that consumer engagement with the ads had an eight-times larger impact on sales than GRPs. One result was to make the marketing-mix model more accurate, Ms. Eubanks and Mr. Griffiths wrote in their report.

Engagement creates sales
The results “clearly confirm the basic premise that media engagement drives sales,” the OMD team wrote. “Marketers have often felt that mix models understate the true impact of ROI and advertising. The addition of engagement metrics would help to minimize this effect. … Increased ROI [shown by adding engagement to the mix] could drive higher levels of investment in advertising vs. other marketing activities.”

But Gregg Ambach, VP-analytics services of ImmediateFX, a marketing analytics firm, cautioned that engagement can’t be separated from media weight, “because you can’t have one without the other.”

User-Generated Advertising May 26, 2007

Posted by Keith in Advertising, Uncategorized.
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The High Price of Creating Free Ads

A.J. Mast for The New York Times 5/26/07

Amateur filmmaker Dan Burke recreates a scene where he brushed his teeth with ketchup for a Heinz ketchup commercial contest at his home in Dayton, Ohio.

From an advertiser’s perspective, it sounds so easy: invite the public to create commercials for your brand, hold a contest to pick the best one and sit back while average Americans do the creative work.

AJ Mast for The New York Times

Brushing his teeth with ketchup wasn’t enough. Dan Burke sets up a camera while creating another video for the Heinz contest.

But look at the videos H. J. Heinz is getting on YouTube.

In one of them, a teenage boy rubs ketchup over his face like acne cream, then puts pickles on his eyes. One contestant chugs ketchup straight from the bottle, while another brushes his teeth, washes his hair and shaves his face with Heinz’s product. Often the ketchup looks more like blood than a condiment.

Heinz has said it will pick five of the entries and show them on television, though it has not committed itself to a channel or a time slot. One winner will get $57,000. But so far it’s safe to say that none of the entries have quite the resonance of, say, the classic Carly Simon “Anticipation” ad where the ketchup creeps oh so slowly out of the bottle.

 
 

Consumer brand companies have been busy introducing campaigns like Heinz’s that rely on user-generated content, an approach that combines the populist appeal of reality television with the old-fashioned gimmick of a sweepstakes to select a new advertising jingle. Pepsi, Jeep, Dove and Sprint have all staged promotions of this sort, as has Doritos, which proudly publicized in February that the consumers who made one of its Super Bowl ad did so on a $12 budget.

But these companies have found that inviting consumers to create their advertising is often more stressful, costly and time-consuming than just rolling up their sleeves and doing the work themselves. Many entries are mediocre, if not downright bad, and sifting through them requires full-time attention. And even the most well-known brands often spend millions of dollars upfront to get the word out to consumers.

Some people, meanwhile, have been using the contests as an opportunity to scrawl digital graffiti on the sponsor and its brand. Rejected Heinz submissions have been showing up on YouTube anyway, and visitors to Heinz’s page on the site have written that the ketchup maker is clearly looking for “cheap labor” and that Heinz is “lazy” to ask consumers to do its marketing work.

“That’s kind of a popular misnomer that, somehow, it’s cheaper to do this,” said David Ciesinski, vice president for Heinz Ketchup. “On the contrary, it’s at least as expensive, if not more.”

Heinz has hired an outside promotions firm to watch all the videos and forward questionable ones to Heinz employees in its Pittsburgh headquarters. So far, they have rejected more than 370 submissions (at least 320 remain posted on YouTube). The gross-out factor is not among their screening criteria — rather, most of the failed entries were longer than the 30-second time limit, entirely irrelevant to the contest or included songs protected by copyright. Some of the videos displayed brands other than Heinz (a big no-no) or were rejected because “they wouldn’t be appropriate to show mom,” Mr. Ciesinski said.

Heinz hopes to show more than five of them, if there are enough that convey a positive, appealing message about Heinz ketchup, he said. But advertising executives who have seen some of the entries say that Heinz may be hard pressed to find any that it is proud to run on television in September.

“These are just so bad,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive of the Kaplan Thaler Group, an advertising agency in New York that is not involved with Heinz’s contest.

One of the most viewed Heinz videos — seen, at last count, more than 12,800 times — ends with a close-up of a mouth with crooked, yellowed teeth. When Ms. Kaplan Thaler saw it, she wondered, “Were his teeth the result of, maybe, too much Heinz?”

 
Heinz Top This TV Challenge
Entry #4: My Entry For The Heinz Commercial Contest

Scott Goodson, chief executive of StrawberryFrog, an advertising agency based in New York, said the shortcomings of contest entries — not just those for Heinz — refuted predictions that user-generated content might siphon work away from agencies. “This Heinz campaign, much like the same ones done by Doritos, Converse and Dodge, only goes to show how hard it is to do great advertising,” he said.

In a traditional ad campaign, a client like Heinz will meet with its advertising agencies to come up with a central idea, often a tagline like MasterCard’s “Priceless.” The creative departments then design the ads while the media planners figure out where they should run. Except for the occasional focus group, consumers are largely on the receiving end.

In campaigns that solicit work from the public, the model appears to be quite different — consumers, after all, create the ads. But, in reality, ad agencies and brand marketers are still doing much of the legwork. Heinz and Doritos spent months planning their user-generated contests, hiring lawyers to vet them and designing advertisements to promote them. Then they assigned employees to wade through entries.

“These contests have nothing to do with cost savings,” said Jared Dougherty, a spokesman for Frito-Lay, the division of PepsiCo that owns the Doritos brand.

While the winners of the Doritos contest may have spent only $12, Doritos spent about $1.3 million on advertising in October, according to estimates from Nielsen Monitor-Plus. And that was when it was promoting the contest, which invited people to create a 30-second commercial that would run during the Super Bowl. Doritos received 1,020 videos and awarded prizes of $10,000 to five finalists.

And then Doritos, a unit of the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, spent more than $8 million on advertising in February when it showed the top five commercials, more than any month in the last two years, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Other companies are also spending handsomely to present user-generated content to the public. Last Tuesday, KFC put on a commercial during “American Idol” that consisted entirely of clips about KFC that consumers had posted on the Internet — even without a contest. Heinz, too, says that customers have been making videos starring its bottle long before its contest and posting them on sites like YouTube.

Heinz has run ads for its contest during “American Idol” and other television shows (as well as in large newspapers like The New York Times), but it has gone a step further: it has converted all the labels on its bottles and ketchup packets into ads for the contest. This was a major initiative that involved everything from building new industrial printing plates to timing the shipment of bottles so they would appear on shelves at the beginning of May, said Mr. Ciesinski of Heinz.

And for all of Heinz’s effort, the interests of many of the contestants lie far outside its own. Steve Sass, 48, who taped two Heinz commercials, is running for president as a write-in candidate. Ed Barry, 34, writes sketches about a character named Vinny and is trying to get his work noticed. Some contestants say in interviews that they prefer mustard or mayonnaise.

 

Michelle Cale, a 39-year-old Web designer in Morgantown, W.Va., has a more traditional motive. “It is a substantial sum of money, which, of course, caught my eye,” she said.

In one of Ms. Cale’s two Heinz videos, after dropping her children at school, she spends the day playing with a bottle of ketchup at the park. As she plays with the bottle on the playground as if it were a child, she proclaims, “you mean so much to me.” Then she pours ketchup on a juicy hamburger to eat it.

Then there is Dan Burke, who brushed his teeth and shaved with ketchup, and said he hoped the vulgarity would help his video stand out. A 20-year-old college student in Centerville, Ohio, Mr. Burke wants to win and to use the prize money to attend a two-year training program in wrestling.

He described his strategy: “I just thought to myself, ‘What is the single strangest thing I can do with ketchup?’ ”

Budget Allocation – Emerging Media April 23, 2007

Posted by Keith in Advertising.
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EMERGING MEDIA
Data from American Advertising Federation
(AAF), November 2006, via eMarketer. Shows
the percentage of media budgets allocated to
select emerging media according to U.S. advertising
executives.
MEDIA % OF BUDGET
Search                     27.0%
Online video           14.9
Blogs                        8.4
Podcasts                  8.0
Social networking 7.7
RSS                          5.5
Mobile                    5.2
Video games          3.6

(Celso’s wise in seeking a job in search marketing)

Nike Cleverly Uses Current Events April 20, 2007

Posted by Keith in Advertising, PR.
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Nike thanks Imus for raising race issue

NEW YORK April 18 (UPI) — Nike Inc. entered the Don Imus fray with ads suggesting the uproar over his racial remarks raised U.S. awareness of race relations and sexism.

Imus was fired last week from his nationally syndicated CBS radio show, simulcast on the MSNBC cable network, after calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.” on the air.

The Beaverton, Ore., supplier of athletic shoes, apparel and sports equipment took out a full-page ad in The New York Times Sunday, followed by banner ads on several Web sites, thanking Imus — without mentioning his name — for bringing race relations and sexism to the forefront, Advertising Age reported.

The print ad says: “Thank you, ignorance. Thank you for starting the conversation. Thank you for making an entire nation listen to the Rutger’s (sic) team story. And for making us wonder what other great stories we’ve missed.

“Thank you for reminding us to think before we speak,” it continues. “Thank you for showing us how strong and poised 18- and 20-year-old women can be.”

The ad says the controversy “unintentionally” moved women’s sports forward.

“And thank you for making all of us realize that we still have a long way to go,” it says.

Good Marketing Goes Beyond the Product March 10, 2007

Posted by Celso in Advertising, Differentiation.
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A good marketer can market everything, no matter what the product is. But what about laxative? Yup, check that too.

WSJ’s Best and Worst Ads of 2006 January 12, 2007

Posted by Michael in Advertising.
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CareerBuilder imageLast year was definitely a banner year for unusual and offbeat advertising spots — some successful, some not. The Wall Street Journal’s Best and Worst Ads of 2006 captures the ones that stood out the most, for good or for bad.