Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Display Dead?

I just read an amazing stat from the IAB:

In 1997, the average click through rate on online ads was 2.1%

In 2001, it was 0.5%.

And in 2008, it was 0.1%.

The media and advertising industry has to get ahead of this, and fast. What do you think is the underlying issue?

The rise of social media? Inconsistent and limited online ad formats? Lack of truly entertaining content from brands? All of the above?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Getting Past Viral

Here is a great post from the people at Big Spaceship on how marketers need to re-think how they approach viral communications. The core idea is not a new one: you need to give more than ask in return to be a successful brand in today's world. There are some interesting thoughts about what motivates people to share content with their friends, and how so many marketers expect people to do this on the brand's terms.


I especially like this quote (it's my motto for new work in 2010):

"We need to understand that effective marketing is no longer about making consumers serve our agenda, but finding meaningful opportunities to serve theirs."

That's a great filter to use in evaluating communication ideas that attempt to be "viral."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hanshin Tigers

I recently traveled to Osaka, Japan for work on a new global client. One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to see a Hanshin Tigers game. The Tigers are one of the most beloved Major League baseball teams in Japan.

It was a completely different experience than an American baseball game. Every single one of the 100,000 people there was totally focused on the game the entire time. The food was different -- rice with brown curry instead of hot dogs. The beer guys had backpacks with mini-kegs instead of tallboy cans. But what really stood out was how incredibly positive the fans were. They had set cheers for every player at bat, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of songs to sing. When the other team was at bat, they didn't boo or yell, they just sat there silently. Their enthusiasm was really contagious -- by the end I was cheering along with them. And all this even though the Tigers were losing badly to the opposing Hiroshima Carp team the whole time.

The experience was a powerful reminder of how enthusiasm creates a positive feedback loop, and how negativity reinforces itself. It's a nice thing to keep in mind when the going gets tough.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Machine / Many Windows

I highly recommend watching this video about the next 5,000 days of the web. It's 19 minutes long but worth the time to better understand how the web is likely to evolve.

From the perspective of an advertising agency, there are several interesting nuggets:

1. We need to get better at believing in the impossible. It sounds trite, but as Kelly says, who could have imagined that Wikipedia or Craigslist would work so well?

2. The web is one huge machine with many windows. Each computer, cell phone, monitor - they are all just windows into the central "machine" that is the web.

3. Attention is a currency. Getting people to pay attention will be increasingly hard to do, and given freely only to personalized interests. Brands will have to do a better job of customizing messages for individual interests, and ensure they have compelling stories to tell. Everything else will be ignored with impunity.

4. Total personalization requires total transparency. In other words, customizing things for people requires that they share their personal data freely. Privacy is going to be a huge issue here. How much will people trust that their data will not be misused? And how long before a brand misuses freely given data and pays a heavy price? We already see the beginnings of this problem with email SPAM and loyalty clubs at retailers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Long Form Content = Are Agencies Ready?

It looks like Audi is behind "Meet the Beckers", an online campaign designed to make Audi drivers look like the only well-adjusted luxury car buyers out there. I was a huge fan of Audi's UK ad for the A4 from the late 90's, where we follow the life of a City banker in London who test drives an A4 and says "not for me, mate." And from a strategic stand-point, I think this new effort is moving in the right direction. However, I can't help but think the writing and dialogue is just not so great. If you want consumers to spend 2-3 minutes watching online video that they know is from an un-named advertiser, it better be as good as the stuff on offer at Hulu. And while amusing, "Meet the Beckers" is just not up to that standard. So what does this mean for agencies? We are pretty damn good at short form video content, but when the format is more akin to a TV show, most agency copywriters just don't have the experience. That's not to say that agency creatives can't learn to do great long form content -- there is a rich history of advertising creatives moving on to film and television. But if agencies are going to succeed in getting consumers to watch their longer form video content, we're going to have to get a lot better at it.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Blowing Up Cliches

Love this new ad from Holiday Inn Express. Expanding on their long-running campaign theme that staying at their hotel makes you smarter, the latest installment features a buttoned-up white marketing executive who schools some guys on the street unlucky enough to challenge his rapping skills. I wonder if the agency copywriter penned his rap, or if they had to get some outside help?


Friday, August 15, 2008

Content vs Context - The Future of Advertising

This video from the Cannes Young Lions series poses an interesting question that gets at the heart of what advertising will look like in 20 years: is great storytelling the key to getting people to pay attention, or is the new model all about providing something useful? If you agree that brilliant storytelling and great content drives people to pay attention to brands, then really nothing will have changed except for an exponential growth in the number of communication channels. However, if Nick Law is right, then people will be annoyed by storytelling and just want brands to give them tools that make their lives easier. Personally, I think the debate here is too black and white. Yes, great storytelling makes people more likely to pay attention, especially in the case of brands that are selling emotional/image based benefits. However, if your product has more functional benefits, or is complex (e.g. technology, cars, a mortgage) then storytelling is not the primary thing - you want information and helpful tools first, engaging content and narrative comes second. What do you think advertising will look like in 2028?