112 posts categorized "internet advertising"

May 21, 2010

Googlevision: Coming to a Best Buy Near You

A "who's who" partnership of innovation, Google, Sony and Intel is launching a new television platform that promises to change the way we watch TV by allowing people to access the rich utility of the Internet through their television screens.

"Google was able to conduct a series of Internet searches in a drop-down box that appears at the top of television programs. The search results pointed to Internet videos and other content related to the television program on the screen."

"A telecast of a sporting event can be shrunk into a small "picture-in-picture" box so a viewer can look at statistics or other material about the game on TV."

"Viewers can also make search requests by speaking into a remote that runs on Google's Android operating system."

"Google CEO Eric Schmidt described the potential of the Internet TVs as mind-boggling, although he acknowledged it might be difficult for some consumers to grasp at first. That's one reason he said Google decided to team up with Best Buy, which offers a "geek squad" to deal with complex technology."

It reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2007, "How to Save TV":

"This isn't a competition between TV and the Internet. The Internet is richer because of TV, and it's becoming increasingly clear that programs are richer because of the utility of the Internet. That interdependence needs to be embraced -- even harvested."

"As such, the way to save television is to discard the interruption advertising model on which is based -- that is, to make it more like what is good about the Internet. Rich interactive programs (Choose Your Own Adventure, anyone?), on-demand content that remains free and non-intrusive, and effective, accountable advertising."

"The Internet, simply, needs more bandwidth to support better quality content, higher adoption rates, and better usability. I know Cuban doesn't think much of this can be done, but I'm staking my future on the idea that it can."

"What will we call this integrated system? It's hard to predict. I suppose it depends on the primary path the innovation takes -- whether we're getting the combination of TV and Internet through AppleTV 10.0 or if we're getting it through Comcast Cable. If it's the former, perhaps our children will be asking if we can watch the Internet tonight. If it's the latter, maybe they'll ask if they can play on the TV."

First of all, you're welcome, Google. Your bill is in the mail.

Second, I have to raise an objection to this gross simplification used by the AP in their article:

"Google wants to turn televisions into giant monitors for Web surfing so it can make more money selling ads."

I'm not a fan in all the ways they want to do it, but Google wants to change the world. Selling ads is simply how they are able to fund new adventures, but it's also how they provide these paradigm changes for free.

The utilities they've developed in their relatively short life as a company have already changed the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we do research, the way we invest, the way we advertise and the way we build websites,

Not everything they've developed is exclusively (or even remotely) their idea, but any way you look at it, they've fostered widespread adoption of many of their useful technologies because they've developed a sustainable business model that allows them to offer it at no cost to the user.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Google, Schmidt, or any other Google employee doesn't care about the money. As Ronald Reagan said, it can't buy happiness, but it certainly can buy a better class of memories.

But money is a means as well as an end. Google could have been anything. They chose the type of business they would be, the applications they would develop and the work they would do.

I'm sure the money is nice. But you cannot sell a product like they're proposing to sell unless it has value to the buyer commensurate with the amount they will pay for it. If Google started out with the question, "How do I sell more advertising," they would have folded long ago. - Cam Beck

April 08, 2009

Conflicts of Interest

The skeptic is not one who doesn't believe anything without proof. He's just one who believes that people tend to act according to their own self-interests. Like the marketplace itself, this is neither good nor bad. It's just a force of nature.

Consider the following examples:

  • Google CEO's Eric Schmidt said that journalists should rely on online advertising. Did Schmidt make this assessment because it's right, or because 98% of Google's income is comprised of advertising revenue, and to state otherwise would be heresy?
  • College professors and administrators tout the benefits of a college degree. Perhaps they teach because they believe it's true. Maybe they believe it's true because they teach. What's clear is that without a steady stream of believers, they would have to find employment elsewhere.
  • Politicians want to prove they care about you by spending money on things that you care about -- and that the other guy doesn't care as much about you because he doesn't want to spend it on those things.  To maintain their position, however, they need you to forget that it's your money anyway, and their decision to take and spend your money removes your ability to choose what to do with it.
  • The voters who elect them are no different, of course. They will happily cast their lot with the person or people who appears to promise the most while taking the least -- from them. That these promises must be paid for by someone else appears to be of little consequence.
  • Companies want you to believe that owning their product or enjoying their service is better than the alternative, even if the alternative includes keeping your own money. Of course, their livelihoods depend on your being convinced of this.
  • Companies also have a strong desire to pay you as little as they can without causing you to leave, and you have a strong incentive to get the best compensation package the market will bear.
  • Unions want to convince you that market forces (including the freedom to choose where to work) are insufficient safeguards against abuse. Pay no mind to how increased union rolls fattens the pockets of the union bosses.

Powerful people can always mitigate the forces of self-interest, but it's useful to examine what their interests are before subscribing to their demands. - Cam Beck

Related video

April 07, 2009

Magazines vs. TV vs. Online

Which medium is the most effective? It's a question that every type of marketing agency is asking every day. Many people, media publishers and agencies default to the medium they have the most experience in.

One of the most recent studies getting coverage from McPheters & Company gets what will be a controversial heading "TV and Magazine Ads More Effective Than Ads on Internet". The study, commissioned by Condé Nast and CBS Vision, a major publisher and a major television network (insert red flag of potential bias) concludes that:

Within a half hour, magazines effectively delivered more than twice the number of ad impressions as TV and more than 6 times those delivered on-line.

Among web users, 63% of banner ads were not seen. Respondents' eyes passed over 37% of the Internet ads and stopped on slightly less than a third.

Though TV doesn't deliver as many ads per half hour as do magazines, net recall of TV ads was almost twice that of magazine ads; magazines in turn had ad recall almost three times that of Internet banner ads.

I don't question these results. I do believe that many Internet users have trained themselves to ignore banner ads. Also, I do believe that both television and magazines can be an effective advertising medium. However, I think the study doesn't consider a number of things, including:

Cost - What's the cost per impression for each of the three scenarios. Sure, maybe my banner ad only gets noticed say 1/3 of the time. However, if my banner ad cost is 1/20 of a television or print advertisement, then which is the better investment?

Placements and technology - These days, anyone who buys on-line media will not buy just banner ads. Typically there are sponsorship, custome placements in certain sections of sites and on-line promotions. In addition there are a number of different types of networks that can use technology that's not available offline to serve the ad to the right audience at the right time.

Rich media and video - Not all banner ads are created equal. Rich media ads and video ads tend, in general, to get a much higher response rate than regular banner ads and sometimes higher than their offline counterparts.

Optimization - If your on-line media buy isn't working, you can modify and optimize your buy on a periodic basis, even monthly. You can't do that with a print and television ad nearly as quickly if at all.

Maybe the problem here is that we're asking the wrong question. Maybe it shouldn't be which medium is most effective. We should take a look at the brand and product we're trying to promote and customize an approach based on our customer. With a budget large enough to do TV ads or even print ads, an integrated campaign using all three components together should be considered. Its just not a simple matter of plugging and playing into the "most effective media".

- Paul Herring

March 27, 2009

Measurement of social media and advertising

Not as smart Everyone's all tingly about social media. Seems like everyone is a social media expert. Every brand needs to be on social networks, a presence on YouTube and Facebook and their own Twitter channel.

Measurement of these channels is still in it's infancy. It's very difficult to prove, in most cases, that these investments have a positive ROI. There are some great examples of where it has worked but I'd suggest these are few and far between. Don't mis-understand me, I think proving ROI, true quantitative ROI on most advertising, is extremely difficult to prove. It doesn't mean it's not having an impact, it's just hard to quantify it. We can know it' having a positive impact by the number of friends, followers, page views, interactions etc. but we don't know what impact it's really having on the bottom line sales.

Ironically this is no different than advertising has been from the very beginning. Anyone who can tell you they can quantitatively measure the impact of a television or print advertising isn't telling you the whole truth. Sure, they can tell you it's having an impact through complicated equations that no one really understands. Truth is, there's no way to tie it back.

On-line media can be measured in many more ways that offline media. Engagement rates, interaction rates, page views, click-throughs, all these things have fueled the growth of on-line marketing over the last ten years. At the risk of biting the hand that feeds me however, they aren't able to truly isolate a decision.

Our decisions are influenced by so many factors that it's nearly impossible to understand which factor has the impact to make us choose one direction or another. As a discipline, marketing attempts to control chaos. Other business disciplines like accounting and operations are able to control or even understand inputs and therefore predict outcomes. Marketing is mostly about the customer who isn't controlled but influenced. Marketing, as a professor once told me, is the discipline most focused on increasing revenue rather than controlling costs. Only so much can be done to control costs. Revenue increases are about potential and possibilities and the life blood of any business.

- Paul Herring

Related Posts:

Is paid search getting too much credit?

January 21, 2009

The Thing About Hope

Hope2228331745_8a8b55f1be_o Seth Godin claims that marketers sell hope. I suppose it's true, in a way, but we should make the distinct point that the only thing worse than not selling hope at all is selling hope and not delivering the results the hope demands.

Usability: An opportunity to promise hope and deliver the expected result

Marketers aren't the only ones who sell hope, by the way. This should remind us of another of Godin's maxims: Marketing is too important to be left to the professional marketers.

Periodically I must explain to people -- clients and managers alike -- how a usable website improves their brand. Almost all of them politely listen, often they believe it, but occasionally someone in authority will laugh at the concept and insist replacing that usability with marketing fluff that no one will read anyway.

They call it "branding."

I've read enough by now that I can cite chapter and verse of several usability experts who have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that this is most often useless and frustrating. But, to these few, such objections are futile, and they are quick to dismiss the studies carried out by "usability experts" because, hey, after all, they're the "brand experts."

But if we're to take Godin's advice to heart, then we'll realize that no qualified individual comes to a website without purpose -- a hope in finding value in the form of information, entertainment, a little of both -- any number of things.

We have it in our power to make it easy on those people to find an answer they have every right to expect to find easily.

Or we can make it hard.

If we make it hard, they'll either muddle through it for as long as their hope reservoirs still contain enough goodwill to continue, or they'll deplete their supply of goodwill, leave the site, and never come back (or at least think twice about sticking around for as long as they did the first time, if they do).

So by all means, whatever it is you do for a living, sell hope. But make sure you understand what people really hope for, rather than what you hope to do in order to justify to yourself that you're providing real value. - Cam Beck

January 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Teams

Polamalu-si-cover Troy Polamalu is one of the most versatile safeties in pro football. A deeply humble and religious man, he's just as likely to pray for his opponent's health as he is to knock the snot out of them or return an interception for a touchdown -- and attribute it to "luck." Historically, he has played more like a linebacker with the range of a safety, but this year, he's played more like a safety who can hit like a linebacker. When asked if he prefers playing this way more than he enjoys playing as he did in previous seasons, in what can only be described as vintage Polamalu, the Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro safety said, "I prefer winning."

The result? Partly as a result of Polamalu's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the AFC Championship game against the stout Baltimore Ravens, the 14-4 AFC north and conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers are heading for their 7th Super Bowl, and their 2nd in 4 years.

A Texas Ranger throws a tantrum

Michael Young is a gifted baseball player for the Texas Rangers. He's also well-paid. He makes over $6 million per year.

I don't watch baseball, but I've heard on ESPN Radio that he was a phenomenal 2nd baseman who acquiesced to being moved to shortstop, where he also played very well.

But when the Rangers asked he move to 3rd base, to make room for an up-and-coming shortstop team management might help the team win, Young had enough. He asked to be traded rather than move to a position he didn't think he could thrive in.

In what I doubt is a coincidence, the Rangers finished the 2008 season with more losses than wins. Young reluctantly agreed to move, but reports say he isn't happy about it.

Are you Michael Young or Troy Polamalu?

Are you married to your tactics, or would you rather you (or your clients) simply win? 

There is no panacea of marketing. A lot of marketers in this space -- who read this and other blogs in our blogroll -- believe in what they do. They look at the landscape of traditional marketing and witness  account executives and brand creatives who go on exotic "business" trips on the client's dime and put out tv ads (sometimes even entertaining, award-winning work) that simply don't solve the client's problems.

They resist pushing the client over to another tactic or medium because that's not what they do. That is handled by a different department, and pushing it off will mean fewer exotic business trips, or less money for their team's expense account.

Maybe the right solution is being handled by a different agency altogether, and they're too worried about their own survival to countenance the loss of revenue to a rival agency.

The same can be said of more "progressive" marketers, too -- those who so fanatically believe in Internet advertising or social media and modern Internet technologies that they eschew all traditional methods of communication.

The right solution is the one that helps your company and your clients succeed. If you haven't considered alternatives to the tactics you offer simply because you don't offer them, then hire someone who can. You can decide what to do about it later.

Your clients will appreciate (and reward) your dedication to their well-being. - Cam Beck

January 13, 2009

The aged online

Mr_six_old_guy_lg  It wasn't too long ago when everyone thought only "young people" were online. Older generations, especially Baby Boomers and generations older weren't expected to really be heavy online users. Some of us marketers were guilty of making fun of the older generations for not getting it.

In the last couple of years, things have changed. Compete reports that "50-somethings, 60-somethings and 70+ use many technologies at or near comparable rates as younger age segments." Increasingly this generation is getting more and more frustrated as well. "Older consumers reported a higher level of frustration with the complexity of technology.  Sixty percent of consumers aged 50 and older indicated that a product having too many features was a main reason for being frustrated with technology, compared to 39 percent of consumers aged 18-49."

I'm afraid that the first inclination of a lot of marketers will be to ignore this segment. That could be because of Madison Avenue's obsession with youth or maybe marketing is just mirroring our culture in general. The fact is, however, that we ignore them at our own peril, especially during this recessionary economy where advertising dollars are harder to come by. Whereas younger segments may be more tech savoy and trendy, they don't have the spending power that this segments has and they don't represent as large a part of the population as the 50 plus generation does.

Maybe it's just me getting older but I'm becoming more aware of how we just seem to toss this group or even individuals to the aside. Not only are marketers ignoring them, on a much more personal level I think that we don't value the wisdom and experience that this generation brings.

As a marketer or a person, ignore them at your own peril.

- Paul Herring

September 18, 2008

Online marketing mix

Normally when people talk about a marketing mix, they're speaking of a mixture of media. TV, radio, print and online are the choices. With more and more eyeballs and brains going online, I think there is a need for an online marketing mix. Here are some of the important components:

Paid Search - At the very minimum brands should be buying their names and phrases related to their product. Not doing so is like throwing a party but not telling the people who are invited and interested to come the address of your house. Paid search is growing rapidly and has quickly outpaced display advertising, which isn't growing. If this is where you are spending your online marketing budget, however, your relegating online marketing to being only a direct channel and potentially missing opportunities.

Website optimization - I can't tell you how many companies I've worked with who build their website and expect for it to be "done" for the next few years. These days, with consumers and businesses using the web almost exclusively to find information, your website is never done. Looking at usability, search engine optimization and ways to attract and retain your audience should be an on-going process.

Online display advertising - What?? No one looks at those banner ads. That's not true. The problem with 90% of online display ads is that they are print ads with limited engagement. These same types of ads are then evaluated based on click-through or to sophisticated marketers leads or even sales. The best display ads take into consideration the audience, the right type of ad, and where the ad will be placed. The also incorporate ways to engage the target audience in ways that are consistant with the brand. It takes a lot more planning, designing and post-launch analysis but compared to the cost and measurable effectiveness of TV and print ads, it's worth it.

Email marketing - If people have the desire to receive communication from you, why would anyone miss this opportunity? This is a relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to the people who are interested. There is no media cost, the message can be tailored to the individual and like it or not email is still the number one way that people use the Internet.

Social media - There are social networks out there for almost any type of interest. Broader social networks like MySpace and Facebook are starting to have a broader audience. For virtually any brand there is a social network where you can have a presence.

Outreach - Blogs, groups and online outlets that are looking for content continually. If your not developing relationships with these outlets, your depending too much on paid media to do your work. Paid media is necessary but why not leverage earned media. It might just be better for your brand.

Developing and optimizing the online media mix takes a lot more time than traditional media. It's not the kind of marketing that you can just put out there and wait and see. However, there are definite cost advantages and no one can argue the results, whether they be sales or brand metrics, are much more measurable.

- Paul Herring


September 10, 2008

The Advertiser's Burden

Last month Seth Godin suggested that, for those content sites (like blogs) that have online advertising, if readers like the content, they might thank the content creator by clicking on an ad.

By ignoring ads, he says, "you're starving content."

Stop ignoring ads and just click on one. The writer will benefit and, as a result, keep putting out great content.

But in most cases, the user won't benefit.

That's why they won't click. It's asking a lot of users to stop whatever it is they're doing and not only click, but consider converting on the site they land on, when they had something else in mind when they landed on the page with the ad in the first place.

Instead, advertisers must find a way to transcend interruption. That is, clicking on a link has to be such a seamless part of the user experience that it actually fulfills or enhances the need that brought the user to the ad in the first place.

We're not going to win by wishing that users would just click on ads out of their own magnanimity.

We'll win only if we create value for the users in a way that satisfies the context of their behavior at a particular moment in time. - Cam Beck

August 13, 2008

Advertising as Content

Coke Please answer the following questions as quickly and as honestly as you can.

If you could watch TV without commercials, would you do it?

Would your answer change if you found out that, in lieu of advertising, advertisers strategically placed products throughout the show hoping that it would subtly influence what you buy?

Would your answer change if you found out that this technique was 100% more effective than traditional TV commercials in influencing consumer behavior? 1000% more effective?

Based on the answers to those questions, here's the big one:

What's the purpose of advertising?

Of course the example is bogus. I have no illusions about product placement within the content of a show being 100 times as effective as television commercials -- even if the product is the "hero" of the show.

The point is to get us all to think about the nature of advertising, where we draw our limits for acceptability, and why.

There are a lot of people who equate advertising as an attempt to manipulate people -- which is of course exactly true. We are social beings, after all, and we cannot escape the nature in which people interact and try to influence each other.

Advertising reflects our social nature. It did not cause it.

But the problem is that they see any form of manipulation as exploitation, which is false. Sometimes.

It depends on the end to which people are being manipulated. Are they being encouraged to do something good (e.g., brush their teeth twice a day with cavity-fighting toothpaste) or something bad (e.g. run up credit card debt in pursuit of social status).

Is Exploitation Really So Bad?
It seems like such a silly question that it shouldn't even need to be asked. But when you consider that not all people agree on where to draw the line between what is good and what is bad, you realize a fundamental dilemma: One person's exploitation is another's informed consent.

And when you consider that people and advertisements are diverse enough to please and offend equal portions of both, you can begin to see why people distrust advertising in general.

Conscience is a Minefield

This is one of the principle reasons advertisers desperately covet the ability to communicate:

  • the exact right message at
  • the exact right time to
  • the exact right person in
  • the exact right way

In the same order, to deliver that it requires:

  • knowledge of an individual's social and psychological makeup
  • knowledge of or access to his schedule
  • knowledge of his identity and location
  • knowledge of his moral scruples

Most people are uneasy about anyone having all of this information about them, because they already fear the prospect of someone manipulating them. They distrust advertisers.

So maintaining a healthy respect for privacy and to maintain effectiveness, it seems advertising must be framed as something else. However, not all efforts to navigate this landscape have been welcomed with open arms.

Here are some of the tactics in use today:

Product placement is just one example of this. Some groups strenuously object to this practice, calling it deceptive. In any event, those engaging in product placements will need to determine if the rewards justify the cost and if it can be reliably predicted and duplicated.

Search engine marketing is also an example of advertising as content, but with SEM, at least the user has expressed an intent to be exposed to something that might answer his question, and the advertisements are clearly marked. Plus, it's easier to track the immediate effects in real time.

PayPerPost is an attempt to frame advertising as content, but since blogger backlash forced them to require bloggers identify their endorsements as advertising (and some other issues regarding compensation), I tend to be skeptical about its long-term viability.

Blogger outreaches are efforts to marry bloggers to the right opportunities, in the hopes that they may speak favorably of whatever it is the marketing effort is promoting. This is a dangerous game, too, if it is done wrong. Some companies have been skewered by a segment of the community for the slightest hint of impropriety.

Of these efforts, the common characteristics people tend to appreciate most are transparency and authenticity. Of course, with product placement in fictional television shows or movies, this is a bit trickier. Working through that maze is a post in itself.

Where Does This Leave Us?
There is no panacea of marketing. All approaches we've discussed have their difficulties. They risk effectiveness, capital, or by virtue of the PR effects of wrongheaded planning or execution, both.

What's important to remember is our responsibility to serve our audience and the common good as a whole -- insofar as the common good can be objectively identified. With that principle in mind, we can fearlessly proceed with our best understanding, even knowing we'll make some mistakes. We'll be certain to be listening the entire way so that when we do make a wrong turn, our audience will be sure to tell us which way we need to go.

If we've been treating them right all along and continue to treat them with respect throughout our recovery, they'll not hold our mistakes against us for long. - Cam Beck

Disclosure: The coke can was unopened in the photo above.

Related Posts
Part 1: Give Them Ads You Want Them To See
Part 2: Give Them Ads They've Asked To See   
Part 3: Build Relationships
Part 4: Adopt Their Goals as Your Own