April 9th, 2014

What was the most memorable moment of this year’s Oscars? Lupito Nyong’o’s amazing, A+ speech? The pizza delivery? No. It was Ellen’s celebrity selfie gone viral. It was a commercial success. When I wrote the first version of this post, almost a month ago, I wanted to make a point about how traditional television advertising would someday disappear, replaced by more subtle and creative innovations in marketing. This was after I’d sat through 15 uninterrupted minutes of commercials while waiting for George Clooney to appear on one of the morning talk shows.

I’ve been so spoiled by Netflix, HBOGO, Amazon Prime, and the easy availability of Web clips from my favorite TV shows that I rarely turn on the TV anymore. I do all of my “viewing” on my iPad – and it’s mostly commercial-free. As I sat through that lengthy block of commercials, I wondered: “Why do people put up with this?” There will come a point when they won’t. Luckily for marketers, there are more palatable forms of advertising, as Ellen’s selfie demonstrates.

If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars pic.twitter.com/C9U5NOtGap
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014

Mass media has taken a hit over the last several years, and undoubtedly old and new forms of advertising will co-exist for some time. But viewing patterns are changing quickly, even as old media companies cling to the 30-second spot. Disney, for example, just signed a deal with Dish Network to stream ABC content. The agreement, however, requires the satellite service to disable its ad-skipping technology.

Eventually, consumers will win. As I sat patiently through those 20 or so commercials (none of which I can remember), I thought: “This is really stupid.” I can watch a George Clooney interview anytime I want on the Web. I don’t need to waste my time watching advertising that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I do for fun or work.

There are just too many options to watch favorite shows without the commercials.

Consider these recent developments:

– Netflix posted better than expected earnings last quarter and announced that it has 44 million subscribers. That’s about the same number of people that watched the Oscars, but Netflix is increasing subscribers at a rate of 2 million per quarter.

– Netflix doesn’t release its viewership numbers, so it’s hard to say how any one of its shows compares to ABC’s Oscar extravaganza. Good Morning America has more than 6 million viewers, for example. Still, estimates of how many people watched the second season of House of Cards, their original series, have ranged from a few hundred thousand to more than 5 million. And the streaming service won real credentials after the series won a Golden Globe.

– More people are watching TV on mobile devices, and they are spending more time on digital media than watching TV. Eventually, advertising dollars will follow that trend and shift from TV to digital, according to Business Insider. Be sure to check out the great charts in this article.

If marketers want to generate awareness and leads, they’re going to need to get very creative. Which brings me back to Ellen’s selfie. The marketing innovation behind this is nicely summed up in this lead paragraph from a WSJ story:

“Samsung Electronics Co. spent an estimated $20 million on ads to run during breaks in the Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday night. But Samsung may have got more promotional mileage from Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres during the show itself.”

Of course, this kind of marketing win isn’t without precedent. Oreo achieved a similar result by quickly reacting with a clever tweet to last year’s Super Bowl blackout.

Nevertheless, these events occur just once a year, and brands put enormous resources behind them. What about the small moments of every day life? How do we innovate marketing when mass media disappears, and consumers are free to choose only what they want to see and hear?

In my mind, it comes down to story – not your brand’s, but the consumer’s. How does your product or service fit into the day-to-day experience of your buyer?

Samsung didn’t just pay for product placement. It paid for a story. We’ve all taken the group selfie, and not only can we relate to the experience, we can even imagine ourselves in the company of celebrities.

So is television advertising over? No, but I think we’re going to see a lot more advertising dollars flow toward integrating product with story and far fewer 30-second spots.


March 19th, 2014

Hats off to P&G. The overwhelmingly positive response to their tearjerker commercial targeting moms in the Sochi Olympics (“Pick Them Back Up”), was the latest example of the buzzworthy power of emotional branding and advertising. Almost 20 million people have viewed it so far online. This type of emotional advertising is pretty new for P&G–as Jim Stengel, former chief marketing officer at P&G pointed out, “there was not a whole lot of recognition of the emotional connection with a brand or company” until recent years.
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February 26th, 2014

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking to my colleagues at the Solo PR Summit–a conference put on by the lovely Kellye Crane each year in Atlanta.
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February 5th, 2014

Adnimation is a new Cost Per Click (CPC) ad network that uses animated ads and claims that there’s a significantly higher CTR. I’ve decided to try running the Adnimation ads here on my site as a test. You’ve probably already seen them running. I’ve also documented the signup process for publishers like me. First, a little bit about what Adnimation is, and how it works.
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January 15th, 2014

Below is my latest column that ran in Advertising Age's special 2013 opinion issue, with my own research on mentions of "startups" in Ad Age listed above. I've also been having a fun exchange about this with Kite's Tarah Feinberg, some of which you can catch on Google+ (yes, really, G+ still exists). Tarah noted, "We don't believe that 'brand and agency love for startups is going to fizzle'; we believe they're going to start dating for marriage, rather than just to get laid." I think he's on to something, and it dovetails with the article. The sleeping around is over; now it's time to focus on real relationships.
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December 16th, 2013

As an investor and a marketer, the recent Twitter IPO has had me intrigued. What is the perceived value of one share of Twitter, and how valuable are social media companies as a whole? When I’m 80 will my grandchildren favorite my Tweet about “Those darn kids r in my yard again! #middaynap”? Or are millions of investors essentially trading a fad?
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November 27th, 2013

Now that it’s a public company, Twitter will eternally have a lot of questions to answer regarding revenue. The company’s monetization efforts have been criticized heavily for years, and are obviously now in a greater spotlight than ever.
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October 30th, 2013

If you’ve read this blog, or anything I’ve written for that matter, then you know I’m a strategy before tactics kind of guy, but sometimes you just need some new ideas and tactics.
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October 4th, 2013

Google has launched two new tools Ready Image Ads and Ready Ad Gallery at the IAM MIXX. The tools will make it easier to create IAB standard and HTML 5 compatible ads on the fly. Since, iPhone and iPad support HTML5 instead of Flash, the new tools from Google will let advertisers create display ads, which run on these devices.
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September 10th, 2013

According to a report released by Marin Software, Google's Product Listing Ads (PLA) have higher click-through rates in the paid search results than the standard text ads, since November 2012.
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