It’s content …

January 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Jump into the hot-tub time machine and travel back to an era when another Clinton had their eye on the White House. The line that defined the campaign for Bill Clinton was “It’s the economy, stupid”. Lets riff on that a bit today “It’s content, stupid”. Within the ad economy the conversation has turned very rapidly to the rise of the machine and programmatic buying. This is a healthy conversation as for a certain part of the marketing spectrum inefficiency is being rung out of the system – and marketers are able to capitalize on the full potential (efficient reach and frequency) of the digital medium. That said programmatic cannot support all marketers goals. Yes brand dollars will flow to programmatic – but brand dollars are not going to be cut off from more integrated digital executions.

So back to “It’s content, stupid”. Maximizing reach and frequency are very top of the marketing funnel strategies that build awareness – however to bring a brand into a consumers’ consideration set a brand has to deliver a much different “advertising” experience. This is where content comes to play. Brands have a lot of content, and the internet has a lot of content – and both are constantly creating and flowing content into the system. The beauty of the system is the simple fact that it encourages and entices sharing of content. Savvy brands are pushing their content out and pulling complimentary content in – no walls. By pushing content out brands are broadening the exposure of their assets to a much wider audience – and starting and building conversations with consumers. That is one step in how a brand moves from awareness to consideration.

Another End of Year List …

December 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Like just about everybody with a voice and a soapbox I am going to wade into 2013 nostalgia and present my top 10.   Sorry not movies, music, epic fails etc . just the 10 things I think had the most resounding impact on the online advertising space – and will have influence in 2014.   So in no particular order ….

  • Programmatic buying – 2013 was the year more and more brands accept programmatic buying as a viable compliment to their high impact programs.  Programmatic emerged from the “black box” to become a true component of a broader advertising effort and helped many advertisers create efficiencies by streamlining the partners they work with.
  • Content curation/distribution – We live by the mantra content is king and 2013 was the year brands realized that being a walled garden of content was, really, of little value.  Brands rushed to curate good quality content of their own or user-generated – and more importantly recognized that it is served best when distributed and shared to the masses.
  • Native advertising – along with “twerking” perhaps the most over used phrase in 2013.   Native advertising when done well is a beautiful thing – when done poorly seems like nothing more than a shrill plea for attention.  I think 2013 was the infancy/toddler years for this concept and 2014 will be its adolescence – which could mean more angst as brands learn to strike a delicate balance of engaging with consumers without seeming needy and pandering.  Stay tuned ….
  • Mobile – there are somewhere over 3bn smartphones in use on earth, almost double the number of PCs ….what more needs to be said
  • Blur … TV, video, beyond the screen – 2013 was not the year of video.  It was something much more as consumers found a whole new array of short and long form video content available, and a widening of choices for when, where and how to consumer it.  Also 2013 was the year in which content producers turned to the web in full force to keep the conversation and story going and providing fans with immersive experiences well after a season has ended.
  • Vine – it’s amazing what can be accomplished in 6 seconds.   Vine captures perfectly the immediate payoff viewers expect from content – got 6 seconds and here it is.  Brands are getting on the bandwagon and successfully using vine to partner with influencers, curate content and even create TV spots.
  • Moms – the consumer power this group has makes a brand manager’s knees quiver.  We talk a lot about the impact of youth on marketing, but think for a moment on how brands have shifted their marketing plans and spend to engage moms – its staggering and is impacting across the board how they market to nearly all adult demographic segments.
  • Cross-platform programs – 2013 was the year when savvy marketers went all-in with programs that took advantage of the unique characteristics and distribution power of multiple platforms.  We’ve seen this with social being affixed to nearly all programs, but the scope of programs today tying together in a cohesive package social, display, live events, influencer marketing, video, content curation etc… is staggering.
  • Traffic quality – kudos to marketers for demanding accountability and transparency.  Kudos to the supply partners who stepped-up and delivered on their promises.   We are in a very young industry and the pains we suffer at times are normal – when we have an environment of trust and verification we will all succeed.
  • Data – I’m not talking about NSA type data.  I’m talking about the deep, rich data we are getting about the impact and reach of campaigns – across platforms.   The data is providing us with a much clearer view of the effectiveness of a campaign – making optimization easier, inventory acquisition more efficient and ultimately our clients more successful.
  • Washington – OK so I said no epic fails, but any list not mentioning how the gridlock in Washington impacted marketers, agencies and consumers would be shortsighted.   The seeming inability of Washington to move beyond partisan bickering and the shutdown of the US government cast a pall over consumer sentiment and threw a wrench into many marketers Q4 planning.

The coming year will be a good one for the industry – all signs point to a recovering economy and hopefully a recovered consumer.   Year in and year out I am amazed by the kinetic pace at which our industry changes, adapts and evolves.   I expect a year from today I’ll be in much the same reflective mood and again be amazed at the strides the industry has made over the previous 365 days – and happy I am still here.

Spending Season part 2

November 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

As you can imagine our seasonal consumer study ( produces reams of data – much of which doesn’t make it into the final report. One of the points that caught my eye and reminded me of findings we used to see in our household studies is the fact that 1/4 of moms say they shop online because “there are no store hours to worry about.” At face value that seems to imply that convenience rules in a hyper busy world – but in today’s near 24/7 brick-and-mortar retail experience I’m not so sure that is entirely what it means. I think comfort comes into play – comfort in being able to browse without someone asking “can I help you”, comfort in abandoning the shopping cart without guilt, comfort in taking your time, comfort in comparing price, and comfort in knowing that you just can walk away. As we roll into the peak shopping season retailers should look at the online experience they provide and if it doesn’t feel comfortable – fix it.

Spending Season 2013

November 5, 2013 § 7 Comments

Halloween is in the rear view mirror—and all eyes are on the upcoming holiday season.

If there ever was one, this is the year for mobile. According to our latest Online Insights study, where we surveyed 993 US online adults about how and when they plan to shop for the holidays, nearly one-half of consumers will use a smartphone to shop this year. That figure is up 51% from our 2012 study. Two-fifths will use a tablet for holiday shopping—a 190% increase over last year!

Considering Hanukkah starts before Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday falls in December for the first time since 2008, the respondents to our survey are ready to hit the malls and shop online. In fact, of respondents of who specified when they would shop for holiday gifts, a plurality (44%) says they will start shopping after Thanksgiving. And that means marketers and retailers have distinct opportunities NOW to pinpoint and engage their target consumers.

Remember though—engagement is the key! Presenting captivating creative that allows shoppers to research and compare offerings, find a location where they can purchase products and grab coupons or sales promotion codes should be paramount.

Grab the full “Spending Season 2013” Online Insights here (PDF), and check out our Spending Season 2013 infographic below.


Desktop Computer = Rotary Phone?

September 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

A bit of history – once the phone was an essential decorative object in the household.  It was wired to the wall – and had a rotary dial on it which a caller would use to enter the number they wished to reach.   But like any technology device time did no favors – soon there was the keypad and the rotary phone went the route of the Dodo bird.   The story has been repeated countless times and continues today.   IDC today published a report that tablet-computer shipments will top personal computers for the first time in the 4th quarter of this year.   The dramatic shift of consumers away from PCs to mobile devices is having an extraordinary shift in not only the the technology industry, but also the advertising industry.   The shift is only going to accelerate as the market for smartphones and tablets matures, and lower priced models become more available and popular.   We’re at an interesting junction where consumer mobility is becoming the driving element to a brand’s marketing strategy.   The mobile revolution is already annointing the technology winners (Apple, Samsung, Google etal) and losers (HP, Microsoft etal) – I don’t think we are too far away from making the same list for consumer brands. 

In fantasy football, men go long for mobile

September 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

Originally posted on VentureBeat:

Yahoo fantasy footballMark Kaefer is the marketing director for Burst Media.

The NFL season kicks off today, and fantasy football is all the rage. A Google News search on the topic currently yields about 46.2 million results.

Last month, an article quoted Tom Brady (the NFL’s VP of content, not the New England Patriots’ quarterback) as saying that fantasy football players consume seven times more NFL-related media than fans who don’t play the game — and that such fans “bring their laptops and/or tablets to sports bars every fall Sunday so they can meticulously track fantasy stats over hot wings.”*

Even more interesting: According to Manish Jha, the NFL’s general manager of mobile media initiatives, television has become the second screen among hardcore fans — especially those who play fantasy football. The article continues:

“Second screening” typically means using a mobile device to access information complementary to what’s occurring on TV. For…

View original 590 more words


September 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

So KISS of course is one of the greatest bands of the 1970′s.   Its also the principle by which most of us operate as we weave through life.  Keep it simple – saves time, money and invariably leads to a better outcome.   In our world of media, impressions, platforms, eyeballs and consumers the KISS principle is taking root.   The kinetic pace of acquisition activity is clearly a sign that the media (and agency) industry see an integrated, vertical stack as the best way to serve marketers needs.   It makes sense – consumers don’t parse their time by platform.  So why should marketers be forced to parse their programs by platforms.   A consumer is a consumer – regardless of where and how they access content.   That concept to me is the essence of KISS to our industry – and will be the driving force behind more consolidation and the anointing of winners and losers. 

There’s a Big Audience for Online Video

November 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Our recent Online Insights study turned up some interesting facts on how much and what types of online video is being consumed. Check out our findings below. And check out the full report here.

A Pulitzer Goes to ProPublica, the First Ever Digital Only Award

April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

MediaBistro’s FishbowlNY had this to say about the Pulitzer given to ProPublica for the series by Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger on the role played by banks and hedge funds in the - still reverberating - financial crisis. It says it all.

“While all the Pulitzer winners deserve recognition, FishbowlNY wanted to highlight, which won the first Pulitzer awarded for a series that didn’t originate in print. Read that sentence again, because this is huge news.”

Quite huge, and it comes only two years after Pulitzer’s rules changed to allow entries from digital only participants.

Congratulations ProPublica, Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger,

Bill Cosby on Advertising: “Make the Program Interrupt the Commercial”

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

In Ad Age, Rance Crain interviews Bill Cosby, who will be the first-ever winner of the American Advertising Federation’s President’s Award for lifetime contributions to advertising in a ceremony at the annual Advertising Hall of Fame confab March 30th.

Explaining his approach to endorsing products such as White Owl cigars, Ford, Coca-Cola and (best of all) Jell-O Pudding, Bill Cosby said:

“I want to make the program interrupt the commercial.”

Anyone looking for a ticket to the Advertising Hall of Fame awards as a recipient in some age hence has Cosby’s manifesto to go by. There is also this, per Rance Crain’s report:

“Mr. Cosby professed he doesn’t know what makes a good commercial. “It’s like a room full of people looking at page one of calculus. How do you know who’s going to understand? And they might be laughing, but what was the product? You’ve got to entertain no matter what, but people have to remember what was being advertised.”

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