Archive for July, 2012

Are tablets the future of advertising?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

source: Marc Chagall

At a drinks party recently one magazine editor confided in me that he thought the future business model for his magazine lay in diversification of services.  Conferences and events have long been used by Media Week to generate added revenues.  (Have you booked your table yet ?) This kind of of thing is newer for the glossy magazine that we were discussing at the party and the editor was enthusiastic about the possibilities.  He mentioned that he had suggested curated holidays as a further revenue stream.  “Look at me, I started as a story teller, “he said, “but now I’m a travel agent”.

Diversification is good, but is this the only means available to print media to drive profits ?  Not according to Arif who describes the Mail online’s business journey here .

Of course at recent conferences and media get togethers the iPad and tablet advertising in general have been called the saviours of glossy magazines.  The latest round of UK tablet research from the IAB is bullish as you might expect about advertising on tablet computers.  47% consumers see it as the future of advertising overall.  They expect to see their favourite brands’ ads on tablets.  UK consumers want ad funded content and enjoy interacting with tablet advertising.  However the research also marks a level of criticism from respondents about tablet advertising.  30% claim to be disappointed with current ads. 

I don’t know how this compares with their level of disappointment with ads on other media (they may be a very critical bunch), but consumer expectations aside I do think that there is a necessary step for our industry to take in order to set conditions for ad funded content on tablets to flourish.

I can understand that the IAB’s respondents want a good bit of interactivity and entertainment from Tablet ads.  My way of judging good advertising is less to do with how entertaining it is (I am easily entertained as everyone who knows me will acknowledge).  It has more to do with whether it has fulfilled one or other of the two criteria of good effective advertising (that sells stuff).  Has it created demand? Has it harvested demand?

Google shook up the demand harvesting side of our business by offering shared risk to advertisers.  It is time for the same step change to radicalise the demand creation aspect of advertising.  We need to see media owners, media agencies and clients enter into shared risk discussions that set out clear and consistent kpis for medium and longterm advertising objectives.  This will itself drive best practice attribution modelling and accurate cross media research.

We have been pioneering this at MediaCom. It is a trickle of revenue for most mainstream media owners.  It is time to open the flood gates.

Lessons from The Pitch

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The Pitch got mixed reviews from critics.  The hour long unscripted shows on Sky Atlantic showed a behind the scenes view of two creative agencies pitching for a US client’s business. 

Jonathan Bernstein writing in the Guardian said “The Pitch is so boring it would drive Don Draper to drink”.  (See what he did there?… no, neither do I).  If you read his review you would be forgiven for giving the shows a miss. 

As someone who works on pitches of some kind nearly every week of the year, I found the show gripping and full of reminders of the kinds of lessons you learn from the real experience of pitching ideas and for business to clients.

In one episode the head honcho of one of the agencies pitching tells his team, as they go for the joint briefing with a competitive agency : “Try not to embarrass yourself or the agency”.  Good advice, but not exactly team spirit building.  Remember morale is everything and morale is a fragile state of mind.

In another episode, where two agencies are pitching for Frangelico liqueur we see an agency veteran pitching against a new planner doing her first ever pitch.  He puts his faith in his “guardian angel”, and pretty much delivers a confident and traditional pitch.  The stakes are high.  If he loses he says it will be his last pitch ever.  She’s only just started work after a long illness.  She’s very nervous.  Her agency boss says to the client : “We’d prefer you to consider this not as a pitch but as our first working session. “  This is a great move designed to make the client audience less judgemental at a stroke. Guess who wins ?

In this series we see time and again that few clients buy strategy, they are swayed by executions.  If a campaign flatters the brand and the brand owner  the client will prefer it.  Always.

If it earns a repeat I’d give it a try, for a practioner it was fascinating.  Last word of this blog to Mark DiMassimo CEO of DIGO : “The biggest mistake is to forget that you’re pitching every moment”.

The Marketing Truth Deficit is greater than I thought.

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

“Truth in advertising has long been something to ignore or interpret creatively, if not intentionally avoid altogether”. 

When Jonathan Salem Baskin and I wrote the opening words to our book Tell the Truth we did so out of a strong sense that the marketing industry was not reacting fast enough to the enormous change in consumer expectations driven by the internet and smart phone access. 

We believed that the art of spin was becoming redundant and that the skewed positioning, that brands often resort to, worked fine when the brand’s voice was the only one speaking to consumers.   But in the Age of Dialogue, with social media on the ascent, the time for spin was over.  We said in closing : “in five years we’ll look back on the art of spin as an anachronism”.

Research presented by MediaCom’s Managing Partner Steve Gladdis and Real World Insight Director Pauline Robson at this week’s fourth Age of Dialogue conference showed that what they termed “The Marketing Truth Deficit” was concrete and urgent. 

At a lively and stimulating day (yes we did also have Lord Sugar as a speaker, but I think that would make a separate blog), Gladdis and Robson revealed that whilst 68% of the UK public say that it is important that companies tell the truth in their advertising only 34% do actually trust advertisers. 

A qualitative research study recently backed this up when the planners attending it were surprised to hear that the respondents all agreed that you couldn’t trust what ads said even if it was a factual claim on TV.

Perhaps we should not be surprised.  Trust in institutions, government and experts is lower than ever.  And the public is more likely to trust the opinion of a stranger who they think is “someone like me” than of anyone who they think is paid to say what they have said.

Not surprised then, but certainly spurred into action.  If you don’t know what to do about it here’s the book.