Jun 23, 2003
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“I haven’t been to a conference in two years; I wanted to see
what’s new. I thought online advertising was almost dead. Boy,
was I wrong!” One AD:TECH attendee said.
In fact, the show felt like springtime after a long hard economic
Ticket sales were up three-fold over last June's show. The
phrase, "It feels like 1999 again," was flung about by almost
everyone, meaning an alive economy. We even overheard comments
in the women's room on the high quality of men attending,
"They're cute, and they have jobs too."
When thousands of online ad people converge in one place, what do
they talk about (aside from each other)?
a. Junk email
b. Search marketing: billions of clicks (and dollars)
c. Hot stuff on horizon: TIVO, Mobile, Local
d. Getting your agency to play the integrated game
e. Relationship marketing
-> a. Junk email
Even keynoter Reggis McKenna said, "I go away for 3 days and I
come back and have as many as 900 junk emails. It’s awful.”
MSN's Director Brand & Communications Anthony Rodio revealed that
junk email is such a consumer hot button that Microsoft "had to
reshoot the 'butterfly' TV commercials after the first week
because test groups showed spam was more important than anyone
"When they added a commercial that featured info about MSN 8's
spam-blocking ability, the new ad had a 40% greater impact."
-> b. Search marketing: billions of clicks (and dollars)
“We’ve been sending out these vast amounts of email to try to
drive sales, but I know what we really need to do is to focus on
our search marketing efforts. So I’m attending almost all of the
search marketing sessions.” Attendee overheard in hallway.
By far, the search marketing speakers and exhibitors got the
lion's share of attention from attendees at the show. It was hot
last year, it is even hotter now.
Is the trend reaching an upper limit?
Overture, for one, does not think so. Senior VP Bill Demas
boasted, "Here are some overall facts on the search market for
us: it was at $1 billion in 2001. 2003 will be a $2.5 billion
year. We are estimating that over the next four years it will
build to a $7-8 billion business."
Google's Senior VP Omid Kordestani added, "This is going to take
a bite out of the $350 billion DM market."
When everyone was badmouthing banners in 2000, who could have
guessed little tiny PPC text-ads would be part of online
By the way, Overture said their average cost per click is $.40
and LookSmart mentioned theirs was $.17.
-> c. Hot stuff on the horizon: TiVo, Mobile, local
While there were some good mobile marketing speakers and
exhibitors, very few of the attendees we questioned said they
were planning on investing in mobile for US-based campaigns this
or next year, no matter how big it is in Europe and Asia.
However, loads of people mentioned pros and cons of TiVo, even
though as of April 30th 2003 the US only has 703,000 TiVo
subscribers, compared to the millions of cell phones and PDAs out
Bob DeSena, Director of Relationship Marketing for M&M brands,
raved about how he sees TiVo changing the face of broadcast TV
advertising because a new, stricter measurement will help make
broadcast ad dollars more accountable.
Peter Sealey, former head of marketing at Coca-Cola said they are
"moving away from broadcast TV ads" partly due to TiVo's ad-
Aside from the TiVo debate, one thing many agreed on is that
online advertising itself is going local in a big way.
The search engines are working on ways to present results that
make sense based on your location. "You want to be able to
search for pizza in your neighborhood," said Overture's Demas.
Local businesspeople (including branches of national chains)
are eager to take advantage of online ads they have been hearing
about for years now. However, the one thing that does not spring
to mind for many of them is advertising on a local newspaper
It is as if in many people's minds offline and online media are
such different animals that they can not be the same companies.
-> d. Getting your agency to play the integrated game
We heard members of both sides, agencies and clients,
complaining that the other side is not integrated enough.
Basically everyone knows you should be running integrated
campaigns for maximum results, whether direct sales or branding.
However, few are truly ready to take the next step and integrate
Much of this is due to old silo-ed systems, whether they be
marketers in separate departments or customers in separate
Bruce Carlisle, CEO SF Interactive and Courtey Buechert, GM
McCann San Franscisco, both agreed the biggest tussles any
integrated team have are about money and power.
Buechert radically suggested that you set up an integrated team
with one member per discipline around a round table. Each member
gets one seat, and one vote. Even if 80% of your budget goes
to TV, TV only gets one vote.
Well, that is one way to get folks to listen to each other.
Carlisle warned that many agencies still outsource much of their
interactive work without necessarily telling the client. A
subcontractor will not have as much power as a regular agency exec,
and even less if the client can never meet with them. Make sure
if there is a step-child situation that that subcontractor is
invited openly to all meetings.
-> e. Relationship marketing
"One of the mistakes marketers make is to change the creative
before the consumer is ready for it to change. Marketers get
bored with creative long before the consumers do," noted Mars
Inc's Bob DeSena.
This can happen especially online where advertisers can change
creative so quickly and easily that they are often tempted to do
so more than they should.
Although your beautiful new creative may be the center of your
universe, it turns out that when consumers do talk about brands
online, they rarely mention your ads.
What do consumers notice most about your brand? According to
Peter Blackshaw, Chief Marketing Officer at PlanetFeedback,
people mostly talk about people. Your brand's employees to be
When a consumer has a great or terrible experience with your
customer service department or retail staff, instead of telling
nine friends verbally as they would have in days of yore, now
they may post their comments online for thousands to see.
Blackshaw noted that McDonalds is infamous for drawing a lot of
negative online feedback on its employees, while Southwest
Airlines gets applause for positive feedback.
He calls this Consumer Generated Media. Because of this, while
many offline brands take their time deciding on their online
presence, it is already being decided for them by consumers
The Web is not a blank slate waiting for your ad campaign to
inform it about your brand. Consumers are talking about you, and
if you have not already, it is time for you to join the discussion.