“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 winter.
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 had thought."
"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 advertising's salvation?
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 there.
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- zapping capabilities.
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 site.
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 already.
Much of this is due to old silo-ed systems, whether they be marketers in separate departments or customers in separate metrics databases.
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 exact.
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 themselves.
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.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles of this website are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect in any way the views of MarketingSherpa, its affiliates, or its employees.