At the recent Advertising Club of New York's annual Magazine Day, Mark Ingall, director of global strategic media and global marketing for Citibank said, "The prediction for online is that it will spike pretty soon. Over time... that's going to weigh [in decisions], and we're going to have to turn our attention to something more traditional."
It is difficult to assess if Mr. Ingall made that comment because he really believes it or, since he was the keynote speaker for Magazine Day, he felt he should say something nice to an otherwise gloomy industry.
I was particularly stuck by his reference to "something more traditional." It implies that what the internet has brought to advertising is a passing fad, and that advertisers will be content to revert back to measures and metrics of ad performance they've struggled with for half a century. I think not. Mr. Ingall's "traditional" advertising leaves advertisers wondering if anybody really sees their ads and if they do, how do they react to them.
The interactivity of online has provided the advertising and marketing communities with a new paradigm that has changed forever the way that audiences will be sought, found and communicated with. Let's look at what I call Advertising's New Four Truths:
1. Online is interactivity
While the benefits of interactivity are self evident -- the ability to immediately engage target audiences with additional information (and perhaps an ecommerce opportunity) at the moment they seek it -- have we stopped to consider that with the internet, people now expect "immediate gratification" from their advertising? If you see an ad on TV or in a print publication and you want more information, you have to get up and take more action (probably, you'll go online for it). Maybe you have sunk too low in the sofa cushions to take that action right now, and you may forget to do it later. When you are online you are far more actively engaged, and more likely to move down that purchase funnel.
2. Online is visual
Mr. Ingall's traditional advertising can show you a car from one angle. Come to one of the sites in the Jumpstart network and we'll let you see it from 360 degrees-you can even climb in it and practically smell the new leather. We'll change the color for you with a mouse click, or let you put several models in the same class from different OEMs side by side so you can compare the features and the pricing. No one can deny the visual impact of a great auto ad on TV. But online enables true visualization that helps buyers make decisions.
3. Online is measurable
While I am the first to admit that the online industry could use some standards so that advertisers and their agencies can more easily compare vendors or site traffic, the internet is light years ahead of all other forms of advertising, which can only estimate audiences based on things like written diaries or people meters. Nothing compares with knowing exactly how many people clicked on your ad or watched your online video-or if people reacted better to one offer versus a second or third.
4. Online allows precision targeting
Most traditional media offer only the approximation of targeting, such as zip code data or demographics that may be based on an old reader survey that sampled only a small size of the true audience. I am the first to acknowledge that not all advertising seeks to reach a very precisely defined audience and that by casting a wider net, some advertiser hope to catch a few unexpected fish, but in this day of heavy pressure on marketing ROI, isn't it comforting to know that the internet can target as precisely as you want to define your target audience? Internet advertising takes the guesswork out of the game. By reaching consumers contextually or based on specific behaviors, advertising waste can be eliminated, and ROI can improve significantly.
Now that most of the world's major advertisers have had a taste of what online can offer, I seriously doubt that they will settle for "traditional media" much longer.
Early in 2007, MINI Cooper executed one of the most entertaining and creative campaigns that Ad Infuse saw across its network. By using mobile to complement its online webisode campaign called Hammer & Coop, BMW brand MINI Cooper was able to reinforce its campaign messages and reach the mobile public with entertaining, branded content. MINI took advantage of the rich format of mobile video and made the content available on Versaly's FastLane, a channel on Sprint TV's Lifestyle segment, and it also made a video podcast available with content publisher Mondo Media. This BMW MINI campaign was also awarded the "Mobile Campaign of the Year" by advertising agency Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners and continues to be an example of the possibilities of mobile in multi-format campaigns.
CoverGirl Cosmetics leveraged one of mobile's most important capabilities: targeting. The campaign's goal was to reach Hispanic and other females in the narrow age range of 18 to 24, in order to generate increased brand awareness for some of its specific product lines. This campaign successfully deployed WAP display ads across content partners on the Ad Infuse network that were targeted specifically to reach its young, female audience. In doing so, Ad Infuse was able to assist Brand In Hand in executing a campaign that would be ranked in the top third of all CoverGirl initiatives in 2007.
Dell opted to include mobile as a part of its campaign as a new and innovative way to connect with and build consumer awareness. Ad Infuse also assisted in creating an opt-in viewer database capture from Dell's WAP pages. The campaign was successfully structured to build awareness about its wireless capabilities and to increase sales for the Inspiron and XPS models of Dell notebooks.
In order to garner awareness and increase downloads for EA Mobile's Harry Potter mobile game, Ad Infuse applied two approaches that leveraged its rich media capabilities. The first was the creation of a first-ever clickable video podcast that used pre-roll advertising and enabled users to click to the Harry Potter splash page directly from the podcast. The second strategic tactic leveraged mobile social networking, a pastime quite popular among the younger target demographic for Harry Potter. Through Ad Infuse's partnership with AirG, a mobile social networking publisher, Ad Infuse was able to bring the Harry Potter campaign on-deck with Boost Mobile. These advertisements successfully directed mobile users to a download page where they were able to immediately access the mobile game. EA knew that its young target market is active on mobile and social networks and this campaign was designed specifically to reach them.
In looking back at some of the most inspired mobile campaigns of 2007, one naturally wonders where the industry is going in 2008 and beyond. The analysts are certainly calling for another exciting year, and industry predictions are still on the rise. The Kelsey Group predicts a 112 percent annual growth rate for wireless advertising in the U.S. market, from $33.2 million in 2007 to $1.4 billion by 2012. Likewise, ABI Research recently issued its own predictions -- expecting worldwide mobile marketing revenue to grow from $1.8 billion in 2007 to more than $24 billion in 2013.
Although the road is long to reach the post-2010 multibillion-dollar predictions, are we heading in the right direction? Can the industry live up to the hype? Ad Infuse says absolutely and here's how:
Small screen, big media
In 2008, with bigger brands entering the market, richer mobile media experiences will become increasingly important. Much of the market development to date has consisted of long-tail content publishers and advertisers running campaigns via SMS, text or WAP. These simply won't meet the needs of premium brands that want to establish visually engaging, innovative and overall great consumer experiences consistent with their brand image. While dipping a toe in safe waters is a standard entry strategy, the industry is consistently seeing advertisers return after "testing" with requests for much larger and more diverse mobile media campaigns. According to the Wave Eight Advertiser Perceptions Survey, which polled more than 2,000 advertisers on where their ad dollars would be focused, the area of highest-forecasted growth for mobile is video, whereas text and SMS show a declining growth rate.
A market in transition
Ad Infuse also predicts a significant shift in 2008 from the experimentation phase of mobile to higher spending levels, richer executions and dedicated lines of business. With the big brands going mobile and deploying larger and more integrated marketing campaigns both on- and off-deck, the operators too are rapidly moving beyond the tentative testing phase. Operators in several markets have been conducting trials for some time, and we are now seeing a growing interest in formal installation of ad delivery platforms and ad sales strategies. While the precise formula for paid, subscription and ad-supported models will continue to evolve, operators are developing, for the first time, internal revenue targets for mobile advertising, thus indicating the opportunity for on-deck inventory to really open up in 2008.
With all the right players in the market, 2008 will be the year the mobile ad industry really starts to experiment with targeting capabilities… and boundaries. Advertisers are used to planning most of their media dollars against some form of target, and as the story goes, the more targeted, the less wasted and the more effective. With the evolution of internet advertising, digital media was seen as an information goldmine. Not only were there myriad details to target against, but there was also the new ability to track and measure performance of nearly every dollar spent. Well, brands certainly won't be settling for anything less when it comes to mobile, and it goes without saying that on such a personal device, the target-able details will surely increase. Again, like the internet, mobile targeting is also a hotbed for privacy issues. While solutions providers like Ad Infuse are built to uphold privacy standards, as targeting capabilities mature, some companies are bound to take it too far and the percolating privacy concerns will indeed take center stage.
Mobile goes mainstream as the experience gets customized
Significant advancements continue to occur with mobile devices that allow consumers to fully customize everything from features to functionality. As multi-use, media-centric devices like the iPhone proliferate and improve, two things will happen simultaneously:
1) The digitally savvy consumer will come to expect no less than the best of everything available at their fingertips.
2) More and more creative minds will take on the challenge of innovating and integrating the mobile experience.
With the opening up of mobile devices to outside developers, we will continue to see a host of widgets and other such applications to customize and enhance overall mobile usage. With such evolution and significant personalization, more consumer needs will be met and the result will be overall increased adoption of the mobile web. Other developments, such as the continued convergence of on- and off-deck access to content, increasing availability of ad-supported and free media, further development of mobile social networking and community building, will also contribute to rapid growth in 2008. The concurrent progression of these elements will continue to make the mobile web a destination point for consumers across the globe, and in turn will fuel the growth of the mobile advertising industry at large.
With the combination of advancements in advertising and mobile technologies, 2008 is certainly shaping up to be an exciting year. And as the big brands look to reach consumers with targeted, multi-format mobile advertising campaigns, the real leaders in this industry will step up as mobile goes mainstream.
Matt Jacobs, AMP Agency
Brand: American Express
American Express' recent homepage redesign is a great example of designing with the user experience in mind. Based on the redesign, it's clear that the goal was to simplify the initial interaction with American Express, while highlighting the key areas of the site that drive most customers to visit -- accessing their account or getting information about American Express services.
What makes the new design better than the old one?The redesign applies a much cleaner design aesthetic, while still allowing American Express to merchandise key offers and services to its customer base through a rotating carousel.
In addition to visually restructuring the landing page, American Express also leveraged the redesign to update the following:
New online financial tools
- The brand reorganized and grouped its tools together in one place to make it easier for consumers to find what they're looking for.
- Keeping up with the times, American Express synched its site with apps available for Android and iPhone.
- The brand also improved the functionality of the site by updating features. For example, pending charges are now available within minutes of using a card to provide the most up-to-date account information.
While the rest of the site remains mostly untouched, the redesign significantly improved the user experience of logging into your account and/or accessing information about American Express. Kudos to their team for sticking with simplicity -- it's often an objective that's easily stated but hard to follow through on.
Matt Jacobs is director, strategic marketing, at AMP Agency.
David Clarke, BGT Partners
The current site is a fairly standard blog site with multimedia content and the ability to filter content. The new beta site takes advantage of dynamic scripting, and it socially infuses each page. It also provides a robust dynamic experience where the user is able to explore rich content from multiple sources without having to click on multiple pages. The majority of the content is connected to Facebook, which enables the user to easily share information without disrupting the experience.
What makes the new design better than the old one?
The redesigned site improves on its predecessor, thanks to the quality of the design and the comprehensive infusion of social components. The mega-menu allows you to dive deep into the site's content, and it provides relevant information based on user patterns. Instead of staying within the parameters of a standard drop-down, the content transforms the menus and provides a more dynamic user experience.
Josh Levine, Alexander Interactive
Brand: Action Envelope
Agency: Alexander Interactive
Any e-commerce website should be geared toward service -- both for the consumer and retailer. The new Action Envelope site, heavy in Ajax and DHTML functionality, included intuitive, dynamic menus that make it easy for shoppers to find and customize products.
A redesigned site should capitalize on tech advances, accommodate growth gracefully, and be flexible, while at the same time staying shopper-focused and invigorating the brand.
What makes the new design better than the old one?
- A direct browse-and-search interface
- A simple two-step process for online envelope design and printing makes it easier for customers to create exactly what they want
- A robust re-order center allows for fast purchases of previously placed orders
- A file upload center for easy graphics and logo embellishment
Josh Levine is founder and chief experience officer at Alexander Interactive.
Editor's Choice, iMedia Connection
The HBO.com redesign finally does justice to one of TV's most popular and recognizable premium channels. Known for its selective and stylish programming, HBO used its new site to showcase each show individually, while emphasizing what it is known for (documentaries, series, and sports) with large fonts and great space allocation.
What makes the new design better than the old one?
The main page serves as a giant billboard for whichever series or movie HBO is promoting at the time. Right now, its new series, "Game of Thrones," is featured in the background of the homepage with high-quality images from the show, reminding fans to check out the new episode without taking them away from other assets on the page. There is much less text than before, and better quality images and videos.
The bottom of the page, previously used for the standard "contact us" information, now has a mini video reel featuring HBO's most popular programs, followed by that night's television schedule. The new page is fresh and appeals to the average HBO viewer, and allows for appreciation of each show individually. It makes the previous web page look novice, which is exactly what a great website redesign can do.
Osas Obaiza is an editorial intern at iMedia Connection.
Kevin Casey, AMP Agency
Instead of talking about great new redesign in a medium where the best design either happens in an initial launch or in small increments over time, let's talk about the best website redesigner: the iPad app, Flipboard.
Facebook looks like a banking website. Twitter is sloppy. And your favorite blog is built on top of some atrocious free WordPress template. All of the best design out there is for one-off sites that you have no reason to go back to after that initial ogle. You want all of that sweet, sweet social media content, but your sensitive eyes can't take the horrors of sites designed as containers for constantly updated content instead of well-thought-out, inspirational, artistic design.
Enter Flipboard. Flipboard is an iPad app that takes all of your bland social media content and aggregates it into one beautiful gallery. Once you plug in all of your channels (like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or really any site with an RSS or social media feed), Flipboard greets you with a sexy grid of fresh content. Inside each channel, all of your posts are arranged in a classically magazine-like style in a serif font delicately balanced in beautiful white space. It makes your high school friend's posts about their baby's first birthday party actually look kind of classy.
Flipboard has been the biggest change in the way that I look at the web (and the iPad) this year, drastically reducing my disdain for social media channels and keeping me neck-deep in fresh, warm content all day long.
(Twitter and Facebook without Flipboard)
(Twitter and Facebook with Flipboard)
Kevin Casey is senior art director at AMP Agency.
Osas Obaiza is an editorial intern at iMedia Connection.
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Teens start the trends, but widespread adoption is around the corner
How many times have we heard that a trend is "only for kids" or "not for the broader population"? Social networking, video games, even digital in general was thought to be a young person's medium that didn't reach other demographics. But every time we say this, the other demographics do follow suit. This chart is possibly the most telling of any that try to communicate the media consumption pattern shifts we're about to experience.
While the major players in TV have been forewarned, signs of these changes are all around us and have been present for years. The question is: Are we going to pay attention or keep doing things the same way we always have?
If the way we've treated DVR penetration is any sign, we're in trouble. I worked in traditional media during the rise of the DVR. And what did the industry do? We introduced the Live+3 and Live+7 metric, meaning that if a viewer watched the DVR'd program within three or seven days (depending on the advertiser's contract with the network), full viewership still counted. Yep, even if the ad was likely skipped via DVR, as long as the program itself was viewed within three or seven days, it counted in full. Crazy!
In addition to the chart above, Netflix is in more than 36 percent of households and is ad free. Amazon Prime is a distant second and is ad free. Even Hulu, despite its low reach, is now offering an ad-free option. Marketers simply must change their video-buying behavior because while it's the 18 to 24 crowd for now, they age, and these patterns will clearly become widespread.
The decline of the TV industrial complex
This trend is so important and large that it's really more than one trend on its own. No medium garners a greater share of spend or press attention than TV and, as a result, marketers are struggling mightily with how to deal with this new reality. When parents have a child go off to college for the first time, it's natural for them to continue behaving as if the child were still at home, calling their name for dinner or instinctively assuming they'll spend Friday nights monitoring curfew. It takes a while to break this habit, and marketers' relationship with TV is no different.
As annual planning time comes around again, marketers will put a gigantic amount of money into a medium whose viewership is simply not there anymore -- at least not to the level it's being funded. So many marketers look at a media flowchart without flights of 150 TRPs/week as incomplete and unsatisfactory. It's the same as wondering why the door isn't opening at 4 p.m. each weekday as your child, who is now off to college, should be walking through the door. Just like the parents that need to come to terms with the fact that the relationship and schedule they had with their child will never be the same, TV will never be what it was -- all-dominant, must-buy-first, and the heart of every strong media plan.
Traditional media outlets: Left out or paying to be included in the "new" news
Your first impression of BuzzFeed may have been similar to mine. "It's that site that has quizzes and lists that people post on Facebook." But BuzzFeed, Vox, and other "new" news outlets are serious business. So serious that Comcast/NBC has invested in both to make sure it has a stake in properties where consumers are parking their eyeballs. But the news world is much larger than Comcast/NBC, and other publishers and content owners will be left out in the cold. Forbes, a decades-old brand, is now only slightly ahead of newcomer Business Insider in global and U.S. rank. As a marketer, it's important to frequently revisit which sites are the best places to reach your audience, regardless of your perceptions about them from years ago.
Cash still isn't trackable
With mobile wallets and payments getting significant news attention in the past few years, marketers have quickly jumped with excitement at the opportunity to track ROI from the ad impression all the way through to the payment. Certainly this is exciting, but it's a highly biased data set for now, skewing younger and not yet widely adopted.
While marketers seem to be behind on other trends, they're often ahead -- and too far ahead -- of trends that enable measurement.
Imagine the CMO at a quick-service restaurant chain, convenience store chain or gas station. Mobile payments will eventually be a big deal for you, but right now so much business is done with cash transactions that it's important not to dismiss the cash transactions and their likely link to advertising in an effort to make your media 100 percent measurable. The full picture can be modeled fairly well with enough data, but make sure you're doing the modeling and not just relying on the data you have in-hand!
The sharing economy equals the modular agency?
Airbnb and Uber have sparked what many call the sharing economy, the concept being that when an individual can give up part of what s/he owns, or use it to provide a service for others, both benefit. With $26 billion in media up for review over this past summer, it seems marketers are missing out on an important trend that should have shaped the results of these reviews. (Note, this isn't a consumer trend, but it is a trend so important and relevant to the other consumer trends covered here that it bears inclusion.)
While each of these reviews isn't yet final, the majority of us can predict what will happen fairly easily. Large marketers will shift their account from one large holding company to another with the new one promising more transparency and better results. But in the end, little will have really changed. Marketers are still using the pre-sharing economy model of partnering with ad agencies. Marketers may be behind in this cycle, but they won't be forever. This is because smaller and nimbler agencies are recognizing there is something to this sharing economy thing, although it's more appropriately called "modular" for their world.
Let's forget about being a full-service agency for a moment and focus on just being a full-service digital agency. This means bringing expertise in paid, earned and owned social, SEM (multi-channel/platform), web dev, web design, UI/UX, conversion rate optimization, site-side analytics, publisher-direct paid media, programmatic media, RTB, SEO, and a host of others that didn't just hit the top of my head. Not only does the agency need to be an expert in each of these areas, but it needs to be an expert at coordinating and bringing them all together -- a separate and important expertise within itself. Ad Age began exploring this, but I am personally seeing it on the ground. It's real. The smartest agencies are focusing on four things right now: 1) owning the overall strategy, 2) owning the client relationship, 3) finding the very best experts in each discipline, and 4) being nimble to stay ahead of their clients. This trend will change our world.
Closing the gap
Read any behavioral economics book and you quickly see how the brain plays tricks on us. Our view of the world is "right on point" regardless of how far ahead or behind we are. Instead of trusting your gut, check your perspective against the data and those who regularly make good predictions. Use this to close the gap between your assumed reality and actual reality. Your ROI depends on it.
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"Hand drawn TREND design word on front of business man feet" image via Shutterstock.