Tom Hespos is President of New York agency Underscore Marketing. He is a frequent contributor to industry trade publications and has been writing a regular column about online marketing and advertising since March of 1998. His clients include Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, The MathWorks, and Pitney Bowes. Tom started his career at Young & Rubicam in 19... more
Over the years, countless devices have attempted to combine TV viewing and interactive features. Have device manufacturers nailed it with the latest round of feature-rich TVs?
Can the big marketing questions ever really be answered in general terms? Here's an exploration of the social network Quora and the answers it's building for marketers.
Do WikiLeaks, net neutrality, and consumer privacy have anything to do with one another? Marketers might think about one or two of these, but the U.S. government is wrestling with all three.
When site users become aware of how much it costs to run a good website, they start to defend online advertising. Here's why sites might want to start disclosing their monetization strategies.
What prevents an agency or advertiser from retargeting or gathering data improperly when it places a buy with a publisher? Not much, and here's why we need to start policing these practices.
Do advertisers really feel at ease when it comes to DSPs? Underscore Marketing's president looks at some misconceptions about the sector.
Adding your remnant inventory to more ad networks means more exposure to opportunity, right? Here's how this can backfire.
Nielsen made a major announcement this week about combining digital and offline metrics. But what is the role of its new measurement methodology in the planning process?
When the net neutrality dust settles, what effect will it have on marketers? Here are some potential outcomes.
Email, graphical web browsing, streaming media, social networking -- these all changed the game in their own way. Here's why the app ecosystem belongs on that list.
As the digital ad industry looks to avoid federal privacy regulation, it seems fixated on three things that aren't going to matter when it comes to deciding matters.
Only a handful of digital representation firms are still in existence today, yet ad networks abound. Is it time to bring back this business model?
If our industry wants to have compelling ad targeting offerings to rely on, we need to at least give self-restraint a try. Here are some questionable data practices.
Exchanges, real-time bidding, ad verification services -- all of these things can contribute to hung pages. Here's why external servers are wreaking havoc on ad delivery, and why you should care.
What's going to happen to the industry when brand protection companies show advertisers where their ads are showing up? Here's a forecast.
If you run an online community, you probably spend more time dealing with trolls than you like. Here's how to avoid them by understanding what motivates their behavior.
Foursquare has nailed its growth strategy, now it's time to add a component that makes the product more compelling and adds a revenue stream to boot.
Google's ad model is nothing short of genius, but it caused cataclysmic change within the advertising world. Here's why.
Ad networks concentrate so much of their sales efforts on getting an insertion order. But what can they do to differentiate themselves after getting a buy?
What's in a brief? Without one, we often spin our wheels trying to answer impossible questions. Here's how to avoid a misfire.
When is retargeting appropriate, and when can it be harmful to campaigns? Here's why the key consideration is the consumer's perception of appropriateness.
The data ownership question is a sticky one. Business models hang in the balance, and apparently the IAB and the AAAA have an answer. But is it the right one?
Retirees don't necessarily want internet everywhere. Teens don't need much more than voice and text. So what does that mean for mass-appeal mobile devices?
Service is the name of the game for many undifferentiated ad networks out there. Here are a few things they can do to stand apart and really shine.
The impact of agency-side audience development platforms has left industry stakeholders wondering whether supporting them is the right thing to do. Here are the questions we need to be asking ourselves.
How would the digital marketing world look if the U.S. government took away our ability to use third-party cookies for marketing purposes? Here's why this could create chaos.
The digital disruption has caused significant upheaval in the business-to-business category. Here's what B2B advertisers and publishers need to do to survive.
With myriad targeting options available from ad networks, who's making sure they're all implemented properly? Employ these integrity checks to ensure your buy is handled correctly.
It's easy to get worn down when trying to evaluate all the latest trends and innovations in social media. Here are some tips for avoiding a marketer meltdown.
Believe it or not, some of the simple things we do to protect brands in offline media are not easily implemented in the digital realm. Here's what to look for.
An upcoming ad:tech panel will deal with the role of the modern agency. But will they discuss the serious moral issues that are becoming more relevant as agencies restructure to compete?
Are you a direct response advertiser who seems stuck in an endless "test and refine" cycle with your media buys? Here's why you're stuck.
The IAB streamlined the way media buyers and sellers do business. But times have changed. Here's why we need to update our industry's Terms & Conditions.
Consumer packaged goods marketers are coming around on digital, but many have a long way to go in their evolutions. If you're not exploring these strategies, you're at risk of falling behind.
Sean Cummings' Aug. 20 article blasting agencies was an eye-opener. But many of his arguments can be used to prove why agencies are still so important.
As digital professionals, we must figure out how to tell marketers what their competitors are doing online and achieve acceptance of a universal model.
A recent article in Ad Age deemphasized the role of social media in pharmaceutical marketing. Here's why the author is just plain wrong.
Social media success requires a good deal of trial and error. But there are some clear-cut paths to embarrassment that you need to avoid. Here they are.
Across the digital marketing landscape, agencies are beginning to look more like ad networks. But how far can agencies take the model before they cross ethical borders?
Here's why agencies shouldn't be picked on for not using particular social media tactics themselves, and why Ad Age has it all wrong.
If we want to fix agency compensation, we have to pay agencies for the job we want them to do, not for something else. Here's why.
In this challenged economy, it's tempting to slash ad budgets by a given percentage and renegotiate all your digital ad contracts. Here's why this can be dangerous.
Is it time for marketers and data companies to consider another standard for what data can be collected on consumers? Here's how to avoid another backlash.
In the era of social networking, do the old ways of targeting advertising result in the same level of effectiveness? Here's how to leverage social connections for better ad targeting.
I understand the differences between commercial speech and political speech, and that undisclosed corporate shilling is a problem. But do I think the government should have dominion over online product recommendations?
We need to find a better way of measuring the effectiveness of ad networks. Here are three reasons why the system isn't currently working.
If all these people adopting smartphones simply used them the same way as their computers, marketing on the iPhone would be easy. But they don't, and it's not. Here's why.
Is Twitter the latest narcissistic invention of the "Me" generation? Or is there more to it? Here are some reasons why Twitter is more important than marketers realize.
Here we are at the end of the first quarter of 2009, and we still don't see conversational marketing as a line item in most marketing budgets. What happened?
Lots of online ad salespeople can promise you exactly the audience you're looking to target. But what happens when you dig deeper into how they're targeting ads?
When economic declines hit, advertisers often adopt a more direct response-oriented stance with their ad campaigns. It's important to know there's a right way to switch objectives midstream and a wrong way.
In light of recent news articles concerning its true worth, how can Facebook even approach the valuation put forth after an investment by Microsoft? Here's some back-of-the-napkin math.
The key to a long-term relationship with a marketer may depend in part on an agency's involvement and contribution to the client's budgeting process.
While it's true that publishers can discern certain facts about web users based on things like surfing behavior, is it the publisher's exclusive realm to own those facts?
Even though big-budget Super Bowl ads aren't necessarily rational in this day and age, they are still the most effective way to ensure that people will be talking about your ad campaign the day after.
Some digital proposals that seem like lay-ups aren't. Underscore Marketing's president looks at why so many unsolicited proposals are off-strategy.
Gawker's CEO is battening down the hatches for an extended recession and a big decline in digital ad revenue. Is he overreacting? Underscore Marketing's president calls Nick Denton out on his reasoning.
While the pundits may be singing a similar tune when it comes to digital advertising's immediate future, here are a few points they may not have considered.
Most U.S. brands will not roll back their entire marketing spend for 2009. Thus, the game becomes one of allocating dollars to channels that have a shot at delivering short-term sales.
A wide variety of legal constraints can affect what your digital media plan recommends. Here's what to keep in mind when dodging regulatory hurdles.
It's not enough for marketers to know that something performs well -- they need to know why it performs well. In this regard, it's crucial that our industry not repeat its past mistakes.
We often think of digital as fulfilling specific roles, yet new roles are emerging continuously. Underscore Marketing's president describes the institutional inertia our industry faces.
An increasing number of people are falling into media potholes, where they can't be reached via traditional media. Here's what that means for you.
With a new administration on the way, what does the future hold for the digital business? Here are some suggestions for the new president and vice president.
Does the ever-expanding sea of ad:tech exhibitors foretell a healthy digital marketing industry? It does, but maybe not in the way you think. Underscore Marketing's president explains.
Has pay-per-click put the digital advertising industry in jeopardy? Depending on how much of that traffic comes from things like botnets, it's a poor measure of success. Here's why.
Economic pressures, coupled with a widespread need on the part of marketers to solve the digital puzzle, will force marketers to make some interesting moves. Underscore Marketing's president looks to the future.
What strategic moves will help digital preserve (or even increase) market share during a recession? Underscore Marketing's president postulates.
The growth of digital display is being held back. Here's what needs to happen if the industry wants to open the floodgates.
The digital ad industry has placed a lot of effort behind innovating within the process of planning and buying. Here's what needs to be delivered with the next wave of planning and buying tools.
The mobile landscape is changing rapidly. If you haven't already scheduled a meeting to talk about your brand's utility with your marketing stakeholders, do it now.
Having a presence in the social space is a time commitment. But how do you avoid social media overload, and is there a third option that streamlines the networking process?
When it comes to doing business with ad networks, media planners have plenty of issues. But what about the relatively minor gripes? Underscore Marketing's president lays out a few of the "little" issues.
What does digital need in order to get to parity with broadcast reach and frequency metrics? Here are four areas where we come up short.
Once again, the release of a new browser heralds the arrival of anonymous, cookie-free web surfing. What can marketers do to keep their online ad campaigns from going haywire?
Digital has great localization technology that gets better every day. But a few things need to happen in order for it to fulfill the role of a true spot medium. Here's why.
The back-to-school season isn't just for kids. Now is the time for marketers to get a leg up against the competition and shake off the end-of-summer blues.
Running an online community means occasionally having to deal with the anti-social antics of trolls. Underscore Marketing's president lays out a plan for keeping the peace.
How important is the decision to lift the injunction against Cablevision's central storage-based DVR system? Underscore Marketing's president explores the issue.
Marketers sometimes lose sight of the role BT plays in their integrated plans. Underscore Marketing's president examines why this happens and how to stay on track.
Online communities often confuse their users by offering too many features. Here's how to develop a platform with what users really need.
Facebook users are on guard against marketing-heavy applications. Underscore Marketing's president offers some tips for launching an application that users will embrace, not reject.
The rising cost of travel has made location-based services like online maps more valuable to the consumer. Underscore Marketing's president examines what this might mean for your brand.
Behavioral targeting can play a special role for products and services where need is dictated by life stage. Here's how you might carve out a role for BT in your organization.
Could classic ad campaigns have benefitted from social media? Underscore Marketing's president looks at how things might have been in advertising's heyday.
With ad networks falling out of favor with content sites, has the end finally arrived? Underscore Marketing's president reads the tea leaves.
Getting an ad to go viral is no easy feat. Here are some pointers on what it takes to get your ad picked up by the masses.
Underscore Marketing's president explains how targeting smarter and engaging consumers not only will get brands noticed but also can save them money.
You have a product launch coming up and success or failure depends on how far your limited ad budget can spread the word. Here's a new way to evaluate your media spend.
When it comes to defining certain online measures, we need a consensus. But when it comes to defining engagement, one size does not fit all.
Success in mobile social networking will come for online marketers when they learn to make investments in the user's flow experience.
Who is delivering the behavioral targeting goods and who is just paying lip service? Underscore Marketing's president shows you how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Consolidation in the industry and the increased importance of quality audience data is again raising privacy issues. Can first-party cookies help keep data private?
Recent news stories have begged the question: Just how many ad networks should there be? Underscore Marketing's president explores the limits inherent in ad networks.
Are sweepstakes enthusiasts and low-income tire kickers the only people clicking on ad network banners these days? Underscore Marketing's president explores this idea.
Underscore Marketing's president thinks social media aggregators may have the answer to the platform's scale and relevance issues. See why.
As a media buyer, you really have to dive into the weeds to find out how ads are being targeted. But understanding BT methodology pays handsome dividends.
There have been recent predictions concerning advertising's future if a recession hits. Underscore Marketing's president offers some predictions of his own.
Mobile must be woven into multiple media touchpoints in order to succeed as an ad platform. AdMob weighs in.
Is it really necessary for all marketers to settle on a common definition of engagement? Here's a breakdown of the issue.
With constant, disruptive change as the mantra of AOL's advertising sales organization, will AOL ever achieve its full potential?
We've become quite accustomed to the neutral internet. Telecoms and ISPs, however, could threaten to upset that apple cart. Here's the threat to digital marketers.
The investment community makes a lot of fuss over ad exchanges, yet agency buyer reaction to them has been lukewarm at best. Here are some of the top problems exchanges need to address.
Will widget marketing be a sustainable tactic, or will it become less useful? Underscore Marketing's president examines the paths widget marketing can take as it comes to a crossroads.
One of digital media buying's core standards needs significant updating. Underscore Marketing's president discusses issues with the IAB/AAAA Terms & Conditions.
Speculation about Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo is running rampant all over the news media and the blogosphere. Underscore Marketing's president tries to make sense of it all.
With TV advertisers facing challenging economic times, Underscore Marketing's president offers an online alternative.
The Super Bowl might be one of the last remaining shared media moments in broadcast, but it shouldn't command such premium pricing. Underscore Marketing's president explores online alternatives.
Demographic targeting represents an antiquated and inadequate method for targeting media. It's time we moved on. The president of Underscore Marketing explains why.
There's an upswing in mobile content consumption, but does this increase in consumption necessarily translate into advertising opportunities? Underscore Marketing's president casts a suspicious eye.
Why can't a room filled with specialist marketers from different disciplines ever produce a great integrated idea? Underscore Marketing's president relates some wisdom.
Working with integrated sales groups sounds easy in principle, but all sorts of issues rear their ugly heads when buyers work with sellers in a cross-media capacity.
Immediacy of market feedback is a big selling point for digital media. But how long will it be before interactive-based research can deliver actionable feedback on integrated campaigns?
Asking the right questions about your online direct marketing campaign can help manage risk, but not all questions can be answered without thorough testing.
What can an ad network do to make itself stand out in a sea of undifferentiated companies? Underscore Marketing's president has some ideas.
Underscore Marketing's president questions the platform's significance, and wonders about social networking's future course.
Microsoft may have won the battle for Facebook, but it may not realize what that win means for the online marketing business.
Looking for a cheap (free) way to dip your toe in the social media waters? Underscore Marketing's president shares some pointers.
Assuming too much about your relationship with your newsletter subscribers can get you into trouble. Underscore Marketing's president explains how to sidestep problems.
Why can't anyone bring television and the internet together in a meaningful way? Underscore Marketing's president gets to the heart of the issue.
So many things tend to fall through the cracks when more than one agency is involved in a project. Here's how to avoid getting stuck at a disadvantage.
If you don't understand what widget marketing can do for your business, drop what you're doing and take five minutes to read this. Underscore Marketing's president explains.
M&A fever has infected the online advertising industry once again, but do the latest acquisitions make sense? Underscore Marketing's president sheds some light on the situation.
The keying of external purchase data profiles has opened up new options for evaluating online advertising. What does this mean for your brand?
The online experience is an important extension of a brand's cornerstone values. But some brands are still not projecting the image they need to.
How local is local? There are big differences between DMA heavy-ups for national or regional advertisers and campaigns for local retailers. Here's why.
Everywhere media professionals turn, research companies are publishing studies overstating American consumption of offline media. How long will this continue?
Demand for pre-roll video is boosting the cost. Fear not. Underscore Marketing's president has a solution for video-hungry advertisers.
Underscore Marketing's president explains how recent M&As are delivering on promises made to media buyers during the first dotcom boom.
Delivery of basic online campaigns can be evaluated against simple demographic audiences, but we're a long way off from an audience-based currency in online media.
Developing creative in a vacuum is never easy, but here are some tips on making the process friction-free.
Underscore Marketing's president flips many of the tested axioms of media planning upside down.
Overtargeting isn't just a scale problem, it's a complex issue that owes its existence to a number of industry challenges.
Sleepless nights are part of any media planner's regimen during planning cycles, but what about the stuff that keeps us up the rest of the time?
Without certain standards, online advertising would return to its Wild West roots. Underscore Marketing's president explains the danger.
With so many advertisers stuck in Behavioral Marketing 101, Underscore Marketing's president explains how to take advantage of BT's strengths.
Is the expert advice of advertising agencies as irreplaceable as they believe? Underscore Marketing's president explores a dark potential future for the ad business.
Doug Weaver asks organizations to decide whether they're transactional players or "marketecture" organizations. But is it really that clear-cut?
UnderScore Marketing's president explains how to listen to your users' comments and bring them to bear on your business.
Recent mergers and acquisitions in the media buying industry over the past month have the potential to shake the very ground on which we stand.
With the industry’s insistence on measuring media delivery via reach, frequency and GRPs against demographic targets, behavioral targeting can get overlooked. Underscore Marketing’s president explains why it shouldn't.
Straying from "the deck" can keep your mobile marketing campaign from realizing its full potential. But will it always be this way? Underscore Marketing's president thinks not and explains why.
Has the Google/DoubleClick acquisition left you with a flurry of questions? Here are some important issues and variables to consider.
Underscore Marketing's president shows how bid-driven exchanges for online inventory are more relevant today than they've ever been.
Underscore Marketing's president outlines the do's and don'ts of establishing brand presence through desktop apps.
One thing that causes interactive stumbles is a failure to understand how online and offline media consumption differ. Underscore Marketing's president helps you keep your footing.
Underscore Marketing's president shows how to get your email message across without brand backlash.
Web analytics tools can focus your web strategies in many useful ways, but they can also lead marketers down the wrong path.
Learn the techniques replacing this standard measurement tool, and how they can improve your analytics.
How do we keep the systems we've adopted for managing campaign proposals from stifling media innovation? Underscore Marketing's president offers some solutions.
You've heard about the new virtual realities, and you're thinking about creating a presence there, but should you? Underscore Marketing's president shares the six questions you need to ask before plunging into Second Life.
Underscore Marketing's president shares five tips for getting the most from social media.
Agency compensation on the interactive media side hasn't conformed well to traditional models. Underscore Marketing's president explains why, and explores the notion of getting paid for strategic thinking rather than for execution.
With the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft will bring widgets to the masses. Don't know what a widget is? Underscore Marketing's president explains what they are and the opportunities for your brand.
Don't have $2.6 million for a Super Bowl spot? That doesn't mean you need to sit on the sidelines. Underscore Marketing's president shows you how to capitalize on the Big Game without shelling out the big bucks.
Ad management companies complain that media planners don't take the time to learn how new technologies can save time and money. Underscore Marketing's president explains.
Underscore Marketing's president offers insight into the mind of buyers and what they look for when considering adding networks to their buys.
For the mobile market, advertisers have to employ special optimization techniques to make their ads mobile-friendly. Underscore Marketing's president looks at the mobile future with an eye toward process.
Technology is making it easier to bucket your site's users and market to them more effectively. Underscore Marketing's president shows you the nuts and bolts.
Many major brands are still struggling to determine interactive's share of their overall media budget. Underscore Marketing's president shares some methods for getting down to brass tacks.
The FTC's recent staff opinion might cast the legality of paid blogging programs in the U.S. in a questionable light. Underscore Marketing's president discusses what this opinion means for marketers.
Use these tips to get results without wasting too much time defining behavioral segments.
It's NOT too late to tweak your media and search campaigns to get the most out of the last shopping days before the winter holidays. Underscore Marketing's president has some tips to boost your marketing ROI.
Underscore Marketing's president explains how to structure an ad network deal to get the most reach for your campaign.
Underscore Marketing's president shares three tips for integrating your online brand conversations with the rest of your marketing programs.
Take a look at brands that are engaging consumers with direct dialogue, and what you need to know for a successful blogging program.
If 20 percent of your customers drag down your company's profitability, can you use behavioral targeting to avoid showing these people your ads? Underscore Marketing's president has the story.
If 20 percent of your customers drag down your company's profitability, can you use behavioral targeting to avoid showing these people your ads? Underscore Marketing's president has the story.
Underscore Marketing's president takes on the PayPerPost brouhaha, and explains why the company is bad for all blogging.
Real conversations can get negative, and so can conversational marketing. Underscore's president tells us about what AccuQuote did when it happened to them.
Want to know what an effective engagement with Conversational Marketing looks like? Underscore Marketing's president points to B2B.
Conversational marketing and word-of-mouth marketing are different; if you think they're the same, then you suffer under broadcast thinking's corrupting influence. Underscore Marketing's president explains.
The retail giant has received several black eyes for how it has disingenuously engaged with social media. So what SHOULD Wal-Mart do? Underscore Marketing's president has sound advice.
Don't know where to start when you've decided it's time to look for a new ad management solution? Underscore's president shows you the way.
You know there's a conversation about your brand happening out there online, but you don't know where to go to listen. Underscore's president shows you the way.
Are you guilty of these common mistakes that may be killing your ROI? Find out in this must-read column.
Underscore Marketing's president talks about the difference between declared and observed data, and how that can affect your geotargeting.
If you think trafficking 10 creative executions to 20 different sites is difficult today, you should have tried it in 1995, before the advent of commercial ad serving.
Despite piracy issues, music online continues to gain popularity. Value and business smarts will triumph over scare tactics in the continuing saga of downloadable tunes.
Today there is enough research completed demonstrating the value of online advertising to re-sod a football field. Here’s a look at what’s available and what’s to come.
Where there is fanatical devotion, there is an opportunity for passionate two-way communication. And where there is an opportunity for that, there is a role for the Internet.
For many products and services, it’s cheaper and more fruitful to mine an existing customer base for incremental sales than it is to spend money finding new customers.
Although most of the entertainment industry has embraced the Internet, the music category has struggled to adapt its current business model to take advantage of the Net.
The Internet has become an important research tool for marketers because it can quickly accumulate an audience of significant size and aggregate the data literally over night.
Although it offers great potential, wireless marketing is still in an infancy stage with early adopters mainly using it right now to compliment other digital efforts.
With innovative ad technologies being criticized for enabling intrusiveness, how do publishers provide a pleasant user experience while accommodating their advertisers?
Entertainment is big business for which advertising its products is essential. And the Internet is becoming an increasingly essential medium by which to do so.
There’s no doubt e-mail is a cheap, effective marketing tool. But can it be salvaged from the spammers and rerouted past blocking software for continued success?
Reaching the computer & technology audience means using a combination of traditional and interactive messages that fit the consumer’s lifestyle and purchasing process.
Bristol-Myers Squibb used an integrated campaign that included banner ads, e-mails and an online sweepstakes to help launch a new prescription product for women.
Innovative technologies are making it possible to communicate product attributes online, as well as enabling effective marketing strategies.
B2B advertisers have been slow to move to Internet advertising. But the Web's narrowcasting ability holds potential for these marketers.
The company redesigned its site to expedite ordering, and promoted the site with special offers and with e-mail marketing. The efforts have increased sales and reduced costs.
Telecommunications companies have various channels through which to connect with their consumers. In this Q & A, we look at how DDBQ helped Qwest utilized these multiple channels to market its products to its customers.
With the availability of third-generation wireless services, telecommunications companies now have the opportunity market their services to consumers in a new way, focusing on applications, connectivity and functionality, instead of trying to sell the most amount of minutes for the least amount of dollars.
A movie’s success depends on the ability to drive awareness and interest around it’s release. To help pump excitement for “Spy Game,” Universal Studios launched an online campaign utilizing a mix of online marketing techniques.
Web savvy consumers demand engaging, entertaining content from advertisers. Entertainment content is so crucial to the success of a web site and can help advertisers dazzle their audience.
A sweepstakes promotion built around the Jimmy Neutron character generated site traffic and time spent with brand – not to mention sales.
In 2000, sans the release of a new vehicle, BMW did some pure branding by developing BMW Films – online-only shorts supported by other media. The efforts saw stellar results.
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1 The best social media campaigns of 2014 (so far)
2 9 Facebook hacks that will blow your mind
3 Blogs every marketer should follow
4 The most meaningless (and hilarious) job titles on LinkedIn
5 7 deadly myths about big data