Finding an online stock quote or sports score only takes seconds. It's what happens next that takes some time. Type a search, click a link and read the numbers. But why just read the score when you can watch highlights from the game, read a play-by-play account, listen to interviews and check the team's blog for news on your favorite player. And don't stop at the quote when you can run a real-time stock ticker along the bottom of the screen and watch video from the last quarter's earnings announcement while listening to an analyst podcast.
Ten minutes later you know what brand of detergent your favorite team uses in the locker room and that January looks like a bad month for pork belly futures and you haven't even come close to scratching the mind-boggling amount of content available online. Any information in every format is available with the click of a mouse. Consumers have more choices than ever before and the options are growing exponentially.
The awesome expansion of instantaneously available media presents great new challenges for online publishers. How do we effectively introduce new, high-quality content to consumers when they are already inundated with a bursting stream of options? For the best solutions, we need to not only look forward to new tools and technologies, but look back at traditional media methods.
Dayparts are a sum of the whole
Boob tube. Idiot box. Television has always had problems with its own image. For as much time the public spends watching television, it's often surprising that the conduit gets as much criticism as the content it transmits.
The interactive community seems to have shared society's suspicion of the elder media platform. While one might assume that the online industry would turn to television for historical perspective and to learn from its many practical strategies, that hasn't always been the case. As an upstart platform, the web's inherent interactivity made its practitioners often cast a wary eye at television's unidirectional nature. This meant occasionally overlooking the lessons to be learned from a medium that can seem passive but at its best is based on the execution of very successful programming strategies.
In a year when original content has blossomed online, and much of that content has been created in conjunction with television, this is a great time to cast aside some of the TV cynicism and look to the maligned platform for inspiration.
TV programming strategies (naturally buoyed by ratings measurement, market research, et cetera) have long dictated what's on TV at what time. One of the most simple but effective programming tools is breaking up the schedule using dayparts. Determine the size and demographic make-up of your available audience during a particular time and then offer appropriate new content.
One of the great benefits of the Internet is that we can serve people with what they want when they want it. But the continued growth of what's available online means that consumers may not know what they're missing and therefore won't try to locate it. The recent proliferation of content means it is more important than ever to create a greater dialogue with users. Daypart programming online lets us close that gap and anticipate audience interests and needs based on what we know about some very obvious habits.
Consumption of content is organic and time is an integral component. For example, financial news and information is in high demand during work hours. People play more online games in the evening because they have more time. Searches for theater info and movie times become more frequent leading up to and during weekends. Much like TV's rating system, these habits are measurable and responding to them accordingly heightens the ability to serve our users.
The concept is so overwhelmingly simple it risks being lost: match the available user base with appropriate new content when they are most likely to become engaged with it. If user satisfaction can be achieved through consistency, web programmers can begin to establish a loyal audience. Sound familiar?
It's clear that dayparts are a worthwhile general strategy. Combining them with new tools and techniques provides a well-rounded set of tactics for publishers. Some of the most exciting developments can be found in recommendation engines. By letting users provide their input directly, we're given unprecedented abilities to serve granular audiences with content tailored precisely to their unique interests.
Several models of the recommendation engine are already in widespread use, operating on slightly different levels of user interactivity. Amazon's recommendations, for example, are automatically generated based on observed user behaviors. TiVo employs a similar model, first requesting that users opt-in but then compiling recommendations based on viewing habits.
Yahoo! Entertainment recently unveiled its own user recommendation engine in its My Movies area. Based on their ratings of theatrical releases and DVDs, users are provided recommendations based on the similarity of their self-declared movie preferences. Whether the system is automated in the case of Amazon or user-initiated like Yahoo!, the recommendations generated allow the publisher to serve users with suggested content that is far more targeted and specific than would otherwise be possible.
With the recommendations enabled, publishers are relieved of some of the burden for delivering the content. Instead, the cycle becomes self-fulfilling as the more content is consumed the better the recommendations become. This is not only beneficial for deploying new original content and trusting that it will end up on the screens of the desired individuals, but a very important step toward enabling older content to generate new revenue.
Vince Messina serves as entertainment category development officer for Yahoo!, where he was recently promoted from entertainment sales director. As entertainment category development officer, Messina will develop and lead the go-to-market strategy for media sales in the Theatrical, Home Video, TV and Game industries. Additional oversight includes Product Marketing, Research, Market Insights and Client Development.
Success certainly didn't happen overnight
The Isaiah Mustafa ad and the "Response Campaign" are the peak of this effort -- not the beginning. When W+K landed the Old Spice account in 2007, it didn't just add a bunch of irreverent television commercials and throw in a social media play. The agency introduced new products, new packaging design, and even a new logo for the brand.
And despite what you might have read (and it was surprising how many "top tier" news organizations reported this) this campaign did not start with a Super Bowl ad. "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" was launched online at the beginning of February 2010. The television media buy that accompanied it was not directed toward men, but rather television shows where men and women would be watching together. The commercial was aired on shows like "American Idol," "Lost," and the Winter Olympics.
But this wasn't some weird stroke of genius. This ad was just one in a long line of commercials and creative that the W+K team had been working on for the three years that it had the Old Spice account. As Jason Bagley, creative director at W+K, told Adweek, "We kept turning up the dial, the satire, and the ridiculousness of the category advertising."
Amazingly, when you watch the progression of creative over those three years, you can almost (almost, mind you) anticipate the breakthrough creative that "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" would be.
For example, let's start with two classic Bruce Campbell commercials from 2007. The first one is my absolute favorite, with Bruce's rendition of Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." Pay special attention to the front part of the second commercial with the swagger and quick, staccato dialogue and wordplay:
Then, there's this one from 2008. Notice the tone and the dialogue in this (and yes, there's also a horse of sorts):
Also from 2008 comes the classic Neal Patrick Harris homage to his Doogie Howser character. Again, the tone will now ring familiar.
Finally (and if I don't have you yet, I'm about to) there were these commercials from 2009 that said, "I'm A Man."
It almost feels like if you mashed them all together you'd get "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like." That's too easy, of course. It's an evolution of a creative team exploring different types of breakthrough creative -- watching some fail, some succeed, and using that insight to learn and iterate.
And, speaking of attempts that didn't work nearly as well, does anybody remember the hair on the soap from 2007?
So, the current campaign is not an overnight success, but the result of a multi-year exploration that finally got this team to the promised land: an explosive piece of creative that resonated with everyone.
This is a key lesson for us as marketers because it's not just one lucky break. It's about a process with a lot of work -- a lot of creativity -- and a good dose of stuff that didn't work in there as well.
That brings us to our second thing that maybe we didn't know.
Old Spice made a significant investment
Much is made about how social media and viral marketing are inexpensive and how there's no media cost for YouTube videos. All true. But let's be clear; "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" was no "David After Dentist" accident. This was an extraordinarily intricate and complex campaign made up of TV spots, print advertising, and online display ads, as well as social media. According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Old Spice spent approximately $54 million on media in 2006. In 2007 Nielsen estimated approximately $80 million in media spend. It's a safe assumption that the media buy for 2009 and 2010 was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Let's be honest now -- the social media "Response Campaign" would never have worked if Isaiah Mustafa wasn't a household name by July. It was a combination of his charm, swagger, and fame, set up with the ad campaign that led to the "Response Campaign" (of course, there were appearances on Oprah and Ellen as well).
We've got to also understand that even the production of the "Response Campaign" was not just four guys sitting around with a Flip cam. Dean McBeth, a W+K digital strategist, said, "We had two full days of real-time -- creatives, digital strategists, community managers, developers, and editors all siting in the same area at the same time."
And, not only did that team produce 186 videos in one day, but it also actually developed a complete software system that pulled in Twitter posts and Facebook status updates ranked by influencer power.
There's no doubt that this campaign was complex, strategic, and was a significant investment
That brings us to a question:
Can it, will it, or should it last?
Is this campaign, as some have stated, "the future of all marketing and advertising"? Well, one of the trends that will be interesting to follow over a much longer term is: Can this level of energy be sustained, or will the cost and effort ultimately prove to be too much? Does it, or maybe more importantly, should it scale? For example, Old Spice's "Prove It" campaign, which immediately preceded W+K's work, ran in various ways for 13 years.
What if we compare the Isaiah Mustafa-centered creative (probably unfairly) to the Marlboro Man? That campaign wasn't necessarily dissimilar from this one. In 1954, filtered cigarettes were considered feminine and Marlboro was in need of a major shift in brand. When the campaign launched, sales jumped more than 3,000 percent in one year. Marlboro went from less than 1 percent market share in 1954 to the market leader in less than 20 years.
Procter & Gamble bought the Old Spice brand 20 years ago, and there's no doubt that it has updated the brand in that time. See for yourself.
So, what's the biggest difference? In those 20 years, Old Spice has been through a number of different creative explorations and at least two agencies. The Marlboro Man creative campaign lasted 45 years under one agency.
But isn't that just the way it is now? Is the "Marlboro Man" type of campaign even relevant these days? Has the marketing and advertising paradigm shift been so pronounced that those types of campaigns are anachronistic?
One thing is certain. For now, this campaign should be celebrated for the fine body of strategic advertising and marketing work that it is. It's certainly no overnight success, and it's certainly a campaign that in budget exceeds most of our grasp. I think it's too early yet to call it "the future of marketing and advertising." But it's sure fun to watch.
Oh, and I'm on a horse.
A focus on programmatic video & the future of TV
Programmatic video is the convergence of two of the hottest aspects of marketing. It's also a space that needs to be on your radar when forming partnerships. TV is fragmenting quickly and consumers are becoming more and more screen agonistic. In the video space, brands and agencies need to follow where the eyeballs go, and the future is not a TV-centric video consumption world. The convergence of digital video, TV and advertising are creating an exciting landscape for marketers, especially in the programmatic space. The ability to serve targeted video ads across all screens and devices is getting better every day, and you need a vendor that is in some way leading the charge in this area. Display ads are not going to be the only form of media being served programmatically and with the walls between online and television being eroded, your future programmatic prospects will include digital video. If you’re not asking the tough questions in this area to prospective partners, you need to be.
Brad Piggott, Vice President of Platform Solutions, North America for BrightRoll continues our conversation by explaining why video is such a hot topic in the industry, and why accessing linear broadcast television in SET top boxes in a programmatic fashion such an exciting prospect for the industry.
A holistic approach to the programmatic space
Lastly, there's nothing wrong with DSPs or ad networks, but when you're looking for a programmatic partner you need a platform that approaches the space in a holistic way. DSPs and ad networks may not have proximity to the inventory or all the different solutions built-in to be able to leverage an "all-of-the-above" approach for agencies. In the programmatic space, it's vital to work with a company that can offer a full suite of solutions for clients. This is where a platform approach stands out from the pack. A unified platform approach cuts down on workflow and can eliminate RFPs and those time consuming IOs. All tools are utilized and can be at your fingertips when you partner with a platform who understands that the programmatic space cannot be executed in silos. Take a hard look at whitepapers from prospective partners. Ask a range of questions that prove first-hand knowledge of a holistic programmatic perspective. Make sure they are thought leaders in their field. Be vigilant and inquisitive about multiple areas and you will find the right fit for your company.
Brad Piggott, Vice President of Platform Solutions, North America for BrightRoll ends our conversation with some final thoughts about the programmatic space, the future and big tips for success when searching for partners.
Learn more about BrightRoll.