22 December 2009

Twitter vs. LinkedIn

Thanks to many of you who follow me on Twitter for participating in an experiment the past day or so: to see the effect on Ad Majorem’s traffic by mentioning content only on Twitter.

I’ve been wondering about Twitter. When I first joined in April 2007, nobody else was using it. By the time I launched this blog just three months ago, Twitter was all the microblogging rage.

Yet LinkedIn has generated most of the blog’s traffic. In a way this is logical since LinkedIn and this blog are both devoted to business topics. Most of my contacts on LinkedIn would have an interest. The blog's content by nature will be more relevant to that audience.

Then again, many of my friends on Twitter have some connection to marketing and advertising, too. So why weren’t my tweets having the same effect as my LinkedIn status updates? To understand this a little better, I've stopped posting updates to LinkedIn for the past two days and used only Twitter.


Do not try this at work. Most social media strategies do not rely on a single platform to start a dialogue with your target. In my case this is a low-risk experiment since it's just Steve's personal blog and not some new media venture funded with venture capital.

So what happened?

Overall traffic was about the same the past two days. LinkedIn's percentage of visits went down, but still accounted for 21.6% of visits based on leads posted last week. Twitter is on an upward slope, but still only 18.5% of visits. On the other hand, Twitter was the leader in pages per visit (1.44) and new visitors (61.1%). The biggest source of visits is still Direct Traffic -- people who come to the site by entering the URL or perhaps having it bookmarked -- holding steady at about 32.9% of visits.

Content matters

To start this experiment, I asked people to retweet a very generic notice: “a blog all about #marketing and #advertising”. Even though many of you retweeted it, the results weren't anything special. The same day, without any special effort, I tweeted something a little more intriguing: “The product we advertised will polish the award we won for advertising it.” The results were a little more intriguing, too: lots of retweets, strong pageviews, and new followers on the blog as well as on Twitter. Why? Content matters. If the content is pedestrian, not even retweets will generate interest. If the content is interesting, however, it will generate interest – and retweets. No big news there. Some rules of Ye Olde Marketing still apply in the New Media Universe.

I’m going to continue using the Twitter-only system for the next couple of weeks and see what happens. This will be a test of my copywriting ability. If you like what you read and think others would, too, then please retweet. Otherwise just move on to whatever the Muppets are singing this week.

A big "thank you" to those who have helped so far. Please continue the karma by following these kind souls: @adlandjones, @TheYaffeGroup, @MargotMHorn, @robbiew, @joshi_mridul, @maedrolet, @robbdotcom, @saman325, @eermm, @mjulius4, @lilmissjen, @DrumsForAds, @Absatzlehre, @michaelleander, and of course my corporate masters @Draftfcb.

21 December 2009

An award that we will polish with Windex

Draftfcb won first place for Innovative Marketing Communications at the Chicago Creative Club "No Show" Awards this past fall. The winning program was an experiential street demonstration for Windex. You can see it here on YouTube or just watch it below. We were praised at the time for doing something interesting with the most ordinary of household products.

Last week we received the actual award. In a nice little irony to close out the year, the award came in the form of... a block of glass.

Yes, we will polish it with Windex.

18 December 2009

3 keys to (continued) survival in 2010

At the beginning of 2009, we all knew a tough year lay ahead. We won’t repeat it all here except to say: housing bubble bursts --> credit market freezes --> financial institutions fail --> stock market crashes --> budgets get cut.

There is one more effect, actually. “Marketers seek results.” After budget cuts, every dollar must show a result. We’ve written about this here, here and here.

Ad Majorem is all about embracing the changes and challenges of modern marketing. The “modern” part is often the trickiest.

No one has all the answers, however, so don’t expect this of yourself.

Instead, here is some advice extracted from what Arthur Ashe, the great U.S. tennis pro once said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

1. Start where you are

It’s human nature to reflect upon a year gone by. We knew 2009 would be tough, and it was. Where does it leave me? What have I learned? These are simple questions, but not easy ones. The hard part is taking the time and having the courage to assess these questions, look ourselves in the mirror and honestly understand our individual situations.

For example, you may have a client who is more attentive to cost savings than ever before. You may have a customer who wants to remove your products from the shelf. A new product launch may not be going well. Writing these things down on a list often helps me face them more honestly. “The truth will set you free” – if you’re willing to face it.

Catalogue the good stuff, too. We won a new account (let’s ensure their first 90 days are so good they never look back). We hired an outstanding SEO expert (let’s put her to work on that new client).

2. Use what you have

There are two thoughts here that complement one another.

The first is to play your position. What are you charged with doing and delivering? Make sure you nail those objectives and let nothing distract you. For example, you may make TV commercials for a living and hear pundits deride these as Ye Olde Media. Consider that many consumers watch TV commercials on broadcast, cable, digital or mobile media. More than that, if a client is paying you to make a TV commercial, make sure it is the best dang TV commercial you can possibly deliver.

The second thought is to deliver added value beyond what’s expected. Chances are that you have smart, capable co-workers who can be part of a team that produces something of added value. To extend the above example of an agency that makes TV commercials for a client, the team can deliver a retail extension or a partnership with one of the broadcasters to feature the product more prominently. Other avenues may be a new product idea, a new claim or demo or an emerging media application. If you know your consumer and your client’s business well enough, you’ll generate good ideas.

3. Do what you can

Look around your organization. What other resources does it provide to you as an employee, manager or leader? What does it offer to clients or prospects? Many of us take a quick glance and complain that the company hasn’t made this or that investment, or that “no one” wants to push the envelope. Is “no one” really stopping you?

When Draft and FCB merged three years ago we suddenly had a long list of capabilities. The list was so long that nobody wrote it down. I walked around the newly combined hallways of Draftfcb, interviewed colleagues old and new, took notes, and eventually compiled that list. It was impressive (and we have filled it out a little more in the past three years).

The point here is not to have a long list of resources, but to fully assess the possibilities. Dream a little bit. Where can we take this business?

At minimum this kind of exercise develops your peripheral vision. In a time of change it is critical to understand what goes on around us. If we don’t know what’s possible, we’ll never make it a reality.

Start where you are: Honestly assess your situation going into 2010. Use what you have: Play your position – and add value. Do what you can: Push the envelope – stay abreast of the new possibilities that constantly arise in today’s changing and challenging marketing environment.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Feliz Navidad -- and have a happy, prosperous, change-embracing New Year in 2010.

17 December 2009

Congratulations to a Renaissance Practitioner

Tina's job at Draftfcb is Global Retail and Promotions Officer, which means she is responsible for keeping those disciplines strong at our through-the-line agency. You know she's doing a great job because we've been named #1 agency by PROMO Magazine two years in a row. She's a terrific specialist.

She's also a terrific generalist. One of the things I really appreciate about Tina is her teamwork and understanding as we employ the Draftfcb model. She understands not only the strength of retail and promotions, but the role of these disciplines. This requires good peripheral vision about what her other colleagues are doing. She's a Renaissance Practitioner.

Felicidades, Tina!

16 December 2009

The world is spinning out of control...

This blog embraces the changes and challenges of modern marketing, which are legion. Here are two quick ones from the past 24 hours of marketing news.

DVR time-shifting. This article on AdAge.com reports a new study on which shows are the most "time-shifted", thanks to DVRs ("TiVo" to some of us). The study from Horizon Media counted eleven shows that are regularly watched up to seven days after they air.

Radio ratings. This morning's NYTimes.com reports that Nielsen's new Portable People Meters bring new accuracy to radio ratings. The author seems very interested in the findings that adult men listen to Celine Dion and that classical radio fans are a bit hypocritical.

These aren't just changes in technology, they are changes in how we measure the effectiveness of what we do.

TV is a popular medium, but how does it drive sales?

Yesterday Deloitte released a new study finding that TV is the most popular medium in the U.S., with 34% saying so, an increase from last year. The Internet came in second. (You can download the study here.) This is a timely follow-up to the previous post and discussion about TV's popularity among teenagers.

Speaking of research, we spent the morning yesterday reviewing the latest copy test results for a long-running TV campaign. It was a fun meeting because we scored incredibly well, giving us confidence for the day when we unleash this advertising on the marketplace.

The most successful TV commercials leave the consumer able to do two things. (1) Recall the brand name along with the commercial itself. (2) Retell the story line along with the product itself.

Many will tell you that TV advertising should inform, entertain, incite, et cetera, and those are all true depending on exactly what you sell. None of them matter, though, unless the audience remembers the brand name and understands the product being sold. (It helps if you are selling something relevant to the audience, but that's a story for another day.)

14 December 2009

TV is dead -- long live TV

It's fashionable in marketing to declare the death of TV. The problem is, people keep watching TV, so we can hardly say the medium is dead.

The latest news on this front was reported the other day in a New York Times article titled "TV Still Has a Hold on Teenagers". The basis of the report was a Forrester study of media use by European teenagers that found them using TV more than any other medium. The Internet and other media are used less.

Also noteworthy is the apparent conclusion that all media do not add up to 100% of a teen's waking hours. In a startling recognition of human nature, a Forrester analyst is quoted saying "real-world social interaction with friends remain important for online teens."
How, then, do they seem to use so much media? Multitasking. As noted here before, our research shows this time and again.

To be sure, TV's business model is under threat. On one extreme, Fox considered cancelling the popular series "24" because production costs exceed ad revenue; on the other extreme, NBC's Jay Leno Show will make a profit even though low audience numbers mean low ad revenue because production costs are so low.

TV will be different in the future; it has to be. We already have so many ways to reach consumers via TV, and there are many more TV-like media available, such as pre-roll and digital out-of-home. The next decade will bring twice as many changes, and we'll all still be watching, just like the baby on The Tubes' album cover pictured above.

11 December 2009

The Three Ds of modern marketing

There are Three Ds of modern marketing you dare not ignore: Digital, Direct and Data.

Yesterday's post about the "constant process" of online media ("Digital" to some of us), got me thinking about the Three Ds, which have been a recurring theme lately in my daily work.

The "constant process" of Digital means that you don't just launch a campaign and see what happens. You launch, measure and optimize.

This is exactly the same with Direct, the second "D". When I was an AE at Leo Burnett we proposed to our client an inbound telemarketing program ("an 800 number" to some of us). Burnett's direct marketing department was new, and we had hired an incredible talent in Tom Collinger, now a professor at Northwestern University. His words to the client stick with me to this day: "If you launch a program like this, it's a commitment. You never really turn it off."

Direct, like Digital, is an ongoing process. The whole purpose is to establish a relationship that makes your brand or product line meaningful enough to a consumer that they will continue to receive and respond to your messages. Increasingly they will send messages of their own, which also have to be measured.

Both Digital and Direct depend on Data, the third "D". The measurement and optimization is all performed based on how consumers respond to your message, and that response is more measurable than ever. As Lester Wunderman recently (under)stated: "The science of data has really built (the direct marketing) business."

Not only must we recognize these Three Ds of modern marketing, we are practically compelled to use them in combination. It would be inadvisable to run a Direct program without Digital and impossible to run one without Data.

These couldn't be a Venn Diagram because the circles would be right on top of one another. I prefer to think of these Three Ds as a 6-4-2 double play combination in baseball, like Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance.

Whatever the right analogy is, these are certainly the right combination. Historically, marketing has been based on events that we execute, that succeed or fail, and that teach us lessons to apply next time. In the modern era we can learn those lessons in real time and adjust accordingly, driving up the sales curve as we go.

10 December 2009

Online Media is a Process, not an Event

The above headline is my revision to a statement by Seth Godin that generated some Twitter buzz today. Seth wrote: "The reason social media is so difficult for most organizations: It's a process not an event." That's a concise and brilliant thought.

If I may edit a little, the same observation applies to all online media. Online Media is a process, not an event.

The diagram above illustrates this point. Traditional media requires a marketer and an agency to plan, buy and execute. Online media -- and yes, social media -- requires steps beyond execution.

Those added steps are to measure, optimize and revise. It's a constant process. That "constant process" is the difficult part for most organizations, because it requires a sustained effort throughout the marketing timeline and beyond. You don't just launch and then watch the sales roll in (or not).

I've provided a bit more explanation of what the "constant process" entails in this presentation on SlideShare. Even so, it's just the start. My next post will elaborate on what comes next.

02 December 2009

"Oh -- were we supposed to prove the results of what we did?"

Measurement and accountability are favorite topics of mine because they are the keys to the future of our business. Technology now permits us to know a lot more about the results of what we do.

Even so, it seems many executives don’t want to know the results. Perhaps they don’t trust the mysterious black box marketing mix analyses that impugned their efforts in the past. Perhaps the idea of understanding an algorithm (or even spelling the word) is intimidating or boring. Or maybe it’s just a lack of familiarity with the methods old and new we can all use to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

We’d all better get familiar fast. Even if we provide the smartest strategy and the greatest creative, it won’t mean much without analytics. As described in the short history of advertising, there are plenty of consultants who are willing to fill the void.

The good news is that we have a lot of options for measurement. Here are just three, plucked from the news this week alone.

1. It’s possible to measure TV advertising’s effect.

Let’s start with some fuzzy math. Or, in the words of Lucas Donat, “fuzzy analytics”. Donat wrote this week about a method of measuring TV advertising’s effect on sales. It’s very simple math: establish a baseline that estimates what sales would be if you did not advertise for the time period in question. What’s the baseline? That's the fuzzy part. You are making a 21st Century dart throw, a guesstimate. Why not? You have to start somewhere. As Donat explains, you must attend to this model over time and learn its rhythms, constantly measuring your actual sales curve to understand the marketplace effect.

This is very old-school, but it is absolutely acceptable math. Years ago when I worked on McDonald’s we used this model every single month to understand whether Two Big Macs for $2 was driving a sufficient lift in transactions to justify the lower average check we expected from the discount. Step one, under the tutelage of McStatistician Larry Knodle, was to establish a baseline. We treated these monthly case studies very seriously, and referred back to them for the planning of each new program. You’ve never known accountability, by the way, until you’ve explained store sales and profit to a committee of QSR franchisees.

2. David Ogilvy’s “secret weapon” should now be standard equipment.

I didn't mention that Lucas “here’s-how-to-measure-TV” Donat is actually a direct marketing guru, and one imagines he is well-schooled and experienced in all of the measurement tools of that trade. Draftfcb, my employer, is the result of a merger between an ad agency and the world’s premier direct marketing agency. I love the way my colleagues from the former Draft think about measurement; it’s a product of decades measuring their work in direct marketing. Before the merger, direct marketing was something I only read about. A great example was “Ogilvy on Advertising”, David Oglivy’s 1983 survey of the craft, which included a chapter titled “Direct mail, my first love and secret weapon”. It’s either quaint or prophetic that in just the third paragraph he mentions “computers” as a major advancement in the discipline.

On that note, I highly recommend this article in DMNews that summarizes how direct marketing has been transformed in the past 30 years by technology. It is a wonderful, concise retelling of the ways direct marketing has come in to its own. There are lots of quotes from bold-faced names in the industry. Howard Draft remembers the 1980s as a time when "we started to play around with quantitative media analysis." A quote from Lester Wunderman says it all: “The science of data has really built our business.” Interestingly, the article never mentions the words “measurement” or “accountability”.

3. Isn’t Digital supposed to be measurable?

This morning there was an article about IRI, Dynamic Logic, ComScore and X+1 teaming up to offer “CPGConnects”, which would go beyond the marketing mix analyses mentioned above. (The article helpfully notes that MMAs are “CPG’s ROI of choice”.) This new venture would analyze consumer purchase data that could be used to plan more effective online campaigns. Part of the news here is that CPGConnects would tie purchase data to consumer segments such as loyalists and switchers, and see how these individual segments respond. An intriguing example was the diagnosis of a packaged-goods brand campaign that attributed sales lift to incremental purchases by existing customers, as opposed to bringing in new buyers.

The article also notes that scale will be a challenge for CPGConnects, as in: most CPG digital campaigns are way smaller than the broadcast advertising budgets. This will change quickly in the next five years as ad messages are delivered digitally (pre-roll, digital OOH, etc.).

I remember reading an interview with Coke CMO Joe Tripodi a few years ago, when he was in the same role at Allstate Insurance, in which he bemoaned the lack of uniform metrics for digital campaigns. It’s true that Dynamic Logic and DART offer different ways to measure what your online campaigns are doing. In my view that’s a good thing, because at this early point in the History of Internet Advertising we need more than one reference point to measure the results of what we do.