Category Archives: online advertising

TED’s loooong ads worth spreading

Conventional wisdom has it online video spots need to be short, 15 seconds max, because most users click away in impatience if you go longer. Media buyers prefer to stick such ads before the video content users really want, in a format called “pre-rolls,” so users have no choice but to sit through them. So it’s interesting TED has pushed back by promoting ads 2-3 minutes long that run after its online video content … so good, apparently, that users will not only watch but share the spots with others.

Noteworthy because TED is smart, and TED has a rich audience. Since its launch in 2006 TED has become a global conference juggernaut, expanding from a California elite speaking club with the likes of Bono, Bill Clinton and Jane Goodall to 750 subbranded “TEDx” events held annually around the world.’s free replays attract a fine demo: 50% of viewers are age 50+; 33% have incomes $100k or higher; and 23% have gone through grad school. If you’re selling BMWs, TED is your ticket.

What does it mean that an intellectual portal attracting the wealthy and educated is pushing long-form video? Perhaps if your content is good enough, audiences have the patience to pay attention.

Bonus round: If you want to taste TED’s speakers, don’t miss the brilliant Sir Ken Robinson.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Online consumers say: Make me an offer

A recent Ad Age/Ipsos Observer survey of 1,000 online consumers found the No. 1 thing they want is discounts on products or services. 65 percent of respondents asked for coupons, outranking better customer service, games and entertainment, or news. At first glance this seems depressing for marketers who try to decommoditize their service by focusing on brand aspects, aspirational values, or service quality offerings … so let’s explore.

1. Absent a relationship, price matters. Most consumers don’t have relationships with most brands; think about the brands you care deeply about, and you’ll likely stop at a handful. So any online marketing contact is likely to be superficial, akin to a first date, and of course to get customers to flirt with you, you may have to make an attractive offer. Price framing, in which you set a reference price and then discount sharply beneath it to convey value, is one way to help consumers new to your service judge whether you offer good value.

2. Immersed in clutter, offers matter. Online marketing touchpoints are wildly littered with banner ads, video, Google search results … creating a commoditized communications space. A typical U.S. consumer changes his or her web viewing window 17 times an hour, thus being exposed to thousands of marketing cries each day. No one can possibly digest this many messages, so consumers may expect an offer in exchange for their limited attention.

3. Online touchpoints are just the beginning of a customer relationship. Customers who evolve into loyal fans, every marketer’s dream, make repeat purchases and word of mouth referrals often far away from online communications. Life happens in the real world. Loyalists end up in a store, on the phone, perusing catalogs, perhaps with clicks for future purchases, yes, but those are often the “last click” after considered intent.

So brands have many opportunities to promote their deeper values as they grow share of customer. It just may not be online.

Via Ian Schafer.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

$99 eyeglasses? How Warby Parker reduces risk

It’s not easy getting people to click. Warby Parker battled this when it launched an ingenious business model. There is no reason, it seems, that designer eyeglasses cost hundreds of dollars; Warby Parker found it could source materials from Italy and use Chinese manufacturers to make spectacles just as fancy as the ones at the eye shop down the street, and sell the entire package including prescription lenses for only $99. The only trick: It would have to convince people to buy eyeglasses online.

Tempting, but what if they don’t fit? Warby Parker reduced the risk in several ways: You can upload a photo of yourself, and then have the eyeglasses digitally mocked up on your face to see what you look like. When you narrow down choices, Warby will send you five frames for free for you to try on at home, before making your order. And even when you finally order, Warby will guarantee the eyeglasses or you can return them.

As The New York Times noted in its review, unlike most retailers who focus on closing sales online, Warby gives you time to mull the idea over. Marketers focused on getting online results might consider: do our customers need time to evaluate the risk of choosing us? And if so, what offers, like Warby Parker, can we give them to pull them gently in our direction?

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

YouTube’s pay per unclick

YouTube has announced a rather counterintuitive ad model which encourages users to skip over ads. TrueView video ads play :15- or :30-second prerolls to YouTube’s video content; after 5 seconds, an icon appears inviting the user to skip the ad. Advertisers only pay if users don’t avoid the ad and instead watch the preroll to completion — call it “pay per unclick” — with the logic being marketers will reach consumers truly interested in the product.

The flaw, of course, is since this is entirely new, users may not understand the skip option immediately, so early advertisers may pay for people who aren’t interested but don’t know enough to avoid the ad. Still, we like it. If you do, please skip ahead.

Image: Mitchell Joyce

Wikipedia says you’re not testing enough

If you run online campaigns you really must read Wikipedia’s detailed description of how it tests creative for its fund-raising drive. Since August, every Thursday for one hour the encyclopedia tests either a range of banner ads or landing pages, typically 4-6 elements run against each other. As Information is Beautiful summarizes in the graphic above, winners beat losers by a mile.

Call it a challenge for creative agencies focused on building the single great idea. Your concept may be good, but if you’re not testing 40 components against each other, you’ll likely miss the big result.

Social media kills your web portal

Yeah, we know you’re working on a big new corporate site — and here is why it likely doesn’t matter. New research from Nielsen shows Americans now spend 33% of their time online using social media or online games, up from about 25% a year ago. Google search has remained about constant, with the big losers being portals such as Yahoo and AOL — with their slice down by 19 percent. Peter Kafka over at AllThingsD also notes that email is migrating over to smart phones, where Americans spend 42% of the time they hold handsets pecking at tiny keys.

The harsh lesson for marketers: Consumers want to see less of your single site, and if they do read a message, it may be on tiny handsets with less visual inventory for ad messaging. Perhaps instead of focusing on your single landing page, it’s time to build a broader web presence with more options for consumers to find, or share, your story. goes too far

We understand the challenge. has one main page, and few tricks (like to pull you deeper inside for multiple clicks to sell lots of ad inventory (although it is trying here). So has to get big bucks from its home page ad impressions.

But damn. Push ads too far and users will run away. Reminds us of the Clear Channel radio push in the late 1990s, in which commercial breaks crept to more than 12 minutes per hour, that led to diminished ratings and the radio network eventually backing down with a “Less Is More” campaign. In 2005 Clear Channel’s then-CEO John Hogan told USA Today “I distinctly remember driving to work in San Antonio and listening (to the radio) and thinking, ‘There’s no way that people are going to listen to this.’ ” What happened when Clear Channel reduced its commercials? Why, listeners came back, with ratings shooting up 5.3% in the Top 10 markets. Clear Channel defended revenues by raising rates on :30s to about 75% that of :60s and telling advertisers the impact would be largely the same. (Still, not all is well with the media giant thanks in part to a difficult recession.)

Worth a listen, Now excuse us while we look up a word on our Mac’s desktop widget.

Via Make the Logo Bigger.

Mad Men’s Playboy takeover

The hit AMC show Mad Men did more than advertise on this week — it took over the site, recasting the photos and other content to an early 1960s’ flashback. The main page featured drink mixes from the ad days of yore, and the archives focused on the old issues back when bunny ears got guys riled.

This is no silly case study: the mixing of advertising with editorial content is becoming common as publishers and broadcasters struggle amid declining advertising revenues. News Corp. COO Chase Carey said recently that “we have an ad-supported business model that doesn’t work,” namely that as consumers shift to the internet and social media, online advertising fails to keep up with old 30-second spot dollars. The main broadcast networks have sold $1 billion less in primetime upfronts this year, down from $9 billion in 2008, and all television revenues are expected to be off 10-15% in the coming year.

Advertising still works, but measurement methodologies are vital to identify the waste. Old forecasts of impressions, GRPs and CPMs aren’t enough as consumers start tuning out with new technologies. Don’t believe us; just look at Playboy.

Digg: Advertising you can vote on has a sweet audience. It’s the 53rd most popular web site in the U.S., attracts 13 million consumers a month and appeals to upper-educated men (you know, guys like us who spend foolishly on gadgets we don’t need). Users of the site can post articles and vote them up or down, tapping the wisdom of crowds instead of editors at The New York Times to elevate the best content.

Now Digg has launched an advertising system that works on the same voting principle. Digg will insert ads amongst its regular content, and users push the ads higher or lower based on how much they like them. If your ad scores highly, you pay less; if you’re booted to the bottom, you pay more. Dana Oshiro over at Read Write Web notes “while critics argue that the ads will simply be buried and advertisers will stop paying for placement, others called this ‘marketing democracy.’ “

Sounds fair. Make sure you use a good copywriter.

Cisco strokes our ego guru

(Yes, click to play.)

God bless Cisco. Appealing to the egotistical retweet-me-please instinct of social media, their new rich media ads on sites such as invite you to upload your photo and become a thought-leading guru. Then email it to your friends. Or post it on your blog. And, what was that Cisco campaign about? Something about collaboration ready mid-sized networks? Doesn’t matter. Cause it’s now about us, Cisco, your guru. But enough about us, what do you think about us? Cisco who?

(Memo to Cisco agency: You should include a preview in the black video box. And maybe a message about what the heck this campaign is about. Gurus.)