Monthly Archives: September 2007

How Facebook will change advertising

So Mark Zuckerberg, sitting on $38 million from investors, rebuffs $1 billion from Yahoo last September and now a 5% offer from Microsoft that would put a value on Facebook of $10 billion. We’re talking silly money. And we see the trend.

With ga-billions at stake and investors fueling him, Zuckerberg is a kid no more, and he’s getting advice from smart people. Zuckerberg took Facebook nova with three simple steps: opening the social graph to the entire public, not just colleges; adding

Are your marketers and sales guys fighting like this?


Admit the problem. Your sales and marketing teams are not in synch.

Marketing directors rarely think about the sales force. They aren’t mentioned in the top 150 marketing blogs. Your marketing chief rarely discusses strategy with the sales czar. Your web gurus don’t think about sales. Your media plan doesn’t list them as a line item. Heck, we googled “marketing strategy + sales” just to check, and the only thing that popped up was bud.tv.

Reason? Marketers and sales often compete internally in organizations. At their worst, marketers can think sales is just brute force, and sales can think marketers have their pointy heads in the clouds. Sometimes organizations create opposing incentives — sales reps may get a commission if they close a deal or sign a customer, but leads coming from marketing go to an inside sales phone bank, cutting the field sales team out. Sales thinks marketing is overhead. Marketing wonders in its heart why sales is needed.

Too bad, because it all needs to work together. This is particularly true in internet marketing, where lead generation culminates with a prospect filling out a form online … and if no one follows up quickly, that consumer lead will die. If your web team never talks with the sales force, you have a problem.

Here’s a handy checklist to see if you have a sales vs. marketing smackdown:

1. Money fights. Does your organization create opposing incentives, where sales is not rewarded for marketing activity?
2. Org imbalance. If prospect leads are handled by different organizations (field, inside sales, customer service), do the teams talk with and train each other?
3. Delayed response. If a prospect comes in any “door” — internet, phone, print, retail — and wants to sign up/buy immediately, can each part of your organization sell them quickly?
4. Hole in the flowchart. Review your marketing plan … does it indicate clearly how advertising media, direct marketing and field sales activity are synchronized each month of the year?
5. Broken budget process. Think about your planning cycle. Do sales and marketing directors collaborate in planning how your budget will be invested? Or do they each have a separate budget, and create siloed plans that are not in synch?
6. Measurement madness. Ah, this, the biggest sin, may reside with the top exec, if he or she is measuring each part of marketing and sales as silos. We’ve had clients wonder why print results are down, while internet results are through the roof. Direct mail can be slipping, but field sales is getting more leads. Do you really know how all the metrics fit together?

Marketers must remember that prospects hear your message as a series of integrated communications, and their response may shift from channel to channel. If you don’t measure how each channel affects the others, you’ll be giving praise and casting blame unfairly — and the sales vs. marketing imbalance may spin further out of control.

There is no easy fix. We suggest in your next annual budget cycle, just put the sales and marketing chiefs in a room, and tell them to build one plan. Watch the spears fly.

Wayback inside your competitor’s web strategy


Want to see where competitors are heading in their internet strategy? Easy. Visit the Wayback Machine, an online archive of 85 billion web pages that will show you actual old web sites from any company or organization, any time they were updated, going back to 1996. You simply type in the name of the web site you want to research — such as www.mycompetitor.com — and a series of links will show up for the home page at old dates, exactly like it used to look at that point in time. Web designers have used this for years. Business strategists might take a scan to see how competitors have been progressing — No more sign up? Content now free? More video? New social networks? Products in a new area? — and then predict their trend line forward.

Also fun to see really bad examples of Web 1.0.

Web 3.0: The difference between viewers and hunters

Wenda Harris Millard, media czar at Martha Stewart, makes a brilliant comment about messing up earlier this year when she relaunched www.marthastewart.com. Back in May 2007, the “new” site looked like this:


What’s in the middle? Only 12 links taking you to content (you know, the stuff people search for). The site was designed for “viewers,” Millard says, not “users,” so focused solely on clean, simple, open design. Big mistake — viewers, and web traffic, turned off. So Millard relaunched the site again later in the year, this time with many, many more links to content in the bottom two-thirds, like this:

Now the midfield has 57 clickable topics, grouped under what’s new, dinners, videos, holiday ideas, all-time favorites, poll, and classic recipes. The small links within the groupings have no-brainer titles such as “chocolate,” “Christmas,” and “good things for decorating.” You want chocolate? Click on chocolate.

The point? Web users are foraging. They are not viewers. They are hunters. They aren’t looking at your web site as a framed piece of art. They don’t care if your Web 2.0 design has rounded curves and elegant white space. They want to find what to click, and then click it fast. Seth Godin talks a lot about the difference between push and pull. Great design can push. Great usability lets users pull. The editors at Martha must have screamed about the simple idiocy of labeling the chocolate section just “chocolate.” But online, that works.

Now, we aren’t designers, and we respect the brilliance of subtlety, balance, contrast, and tension in grabbing attention. But as media planners, we note that consumers are in different modes when they use different media. Make sure your communication format fits the need — and if the user is hunting for something you offer, give them several very clear targets.

This month at Mediassociates


People sometimes ask, what do media planners do? We cut through the forest of advertising, build paths, and find customers. This month, we ran forecasts, drew charts and made thousands of calls to media outlets to plan ad campaigns for retail, food, software, health, education, credit unions, home utilities, even pet accessories. We researched the latest trends in radio, outdoor, Google, Facebook, print, newsprint, GRPs, Portable People Meters, and child marketing. We launched a marketing blog that got noticed in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.

We spoke with a young woman in California wanting to know which college courses to take, and whether she should get into advertising.

We said yes.

We love this business of making advertising work. Just ask Rocky, the newest addition to our team. He’s shown here reading PRWeek, where a public service campaign we helped design made Page 1.

Rocky’s a pit bull. Helps sometimes in negotiations.

Radio ratings tank, so Arbitron spins the truth


Arbitron insults your intelligence with a new spin campaign about GRPs. It’s pure baloney. Marketers and media planners should cry foul.

A new electronic measurement system for radio ratings has exposed the fact that GRPs aren’t what we thought they were — real ratings are actually off 30% or more in the first two markets, Philly and Houston, where the Portable People Meter was used. This PPM device replaces diaries to monitor how people really listen to radio, and it found people skip around the dial a lot more than previously thought — in general, hurting ratings of any single station. The PPM system goes to NYC next, and by end of ’08 will be in the top 10 U.S. markets.

This means your radio buys have been weaker than you thought. Marketers who thought they were buying 100 GRPs were really only getting 70 GRPs for their money. If they want to get to 100 gross rating points, they’ll now need to spend more. Arbitron is trying to mask the bad news with full-page ads in MediaWeek telling buyers that the new GRPs are more powerful. In actuality, 30% of the old GRPs have vaporized.

There is some good news as radio ratings tank — the more accurate data will allow media buyers to build more sophisticated plans, buying deeper into lower-ranked stations to get exactly the reach and frequency clients want. With a real read on the audience, we can now place ads more likely to hit the real listening target, which in turn should boost responses and customer action.

But come on, Arbitron. Launching a PR campaign saying 70 PPM GRPs is the new 100 is a bit silly. Here’s what we suggest. Send us a check for $100,000. We’ll put it in a bank for you. And we’ll call you tomorrow saying, whoops, you only have $70,000 in your account. But don’t worry — 70 is the new 100.

(For a detailed look at how far 100 GRPs have fallen in radio, here’s a table showing TRP details for Philly. If you thought you had 100 TRPs for teens A12-17 Mon-Fri 3P-7P, you really only had 54.)

When oil giants turn on a dime


It’s been seven years since BP launched a $200 million rebranding campaign with Ogilvy to turn the world’s 3rd largest oil concern into “Beyond Petroleum,” an eco-friendy, consumer-listening, solar-powered investor that is much more than an oil company. As you’d expect, such claims from an oil behemoth — founded in 1998 by the merger of British Petroleum and Amoco — were met with some derision at first. But BP took a green-and-gold sun as its logo, quickly won PRWeek’s “campaign of the year,” and now — seven years later — the campaign is still going strong.

We think it’s brilliant. Here’s why.

1. BP’s media plan and creative are unwavering. Over 86 months, we’ve seen the same logo, the same brand position, the same yellow highlighted text, the same targeting of higher income consumers (think “investors”) in magazines such as The Atlantic. BP is consistent. It tells the world it is more than oil; it is the friendly environment + future energy. Think about the frequency of impressions. After seven years, you can’t help but begin to believe some of it.

2. BP’s advertising covers every angle. Gas stations in the U.S. were modernized with the green and gold. The very gasoline itself was rebranded, with the middle-grade gas now called “Silver” at BP stations. From the road, the point of sale is inviting, challenging Mobil’s convenience stores-Speedpass-and-clean-bathrooms for busy travelers.

3. It’s ballsy. Come on. Changing the very name from British Petroleum — which sounds aspirational to the U.S. consumers who admire the uppercrust UK — to Beyond Petroleum. Doing so left its core product, oil, behind. Imagine selling that idea to YOUR board.

4. This is so looooong term. The world of oil energy is changing. Heating oil manufacturers in the U.S. are just beginning to toy with 5% grades of bio-diesel, and here in 2001 we have the third-biggest oil conglomerate walking away from its core to focus on solar power and clean energy. Now in 2007, with Al Gore in the news, investors looking toward the Northwest Passage, and Russia planting a flag on the seabed of the North Pole to stake a claim on ocean rights when the ice up there is gone, BP got a jump on the others by recognizing the long-term trend in the market. We need more energy, and we’re looking ahead. And now, we Americans can still feel good about oil.

BP, BP. How could you be so smart?

The social network of children says ‘Peace Out’


There is a theory that the reason boys and girls have different strengths in academics — boys score higher on math and spatial relations, girls score higher on verbal memory and object location recall — has nothing to do with sex or gender. It has to do with puberty.

Studies have shown that math aptitude tends to rise for both sexes every year until a boy or girl hits adolescence. Something about the flood of hormones changes gears in the brain, and once sex attributes appear in the body, the mental development for math and geometry seems to slow down.

OK. Now think back to 7th grade. Girls hit puberty several years before boys on average. Which means that boys have a few precious years to continue to advance in math, while girls’ minds change to more adult matters. Remember? The boys who hit puberty first banded together on the football team, while late bloomers huddled in the chess club. The girls who hit adolescence first joined sports teams too and were more socially outgoing, while late bloomers wrote in journals.

We find this concept interesting, because it points to a deep shift that divides children from men and women. It’s not about sexism — it’s about hormonal timing. And if hormones split our reasoning, then there are two main social cultures in the world — adults vs. children. Children, if you will, are their own society with mores and slang and values, and when children grow up, they leave that continent behind.

This unique social culture of children also gets passed down from generation to generation. The famous poem “Ring Around The Rosy” has its roots in the Great Plague of London in 1665, where children in streets saw rosy red rings on the skin (ring around the rosy), sweet herbs stuffed in pockets to heal (pockets full of posies), and cremation of dead bodies (ashes, ashes, we all fall down). Children have passed that rhyme to their friends, onward, for more than 400 years.

All of this explains why one of our sons looked at us in church, slammed his fist on his chest, waved two fingers and said “peace out.” We haven’t said peace out since the 1960s, but on some level, in the sub-youth culture, the cool phrase continues to be shared below the adolescent radar. We’ve heard silly old jokes from 7 year olds that we haven’t heard since we, too, were age 7. It’s interesting to think that viral or word of mouth marketing isn’t just about the network, but about the years in which the network passes through the generations.

Unfortunately, as today’s youth get more of their mindset from media — television, internet, radio, and text messaging — the historical culture of children may be eroding. Kids only have so much room in their heads. If our adult influence pushes them to buy more video games and spend less time chanting outside, the thread of history may be broken. Children will become little adults, chasing the same iPods that we want, too, and no one will recall the good old bubonic plague.

Hope it doesn’t hurt the math scores.

Adwidth to connect big brands with small talent

Adwidth wants big, big advertisers to tap creative genius from small guys working in their garages. The idea is Adwidth will match marketers with “user generated content” from aspiring video-makers. The young talents will compete by producing TV spots, and the social network will vote on content until the best rises to the top. If it works, your big brand could get a cool TV ad cheap, such as the famous Doritos spot above.

Advertisers could save millions. Unknown video savants could get discovered. Or, we could end up with bad 30-second doses of reality TV.