Monthly Archives: September 2007

Watching me watching you

The fun part about using a media planning blog to communicate with clients, ad agencies and marketers is the data we can collect. For example, the map above shows the location of computers who have visited THIS web site in the past two weeks since launch. Not bad, considering we’re reaching business leaders and our ad budget for this side project is exactly $0.

We’ve had 258 visits, an average reader stay for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, and we’re proud to say the fourth-most-trafficked city is London … perhaps because we’ve written two articles about The Economist and one was, ahem, rather negative.

Digging deeper, we see we’ve had three visits from “The Economist” computer network, er, at 1.67 pages per viewer.

Dear London lawyers: We’re sorry.

Put yourself in a higher bracket

OK, next big meeting, after work, in the restaurant with the important client/boss/vendor you’re trying to impress, casually let one of these receipts fall on the table. It’s fake, and it will show that you are loaded to the gills.

Call it word of mouth marketing.

We’d show you the web site that prints these, but hey … is this legal?

Answer one question to solve advertising math

We’re constantly amazed by the number of marketers who get hung up on media math. Of course, it’s complicated, with every media channel talking about different metrics — Gross Rating Points (% reach x frequency), CPM (cost per mil, or thousand impressions), DEC, and those lovely new web figures, cost per click, conversion rates, etc. Here’s a little secret: media channels use different metrics because they like to use the ones that make their channel look better than the other options.

So: How about cost per acquisition? It’s simple. How much are you willing to spend to bring in one incremental customer?

You should be able to answer this, and then pass it to your ad agency or media planners, and hold them accountable. If one customer generates $1,000 in revenue and $300 in profit in the first year, you may be willing to spend, say, $400 to bring in a new customer (since more profit will flow in future years, and you need to replenish your base). That’s your target cost per acquisition.

So, you have $400 in funds to bring in a customer.

If half goes to sales, then you have $200 to spend on marketing for each new customer.

And if only 1 in 4 customers is sold, you have $50 to spend for each lead (or inquiry).

$50. That’s it. All of your media needs to drive a phone call or web lead form for $50 per inquiry. How’s your direct mail doing? If it costs 50 cents per piece, you’ll need a 1% response rate to get to a $50 call. How’s newsprint? If one ad costs $5,000, you need 100 calls from a single ad to get to a $50 call.

Now, you have a single, common benchmark for every aspect of the media. Those old GRPs and CPMs are fine for planning. But if you really want to measure performance, you need to track action, not impressions. Everything else is just Monopoly money.

You’re way, way off. Except for the wrinkle cream.

Three weeks ago we searched online for nursing care options for an aging parent. Now, every time we hit we get served text ads like these — for Viagra, arthritis, retirement homes and joint creams. This is called ad retargeting, when advertisers chase you around the web after you (apparently) identify yourself as a prospect interested in their service.

Dudes! We’re still relatively young and use words like “dudes”. Haven’t these online ad networks ever heard of customer modality?

Now on the web: God 2.0

ComScore reports that faith-based video site GodTube launched Aug. 8 and in three short weeks racked up 1.7 million unique visitors, making it the fastest-growing web site in the U.S. Makes sense. Gallup polls in 2005 found that 70.6% of Americans believe in hell, 80.5% believe in angels, and 82.2% believe there is a heaven. (Interesting that we believe more, when we like what might happen if we believe…)

A glance at GodTube shows the passion people bring to sharing their religious views. Skateboarders give testimony; actor Stephen Baldwin speaks out. Some say they’re proud to be Christian and believe in modern science, while others offer a $250,000 prize for “anybody with any evidence of evolution.” The site — which now only takes limited advertising from like-minded organizations — is a case study in the complexity of American Christianity.

Marketers could use the site for free focus groups, to explore which religious debates rise to the top in the video rankings (although some posters try to game the system, as on YouTube, by adding hot tags like “Egypt, Alien, UFO” that apparently resonate with young Christian viewers!). Marketers might also pause and consider the extent of religion in the heartland — there are thousands of similar religious sites on Jewish and Muslim topics — and temper their worldly creative a notch if the media plan dips toward a spiritual audience. After all, someone out there is listening.

What if Google became evil?

Yes, Microsoft may have used PR to strike fear into business reporters’ hearts about Google, but no one describes that fear better than Cory Doctorow. The editor at popular Boing Boing has written a short story describing a future where Google knows too much — and where a Big Brother government uses Google to monitor citizens a little too closely.

The interrogator in the secondary screening room was an older man, so skinny he looked like he’d been carved out of wood. His questions went a lot deeper than shrooms.

“Tell me about your hobbies. Are you into model rocketry?”


“Model rocketry.”

“No,” Greg said, “No, I’m not.” He sensed where this was going.

The man made a note, did some clicking. “You see, I ask because I see a heavy spike in ads for rocketry supplies showing up alongside your search results and Google mail.”

Greg felt a spasm in his guts. “You’re looking at my searches and e-mail?” He hadn’t touched a keyboard in a month, but he knew what he put into that search bar was likely more revealing than what he told his shrink.

Google, founded by two cherubic kids whose motto is “don’t be evil,” faces scrutiny as it finalizes a bid to acquire the banner ad giant DoubleClick. Google collects reams of information about users to offer personalized ads, and if its advertising network grows, it will know more and more about your email messaging, web browsing, shopping habits, videos, online social profiles, and your network of friends and colleagues — more than might be healthy, critics say.

Doctorow notes his story “Scroogled” is not a slam, just a scenario. He says:

I think most of the things that Google does are good. I think one of the most heartbreaking things that any of us can live through is for an institution that we love to change in a way that makes us hate it. So it seemed to me that this would be a great opportunity to write something of dramatic note, something that would work as a story.

We love Google because its network provides value, and that comes from the ocean of linked information and users within it — right, Metcalfe? Consumers find anything in 0.0003 seconds only because of Google’s vast knowledge. But as the internet morphs offline and becomes part of everything — first your cell phone, then your wallet, your car keys, light bulbs and your dog’s collar — and as Google continues to index that knowledge, the world wonders if there are brakes on this train. Is one knowledge, under Google, too much?

Amazon unties MP3 strings

Amazon finally joins the band with its new online music store. 2 million songs, all DRM-free, meaning users are no longer handcuffed and can share the songs from computer to computer. Prices for most are 89 cents, slightly cheaper than Apple’s iTunes.

Interesting that Amazon focuses on openness to try to break into the market: The songs can be played and passed between PCs, CDs, Macs, iPods, Zunes, Zens, iPhones, RAZRs, and BlackBerrys.

Rock on.

Nielsen reports stormy weather for newsprint

Nielsen reported U.S. ad spending for the first six months of 07, and local newsprint took another hit — down -8.0% year over year. Internet ad spending was up 23.2% by comparison. Glossy mags and outdoor had modest gains.

What gives? Analyst John Dvorak writes local newspapers have asked for this punch because they are lazy. The typical small daily has original news on pages 1 and 3, and then pads the rest with AP wire reports.

Years ago, this lazy model worked. The wire services used to provide local papers with a wide range of stories that local editors could use to enliven their news mix. Over time, many newspaper owners saw the savings they could realize from loading up on wire stories while minimizing their original editorial content.

Once the Internet arrived, this model was dead, as the Net revealed that many newspapers weren’t actually contributing anything new or unique. The fact that people all over the country subscribe to the New York Times, rather than to a local paper, says it all.

Our bet is the big dailies and the tiny community weeklies will survive. It’s the mid-sized newspapers in the middle that have the most at risk. Advertisers who use measurement to track responses from daily newsprint ads don’t need to see the circ numbers (or “readership” claims) to make the call — if costs per inquiry continue to climb, they will put their funds into other, more economical media.

Learn from Fake Steve, and get gritty

Any man who calls Bill Gates Beastmaster and Apple fans iTards is a gutsy satirist, so it’s small wonder Daniel Lyons has been praised for his Fake Steve Jobs blog. We’re addicted.

Now that Lyons/Fake Steve is outed, he/they have published a book, and we ponder — why is this man so addictive? The blog is nasty and funny, yes, but it also contains real news about Apple and some inside scoops about how the recent refund was generated, what’s coming down the pipe, how shakers like Vivendi, Richard Branson, IBM, and Northwest Airlines are influencing technology markets, and what dark histories lurk in corner offices. As in:

Remember when Microsoft was fun? This (video) was shot in 1986, just 18 months before Ballmer sold his soul to the devil. Check out the price on the software. Back when they had to compete, they actually kept prices down.

Perhaps in this world of ever-fragmenting media, a little grit and edge are needed to break through. If you aren’t offended by the F-bomb, get the book.

Commercials as content

Firebrand launches on Oct. 22, trying to make commercials as cool as MTV was back in the day by offering “commercial jockeys” playing the hippest ads after 11 p.m. on ION. Pop culture fans will also find Firebrand at its web site, or with downloads from iTunes.

The economics are also cool. Firebrand targets Gen Y-ers/Millennials who account for $200 billion in consumer spending each year, and about 40% of online purchases. This audience is spending less time with mass media, so Firebrand will reach them via late-night cable and internet and mobile and, they hope, twentysomethings passing the cool commercials on to all of their friends. The launch plan includes outreach to influential bloggers, who are now either writing up the business model or praising the press junket.

It’s a new point of entry for making your message go viral. Question is — is your ad cool enough?