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Archive for the ‘Agencies’ Category

John BullThe English are said to have a richer appreciation of irony than most other races except perhaps the French – but then that nation’s spécialité du préférénce is cynicism!

Let’s not squabble about national partialities. However you look at it,  there’s there’s a splendid incongruity about the fact that glitzy, modish online brands last year spend a cool £180m [€206.6m; $279m] to promote their offerings on dowdy, old-fashioned British TV.

Difficult to know who’ll milk this succulent anomaly with the most glee: Britain’s TV marketing body Thinkbox – or the local chapter of the IAB. The former will claim the data is evidence of the efficacy of its medium; the latter will hype it as proof of the growing supremacy of the online platform.

According to data churned out by Nielsen Media Research on Thinkbox’s behalf, online brands’ TV spend increased from £10m in 2004 to £180m in 2009.

TVsetOldThe trade body, accustomed as it is to being caught on the back foot vis-a-vis revenue trends, claims the growth in spend by cyber-traders is evidence that TV can help generate online traffic – basing this assumption on Nielsen’s finding that 94% of people claimed to have gone online as a direct result of something they saw on TV.

MoonWink is unaware of the spin applied by the IAB to this latest TV spend data but the body will almost certainly select whatever convenient figures are supplied by its bean-counting valet Pricewaterhousecoopers.

Meantime, the research suggests that the effectiveness of TV in driving online traffic has been boosted by simultaneous web-browsing and TV viewing, claiming that some 54% of online consumers go online at the same time as watching TV.

C’mon guys, pull the other leg! The TShoppingCartV may still be switched-on (probably in another room) but don’t push credulity over the brink!

Still, the main point is this: whichever medium might the most efficacious – the TV/web combo appears to shift product. Which is the only true name of adland’s game.

Wasn’t it in 1955 when commercial TV first hit the UK that the term ‘cross-media campaigns’ first came into being?

Nah! As any meeja studies student will tell you, it became common currency around 1785 when some pushy genius started sticking handbills on walls to coincide with the birth of The Times of London!

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Illinois's thataway ...

Illinois's thataway ...

The deafening drone heard in the vicinity of Three Lakes Drive, Northfield, Illinois is not a squadron of cruising B-52 Stratofortresses, but several thousand boomerangs hurled by a legion of angry Aussies at the global headquarters of Kraft Foods, the planet’s second-largest food company.

Over a distance of more than nine thousand miles the Antipodean message, chanted to the accompaniment of a massed band of didgeridoos, came across loud and clear:  “Mess with Vegemite at your peril!”

According to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, the uprising began Saturday when  Kraft’s down-under subsidiary announced the rebranding of the salty spread, a national icon beloved by millions of otherwise rational Australians.

Rebranding heresy!

Rebranding heresy!

And to rub the sodium chloride well and truly into the open wound inflicted on the nation’s psyche, Kraft compounded its heresy by rebranding the concoction – wait for it – Vegemite iSnack 2.0 !!!

Moreover, as if to underscore marketers’ besotted adulation of all things digital, the new branding was arrived at courtesy of an online poll!

Aussies were already in defensive mode after the product’s reformulation in July – the first since it was launched down under in 1923. To the sub-continent’s horror and disbelief, the sacred yeasty recipe on which the nation’s taste-buds had been honed for eighty-six years was adulterated with … cream cheese!

Already in über-sensitive mode after losing The Ashes – a biennial cricket series against England earlier this summer – disconsolate Australians saw the rebranding of this national icon as the final straw.

Cowering in his bunker, Kraft’s local spokesman Simon Talbot admitted: “The new name has simply not resonated with Australians. Particularly the modern technical aspects associated with it.”

The company will hold another contest in which Australians and New Zealanders can vote for another name for the new Vegemite flavor.

MoonWink’s suggestion? ‘DigiBlunder’.

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TV is dead ... long live TV!

TV is dead ... long live TV!

No question but that broadcast TV profits are down. But this is due primarily to (a) recession) and (b) misperception among agencies and marketers that web/social media have the same level of consumer engagement as TV.

They don’t – not the ilk of Twitter and Facebook anyway – both of which have the fascination and engagement level of ant-hill watching. In other words: you may be fascinated by the goings-on but you don’t feel part of them!

Outside looking in?

Outside looking in?

TV works – or fails to work – according to the level of viewers’ emotional empathy with the brand. Successful use of the medium integrates the viewer into the action; social media leaves the viewer on the outside looking in.

Trouble is, though, that online media will continue to snatch share from traditional media as agencies will continue – as they have for decades – with their Pavlovian obsession with the flavour of the month.

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Anybody's guess!

More accurate?

Media economist Jack Myers forecasts an adspend dive of 13.3%in 2009, and a further 4.8% sag in 2010. Oh, really?

Why does anyone takes such adspend forecasts seriously, MoonWink wonders? Most are based on agencies’ over-egged optimism, ratecard prices [and that’s a notion funnier than Jim Carrey!] and other analysts’ best guesses – the latter often tailored to fit another predetermined agenda.

If such data really matters to you, try rolling dice. They’ll be as accurate!

Moreover, these forecasts are rarely (if ever) reviewed retrospectively. There’d be blood on the carpet if they were! Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Someone  looking?

Mencken: Inner voice?

“Conscience,” opined the late, great American wit, journalist and literary critic H L Mencken, “is the inner voice that warns us someone may be looking.”

Mencken’s dictum struck home among the adveratti a couple of decades back as it finally dawned on the trade that something had to be done about it’s excesses before the politicians and Joe Public finally lost patience.

Since when there has been a procession of half-hearted, limp-wristed attempts to impose a set of workable rules that wouldn’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

A realisation now confronting the adolescent internet advertising industry.

Within the exponentially expanding fish-tank of online marketing and media, there’s growing concern that US lawmakers could soon intervene on issues concerning the collection of personal data, according to US trade journal AdWeek.

It’s certainly an outcome encouraged by the vociferous privacy and public interest lobbies, currently bending ears in and around Washington DC.

Zaneis

Zaneis: Behavioural believer

Blather, balderdash, bosh and bilge, splutters Mike Zaneis, vice-president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who claims that  the real goal of the privacy campaigners is to eradicate behavior-based advertising, one of the most promising areas of innovation.

“They don’t believe in behavioral advertising,” he said. In which, of course, the IAB understandably does believe. Implicitly. According it a status akin to Holy Writ.

On the other side of the battlefield, the call to arms is taken-up by Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum: “We want consumers to be able to take advantage of all of the new technologies without the technologies taking advantage of the consumers. Right now, that balance is not there.”

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of lobbyist, the Center for Digital Democracy, is of like mind. Industry self-regulation, in the form of the IAB’s  Network Advertising Initiative, he avers, has failed.

Chester claims that tracking from all directions besets consumers with opt-out notices buried in legalese on hidden privacy statements. “The one thing that’s crystal clear that’s emerged so far is that, as in almost any industry, self-regulation doesn’t work.”.

And that assertion, italicized above, finally brings MoonWink  to the point of this article. Exactly how effective, if at all, is advertising self-regulation?

It’s a question aptly answered by a famed cartoon (circa 1895) from the long defunct British humorous magazine Punch.

Bishop to new, young curate beset with queasiness at the aged state of his egg:" Your egg is not bad, I hope?" Curate to Bishop: "Oh no, my Lord. It is exceedingly good ikn parts!"

Bishop to new, young curate beset with queasiness at the aged state of his egg: "Your egg is not bad, I trust, Mister Simpkins?" Curate to Bishop: "Oh no, my Lord. I assure you it is exceedingly good in parts!"

Yup, like the curate’s egg, self-regulation is exceedingly good in parts. On occasions. And with a following wind.

But, as with the dollar-generating ambiguities of law, so with adland’s self-imposed rules as to what is – or is not – permissible in advertising. And where. And to whom.

Booze is a good example. In the UK, for instance, a sanctimonious entity known as The Portman Group, funded in its entirety by large multinational pedlars of alcohol, preaches moderation and responsibility in drinking. And on behalf of its paymasters Portman tuts like a proverbial auntie at the frequent nationwide instances of alcohol-fuelled behavioural excess and violence.

Responsible drinking?

Responsible drinking?

Such antisocial goings-on are directly connected to the self-same booze-pushers’ stratagem of  ‘Happy Hours’ and other ongoing promotional events at bars and pubs throughout the country. Events that are, of course, intended to encourage moderation and responsibility in drinking!

Self-regulation in TV advertising is a similar cynical mockery. While medical professionals and dieticians condemn the peddling of high salt/calorie/sugar junk foods to children and and teens, over-exposed millionaire former sporting heroes and TV pundits continue to push these poisonous products to kids via  networked TV.

While the ad industry to its eternal discredit vigorously lobbies government and media regulators to further  ‘liberalize’ the current latitudinary rules.

Meantime, the letter of the law is adhered to – usually by the merest whisker! The spirit, however, is up for grabs.

Moreover, the foregoing examples relate solely to the UK – a nation almost Stalinist in its media controls compared with the USA, much of Latin America and Asia.

Makes you proud to be a marketer, doesn’t it?

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For hire: über-geek!

For hire: über-geek!

Microsoft’s latest attempt to narrow the zillion miles of clear blue water that separate it from Google in the search stakes has set Redmond ogling über-geek ‘computational knowledge engine’– Wolfram Alpha.

As the New York Times gleefully points out, it’s not that  the software colossus has any expectation of toppling Google’s dominance of the interplanetary search market. The benefits of its new love-in with Wolfram are primarily perceptional.

Beyond its software backyard, the online world perceives  Microsoft as a lumbering corporate hulk, incapable of creative thinking or fleet-footedness. Google’s reputation is the obverse, thanks partly to its track record and partly to [far] smarter PR.

Microsoft clearly hopes that Bing’s association with Professor Stephen Wolfram’s baby will bring a sheen of Google-style geekiness to its lumbering image.

A lumbering corporate hulk?

Lumbering image?

It’s doubtful the relationship will do much to enhance Bing’s search functionality since (if MoonWink’s experience is anything to go by) a Master’s Degree in mathematical semantics is necessary to frame any question that Wolfram Alpha will deign to answer.

As the NYT snidely summarizes: “By buffing out Bing so it can handle Diophantine equations and compare multiple ellipsoids, Microsoft is augmenting its decision engine to double as a homework engine.”

Er … lacking a Masters degree in mathematical semantics, would someone translate the NYT’s prose for MoonWink’s benefit?

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'Buddy, can you spare a voucher?'

'Buddy, can you spare a voucher?'

There’s an old and bitter joke that dates back to the 1930s. ‘A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours.’

Whichever euphemism is peddledby the politicians, Britons’ searches for online discount vouchers surged 47.5% over the last year, reflecting their hunger for bargains and discounts during the recession.

According to Robin Goad, director of research for the UK arm of internet intelligence service Hitwise: “Vouchers offering everything from discounts at high end retailers to two-for-one pizzas have become immensely popular, as British consumers look for the best deals to save money during the recession.

“We are seeing the emergence of the ‘maximizing consumer’; these shoppers don’t necessarily buy the cheapest products or services, but they do spend a lot of time researching online before selecting what to buy, and then a bit more time to find the best price or discounts before making a purchase.”

Targeted searches
The growth in voucher searches stems from people searching for increasingly specific deals and discounts for particular products or retailers. During July 2008, UK surfers searched for 8,300 distinct variations of search terms that contained either the word ‘voucher’ or ‘vouchers’; by July 2009, this figure had more than quadrupled to 34,200.FatKids

Says Goad: “Restaurants are the second biggest users of online vouchers after retailers, and restaurant websites now pick up 6.7% of all UK web traffic from voucher searches, up from just 1.1% a year ago.

Their success has encouraged other ‘offline’ industries to use the internet for customer acquisition. For example, searches for travel and theme park vouchers have more than doubled this year, while searches for cinema vouchers have trebled.”

The top ten UK voucher-related search terms during the four weeks ended 01-Aug-09 were:

  1. ‘Voucher codes’ (8.4%)
  2. ‘Pizza Express voucher’ (3.9%)
  3. ‘Discount vouchers’ (2.9%)
  4. ‘Vouchers’ (2.2%)
  5. ‘My voucher codes’ (2.0%)
  6. ‘Restaurant vouchers’ (1.9%)
  7. ‘Tesco vouchers’ (1.6%)
  8. ‘Pizza hut vouchers’ (1.4%)
  9. ‘Dominos vouchers’ (1.3%)
  10. ‘Tesco voucher codes’ (1.2%)

Voucher specialist sites eclipsed
“Although the popular [specialized] voucher websites remain significant players online, they no longer dominate the market,” commented Goad. “There are two reasons for this.

“The first is that consumers have become wary of the more opportunistic voucher websites, which appear high up in the search engine results for voucher related terms but often contain out of date deals – or in some cases no relevant vouchers at all.

CouponsThe other change is that the retailers themselves – both online only and high street players – are trying harder to pick up traffic from voucher searches directly, rather than pay for a link from a voucher website. Online retailers only picked up 28.2% of all UK Internet traffic from voucher searches during July 2008, but by 2009 that figure had increased to 41.5%.”

Few of the searchers are thought to be banking executives!

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