Monthly Archives: December 2008

For 2009, Predict and then Plan…

I know everyone will be talking about this today, but then again maybe there’s a reason for that. On New Years people like to reflect on the past, and look forward to the future.

Something is different this New Years eve however, with all the doom and gloom we hear in the media about the economy most people are not excited for what’s in store in 2009.

All we hear is that 09 is going to be bad economically, with higher unemployment rates and more companies needing to be bailed out. So what should we do during this time of reflection and projection, as we leave a mediocre 2008 and head into what looks to be a turbulent 2009?

Well, we must all keep our heads down (or up?) and move forward. We must use this as an opportunity to push new ideas that would have never been accepted when things were going well. Now is a great opportunity, because nothing opens up a CEO’s ear more to new ideas than a few turbulent quarters.  Now;s your turn to capitalize on it.

With that in mind here is my hopes and dreams of things that will happen in 2009 in the marketing world.

1.It will get worse before it gets better, but in 09 companies will beat themselves up with so many sales and discounts that they won’t work anymore (if they still are) and they will eventually understand they need to be listening and interacting with their customers.
2.Traditional media (TV, Radio, Paper, etc.) will continue to hop on the online bandwagon, the only difference is some of them will get it right. We will see more products like Hulu, and some big newspaper company will hire a big online exec and go 100% online. The line between traditional media and new media will merge.
3.Use of social media will continue to rise, and companies will find it impossible to ignore the online conversations going on about their companies.
4.Online video advertising will continue to rise as TV ad budgets are cut, and companies still want that rich visual connection with the public.
5.By the end of 2009 companies will stop acting scared and will start investing in things like marketing, R&D, and employees. (Smart companies never stopped)

Now I will take this list, and others I have, and will make plans for 2009 based on it. These plans will be both for me personally and for my clients and company. I encourage you to make your own list of projections and then figure out ways to capitalize on them.

Make 2009 a great year!

BTW, my 2009 goals for this blog are to write more, continue to improve my writing skills (or lack thereof), and finally update the theme.

Who should control Social Media? PR, Marketing, Customer Service?

For some reason the question of where to place of social media on a company org chart is a thing of much debate. I have read post about how it should be in PR and I have also read people blog that it should be in customer service. I haven’t seen any post about it going under marketing, but then again, using social media for marketing is something that is done, but no one likes to talk about.

Let’s step back and reevaluate this for a moment however, why are we trying to fit the square peg that is social media, into a round whole that is PR, marketing, and customer service? Sure social media can be used to accomplish all three, but aren’t we constraining the benefits if we put aPR, marketing, or customer service in charge of it?

Or even worse, some larger companies put all three departments in charge of it. I was at a panel discussion the other week, and heard about how Microsoft does this. They have social media people in all three groups. They have enough money to start a separate social media department. Why don’t they?

How do companies benefit from having one person/department monitor and interact with people in a customer service realm, and then a different person/department on the PR side? How are meaningful relationships going to be made when the people doing these interactions only have them when discussing certain topics?

Sure some companies don’t have the funds to develop their own social media department with a C level exec etc., but they do need to give control to someone.

This person may report to a Marketing or PR Exec, but this social media guru must have control and knowledge of all three areas online. If not relationships will not be made, and certain areas of opportunities in social media will be missed.

Only by seeing all the opportunities in social media, and taking part in all of them, will social media then benefit companies in the way they are hoping.

Let’s look to Newspapers for the future of Display Ads

In order to stop display ads from withering on the vine publishers and advertisers must get more creative with online ads, and one good place to look for ideas is traditional media.

As Mitch talked about in his blog post, display ads are in trouble.

Are they going to go away?  No, banner ads are the primary vehicle to obtain reach online, and can carry a brand message to millions online.  Yet no matter what we do creatively, or how we push the limits of behaviorally targeting, display ads still seem incomplete.

Why is that?  Why do we as marketers feel like we are missing something with a banner ad, that we get with a TV ad?

Some of it has to do with advertisers giving way to much credit to TV ads. Are they all that much more effective than a well done roadblock or pre-roll ad online?  Maybe a little, but  TV advertising has had over 50 years to perfect it’s approach.

So what must be done to evolve display ads so they are more effective? First we need to think outside the current IAB box for display ads.  Publishers also need to work in tandem with advertisers to find the best placements.  They can no longer say, we place banners here, skyscrapers here, and big boxes here.

I know some publishers are offering this, and pretty much anyone would for the right price, but it needs to be easier.  Why not open up the entire page to ads, and charge different rates for different areas of the page?  Then publishers could make the content fit around that? Obviously their needs to be some limitations to this, but this same approach has been done for years in print.

A newspaper advertiser can choose pretty much any placement for an ad, as long as they stay to within basic column and row heighth specifications.  This gives the advertiser much more flexibility to create ads that grab attention.  Plus it makes it harder for readers to train themselves to ignore certain sections of a page where an the ad is always placed.

Sure to deploy this on websites would involve customized site layouts for each approach, but how hard would it be to come up with 30 different layout options for each placement? Again, the papers do it.

And this is just one option.  Other creative ideas such as unique shapes and sizes of creative need to be developed as well.  What about instead of a box or rectangle we use a circle, or even the shape of a logo? Sure that would not work for everyone, but over the years we have trained viewers to stop paying attention to colored boxes and rectangles online.  How do we break this pattern?

Only by getting creative, and thinking about new implementation ideas beyond IAB standards, are publishers going to be able to differentiate and take control back from the ad networks.

Too much inventory, too many sites, too many options.  Yes, that is a problem, but if can increase demand by using more effective placements and creative some of those problems will go away.

Traditional Media don’t be Scared!

Why is it that traditional media and new media just can’t get along? Why is it that I go to countless presentations by TV and Radio stations and all they ever try to do is justify their existence?

It’s always about reach! They say “you can’t get reach like this anywhere else” (who are they kidding?). Or they try to sell their personal connection with their audience. I love when they say their website, has more dedicated followers that trust them and is more valuable than a typical website.

Seriously? When was the last time you felt a personal connection to a traditional media’s website more than say a social website?

Traditional media is not dead by any stretch of the imagination, nor will it be anytime soon, but with this type of talk they are sure digging their grave rather fast. Why aren’t they figuring out ways to develop deeper relationships and connections with their audience?

It’s because they are scared of loosing audience to other sites and using other formats they do not control. Sure they have all added blogs, but why won’t they reach out to their audience and connect in a more meaningful way? Why not have Facebook groups, Twitter profiles etc.?

No one wants to read a blog that talks about the same things they do on the air. They read a blog to find out what their DJ or news Anchorman is really like. Or at the very least to get a behind the scenes look at what is going on at the station.

I listen to the Hot AC radio station here in Seattle, (only in the morning mind you, it wakes me up) with an ideal Facebook demo, and they do not even have a Facebook Group that I can find. Their morning Jocks have Facebook profiles but they are private. (I would try to friend them, but don’t want that showing up on my profile!)

TV is the same way. I have a friend who is a Weatherman, and I have been trying to convince him to join Twitter. He could be the Weatherman for Twitter, and connect with his audience on a deeper way, but as of yet he has not done it.

Why do these traditional media formats avoid these social platforms? It’s all about controlling the audience. They still think they have control like they did 20 years ago, and sadly refuse to wake-up to the idea that they are now just a small part of people lives.

Only by embracing other media formats, and loosing control will they truly develop a deep relationship with their audiences. Once that relationship is established they will then have something more valuable then reach, they will have insight and a connection on a personal level.

In traditional media?  Let me know what you think.

Kevin Urie