adserving, advertising, broadcasting, targeting

Sex addicted, debt-ridden, body-obsessed, astigmatic, game-playing gadget-phile: but enough about me, what does advertising say about you?

What_ads_say_about_me some recent ads that define me.  or do they?

what does advertising say about me?  that's the question I'm increasingly asking myself as the broadcast model wanes and targeted advertising becomes the norm.  I'm imagining a future where my Glee is interrupted by messages from fat-burning miracle powders, or where my 30 mins with Modern Family is interspersed with messages for help with sex-addiction or an encouragement to buy some oil shares.

you see the ad-serving paradigm – with which anyone who has worked in online advertising will be more than familiar – will in the future spread beyond the computer screen.  to hand-held devices and then, as IPTV gains traction, to TV screens.

it's one thing to see niche targeted ads on my computer screen; it will be quite another to see them on my TV…  but as the ability to target on TV becomes widespread, niche advertisers will increasingly be able to ad-serve specific messages to targeted audiences at a fraction of the cost of even a small TV campaign today.

on one hand the future is potentially very bright…  we engage more with brands that we like and therefore, theoretically, as ads become more targeted and better tailored to our interests and passions, advertising will be more engaging and, theoretically, more engaged with.

at least that's the theory.

but there's a potential downside…  the lowering in the cost of entry will allow hundreds of advertisers who previously couldn't, to advertise on TV.  the result is inevitable, a lowering in the average quality of the ads that get produced.  this is inevitable.

to escape the race to the bottom, we're going to need choice…  the only solution to such a wave of ads will be to have choice over which ones we receive.  there's a double benefit – for advertisers there will be increased engagement (we do engage more with ads that we've chosen to watch), and for audiences there will be the algorithm…

because unlike broadcast, where we all have to endure the same ads as everyone else, an ad-served model offers the possibility of a world where only content that get engaged with (clicked on, liked etc) gets further propagated.  if Google served TV ads (beyond their current very limited scope) they'd use a quality score (based on relevance and preformance of the ads) to propagate ads that are reaching the right people and being engaged with, and suppress ones that aren't.  and that can only be a good thing?  can't it?

out of interest, what does advertising say about you?

content creating, engaging, innovating, planning

Ideas not Impacts: what JibJab and MadMen can teach us about a world where multiple smaller ideas are better

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

so a little while back, Lauren sent me the attached clip showing us both and the rest of the Twitterpod here at PHD Australia as we'd be cast in MadMen.  it's pretty funny and pretty cool and anything that puts me in the same frame as Don Draper is to be welcomed.

but it got me thinking about how much this little video can tell us about the emerging media paradigm that's challenging brands, agencies and the media industry…  I think it can tell us a lot about idea-driven planning and the importance of doing multiple smaller things not fewer bigger things.  let me explain.

if you've worked in media as long as I you were probably taught that the role of media planners is to link three things together.  link the brand to the right media in order to reach enough of the right people, enough of whom will then do or think what the brand requires of them to make the media investment worthwhile.  a bit like this.

Media_old_skool how I was taught: the right brand in the right media reaching enough of the right people

it's a model driven by impacts – the more impacts the better, which is all well and good.  but the above video JibJab video doesn't work like that at all.  the brand (MadMen) is there, but media is replaced with a platform – in this case the JibJab video utility / site – and the audience is replaced with the few individuals who get exposed to the video via the link that the originator sends…  so the model looks more like this.

Media_new_skool how it think it is now: brands using platforms to plug ideas into networks of individuals

this is a model driven by ideas not impacts…  rather than having an audience who receive a message, we instead have a few individuals who engage with it.  and whilst on the face of it the overall impact is a lot less, this isn't necessarily the case – a few quick numbers…

in the first model let's say you deliver one million impacts.  at a click thru rate of 0.1% a you'll get about 1,000 people to click thru to the place or space a brand wants them to go (I appreciate that this misses the brand effect of the other 999,000 people who see the banner ad but run with it) … the JibJab MadMen requires only 250 to make a video and send it to the three other friends who are in it reach the same number of people.

the emerging model also offers significant benefits.  the first is in targeting.  from a brand perspective, this model is a lot more likely to reach people who are into the product (in this case MadMen).  the second is the level of engagement with the content – and in this instance people are part of the content, which I'd suggest makes it pretty engaging.  the third is that it's inherently viral, the products of the model are things that people will want to share and propagate throughout their networks of friends and peers.

the challenge is that you simply don't reach enough people, but you can always amplify…  there's no reason why you couldn't use the one-to-many model to showcase certain videos, perhaps even as a promotion or competition mechanic.

there's a big implication too.  there's no way that this model replaces the scale and reach of the broadcast model, but that can't be ours to mourn…  if scale is what you're after then there's only two ways to get it.  either you have the best ideas (in the long tail of an ideas ecology the impact of the few biggest ideas will greatly exceed the individual impact of any of the majority of others), or you create more ideas.

in that context, screw fewer bigger better … the best performing brands will be those that can scale the output of the quantity of their ideas.  a marketing effort spread across multiple smaller ideas will be better, and a great deal less risky, than the same effort invested in fewer bigger ideas.  not sure what Don would have to say about that…

measuring, reaching

The tyranny of reach; and how Australian Advertisers are in terrible danger of walking straight into its trap

Apples_and_pears apples and pears.  anyone with a suggestion on how to directly compare every form of media that exists is invited to contact the AANA.  suggestions on Middle-East Peace are also welcome.

news – via B&T – at the end of last week that the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) is forming a sub-committee to "bring media to account".  according to the article, the Media Reference Group will be tasked with "creating a tool that can compare all media with an 'apples versus apples' method."

good luck with that.

you can only sympathise with advertisers' frustration…  how do you compare different and diverging media offerings?  the caveats and conditions that you have to put on any calculation make it – to all intents and purposes – impossible; and more – and more rapidly changing – media options only makes this harder over time.

but there's two very related things that are very worrying about the announcement.  the first is the statement – by ANNA boss Scott McClellan – that advertisers are "frustrated with claims from all media that the level of consumption is stable … there are only a limited number of eyeballs.  how can numbers be stable if the number of media is growing?"  hmmm.

second, the example that McClellan uses when he observes that "in terms of TV advertising it used to take six weeks to reach the target audience now that is pushing out to 10 weeks.  for premium inventory there is limited access so we are having to do so over a longer period of time, so rates are going up.  all this is starting to grate."

there.  he said it.  look closely.  "it used to take six weeks to reach the target audience".

ah, reach.  and the tyranny of it.

it links both the key issues that are wrong with last week's statement because (1) the frustration is that it's getting more expensive to reach more of the people more of the time is absolutely true, but there's no counting your way out of it (fragmentation is, unfortunately, a bitch like that) and (2) because reach is no doubt what the group is mistakingly trying to measure.  and that's why the statement fails to understand the apparent contradiction of more media but stable consumption of media.

reach isn't – in the main – falling.  in fact in many ways it's going up.  because we're consuming more media more of the time; whether its watching TV with a laptop in our, well, laps … or glancing at posters with a mobile app in hand.  we're also creating unprecedented levels of media ourselves, but that's off piste right now.  the point is that it is these behaviours that are keeping media reach – in many instances – stable.  reach isn't what's falling, attention is.

and this is what's most worrying about the statement.  the group claims that what AANA "are hoping to achieve is some agreed principles for indicating the criteria on which advertisers will buy going forward."  I hope for their sake that they choose not to base that criteria on reach.  because there's a lot more of it around and therefore a lot more to buy – and be under no illusion, premium access to reach will maintain it's price-tag.

this is the tyranny of reach.  it is, as Admiral Ackbar would say, a trap.  as long as it remains our default method of measurement, our modus enumeri if you like, we will eternally be lamenting our collective inability to stretch fewer resources over more places in more ways.

the problem for advertisers, and indeed for all of us, is that we need to focus our attention on things we can measure that count.  things like engagement, or influence, or sales.  but if we think that comparing and evaluating reach across media is hard let's not even start on any of these.  and no at the back – econometrics doesn't count because it doesn't universally measure all media opportunities; too many a good media has been taken off of a schedule because that particular computer model said no.

the bottom line is that you simply can't compete on reach.

well that's not true… you can.

you just won't win.