Archive for November, 2007

Recognizing great work

So like many I’m a sucker for a good campaign and as a professional of the industry (and frustrated creative director since here at Just Media we do, well, ‘just media’) I do recognize excellence when I see it.

Today I’m congratulating the folks behind the new Guinness campaign. I came across this as an in-banner video on the Newsnow football (soccer) feed. Obviously well targeted to male sports fans (high likelihood of drinking beer in pubs) it immediately caught my attention.

The ad shows a classic build on the old Domino tumbling game that most guys are sure to have played when they were kids (probably girls as well but I have not checked this fact). In this version the ‘domino’s’ consisted of books, cars, fridges, wardrobes and other assorted items. Apparently shooting this ad, which also featured as a TV spot was the most expensive in Guinness history.

Once I clicked on the ad it took me to a game where I was offered the chance to win a sold gold domino if I solved 11 clues. OK so I’ve only had time to solve four so far but I’m already hooked.

Here’s the really clever stuff. These clues include a search feature which drives you to Google results. The agency has bought keyword ads which are the path to the results. In one case it links to You Tube where the clue is hidden in another video.

It’s rare to find a creative so well leveraged across different media types, much less for the team behind the game to spend the time to build out a complex solution encompassing the latest web technologies both in terms of ad creative, and integration into the campaign. The landing page also features great flash creative work.

In a word this brilliant campaign shows just how sophisticated marketing programs are now becoming and also show why both media and creative agencies are working harder now than ever before to create truly unique and multi layered programs.

Hats off to the media and creative teams working on Guinness. I for one salute your endeavours…

Oh by the way did I mention the viral aspect of this ?????

Mixing media and politics

This is a subject I could probably write about all day. I have often been told that here in the US it’s high risk to talk about religion or politics – but what’s a good blog without some controversy !!

So here’s the scene. I’m talking campaign tactics with one of our many creative partners who have a target of senior business decision makers and wanted to consider a variety of media formats. As the conversation turned to TV, I naturally named some stations I’d suggest we consider….

“CNN, MSNBC, Fox News “…

“Oh no” countered my creative friend “I don’t want to support them”

“me neither but they do offer up a strong profile”

And so here’s the dilema for media folks. Sometimes we are faced with using media vehicles we ourselves don’t subscribe to or even support. This is true whatever political side this takes. And it’s a tough call. In most cases there are viable alternatives which means we could justify the choices we make even though we know the real reason is our feeling of discomfort with the content rather than the audience. And yes supporting media with advertising dollars does support the message they promote so I don’t subscribe to the “it should only be about the audience” argument.

But who’s call is it and also are we always consistent? In my own case I’m not. Just a few months ago we recemmended a radio buy using right wing talk radio because the target audience was exactly who we needed to reach (concerned older consumers who would look at an online security product to protect their online banking proceedures). In this case the campaign success required me to “suck it up”.

At the same time we planned another campaign targeting consumers who might install solar panels and it was great pleasure that I could place media buys into public radio and liberal radio stations. Even up the score so to speak.

OK so you probably summize that I’m a bit of a lefty (part of that famous left wing media bias eh !). Actually I’m not really, but then in a country with only two parties it’s hard to not fall into one camp or the other…

And that my friends is really my biggest problem with media and politics….where’s the hghly analytical middle ground that I can support ??? Where’s the good old fashioned “unbiased anti political establishment media” that questions all our leaders and really holds them accountable. Don’t see to much of that these days and we are all the worse off for it.

IT Magazines – marketers it’s use them or lose them !

On 13th November I received an innocuous looking email from one of my good friends at IDG announcing the closure of a couple of magazines in Finland including the IT magazine Itviikko. The email went on to explain that the market now supported only one remaining print magazine targeting IT pro’s.

On the face of it this news is somewhat mundane..or is it.

Earlier in the year I was also told about some important changes in France. Groupe Tests, the leading IT publisher in the market was also consolidating it’s business. Several magazine closures would be taking place. The result- only one major magazine now servicing IT pro’s in France (IDG does have a small CIO title.

Now putting into context that France is the 7th biggest economy in the world then it starts to sink in just how significant the shift away from print advertising is impacting the choices available to marketers and agencies.

Should anyone care ?

Well at Just Media we have categorically proved to numerous clients the value of print as part of the marketing mix. Our research on campaign performance (which we label under the term ROMO or return on marketing objective) shows that print is significantly more effective at shifting awareness and brand attributes than any online campaign including rich media and video. Sadly we seem to be amongst the few pushing these facts into the market.

One thing is clear though…publishers are in the business of making money and if marketers fail to use print magazines then the option will simply not exists in the future.

Here in the US 2007 has seen some major closures including Info World, Intelligent Enterprise, Optimize and Network Computing. Most other magazines have adjusted circulations, reduced size or trimmed page counts. The changes are numerous and obvious…options are being compromised.

The worry is that no one will realize what they have lost until it’s too late.

Use them or lose them folks !!!

Technorati blog claim

Just a basic post to claim rights to this blog by linking with Technorati.

Technorati Profile

Let’s see if it works !

Old habits and XP die hard

So I’ve been wanting to help my parents get back into ‘life with a PC’ for the last few months, coaxing them gently towards the internet, online photo exchange (so they can see the grandkids) and perhaps even Sunday morning IP video calls.

First step on this journey is getting them a PC and after several weeks of looking I finally settled on a AMD powered Dell which was on special offer for less than $500 or 250 of my fairest British pounds – remarkable !

But why bore you with such details? Here’s the rub..the reason I spent so much time trying to find a laptop was because I didn’t want to get one with Vista. Call me old fashioned but I’m quite comfortable with XP. I know how it works, I know it’s limitations (which are pretty few) but mostly I’m just not convinced my parents need anything more. I’ve plenty of software lying around they can use and it’s always been pretty rock solid for running all the aps I’ve ever needed.

Apparently I’m not alone. Apple have already started poking fun in their latest ads and whilst I was searching for machines at my local Fry’s one sales person described Vista as a “train wreck” whilst another told me an amusing story about a shipment of Lenovo machines which came in loaded with XP and had been sold in a matter of days.

But is Vista really that bad or are we also experiencing a realization amongst users that if the technology ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Like I say there’s nothing right now compelling me to buy Vista. I’m not suffering productivity losses, my web experiences are just fine, I can edit and manipulate video, speak to family members in a variety of global locations, manage my database of songs and run all manner of cool games…I’m a happy camper. There’s no way my parents will have higher demands than me, however I will be able to offer them “knowledgeable son tech support” with XP and set up the machine before they even get it…

It will be interesting to see how Vista adoption changes over time. As more software and products are configured for Vista then it will undoubtedly seep into our lives. I think it’s just interesting to note that even as technology advances, our productivity comfort zone and habitual usage patterns may mean we resist this constant market push for change.

Managing bandwidths

One of the joys of being CEO is looking into the proverbial crystal ball and planning staffing levels on accounts with limited information on future activity.

One thing we do know is that our business – now over 50% dedicated to managing online and lead gen programs – has shifted dramatically in terms of man hours required to run succesful campaigns. This change from even two years ago, when over 70% of our business was managing traditional print, out of home or radio campaigns, has led to very different work flow patterns. Whereas traditional media buying was front loaded, pre-buy, in terms of planning, execution and time investment – online media is weighted more heavily in terms of optimization, reporting, campaign management and analytics – mostly post-buy services.

The big problem for the CEO is gauging staffing levels on accounts where spends are migrating. One client this year shifted from 80/20 print to online to 35/75 towards online. Not only does this shift change the staffing needs it also requires different skill sets.

Another consideration is the nature of the buys. Many online campaigns are short and sharp. Briefs come in and plans go live in days rather than weeks. They stop just a quickly. The teams need to be agile but can be quiet for weeks and then slammed – especially at the end of each quarter when last minute budgets flow in from all sides.

Over the last 12 months we have added several new staff members all concentrating on online services but it’s still a nightmare trying to juggle staff bandwidths to match workflow. It’s not going to get any easier in 2008…

Do I get any sympathy?….as one of my team told me just last week – “that’s why you get paid the big bucks….”

bugger – no sympathy there then !

Online mind games

I spend hours every day on the web. Like most people I enjoy the many facets of this new media delivery platform…and as a result my mind is engaged in a whole variety of ways. Think about it for one second:

Am I really in the same frame of mind when I’m writing email to my friends via my hotmail account as I am when I’m reading political stories in my online newspaper The Guardian . How about when I’m reading about my favourite English football team on blogs, or checking out the weather, or buying a book or, heaven forbid, doing some research for work. Add in the fact that I can now listen to the radio, watch a video or move into creative mode – well like now – and it’s literallly almost limitless the way this media can work different areas on my brain.

All very well..but what about the advertising. In most places I see the same old banners running, advertising low rate mortgages, anti spam solutions and any number of holiday destinations I’d be lucky to get home alive from.

In my business we try to reach people in certain frames of mind (normally just before they decide to buy something they didn’t know they wanted or needed) however on the web the delivery of the message is often designed to run homogeonously across multiple sites. Also we judge performance across the range of sites without adding in any factor as to how well we have succeeded in embedding the message into the targets mind. Something just does not feel right with that.

Recent research we have done shows online is less effective at leaving awareness signals in the targets brain than say traditional print media (by far a more one dimensional media vehicle). One wonders though to what extent is this a function of media or of the mind.

Mind you when it comes to the web do we really mind at all ?

Day 1

I have often been told I have opinions and that I should, rather than rant at the odd poor client or salesperson, do something more and write them down. Well now thanks to some prompting by my buddy Dan Ortega (VP Marcoms at Astoria Software) I’m plunging into the wild world of online blogging. It’s kinda ironic that I have chosen Google’s blogging service, given that I am at some point bound to fling dirt at them, however I’ve always been happy being my own biggest hypocrit so might as well start how I mean to continue.

So let’s see just where this goes. Even money says this dies a fast death as work, wife and kids eat my time. Low odds that this might just allow me a venue to spout off about media issues and my thoughts and views and a huge longshot that anyone ever reads it apart from me.

Hell, I guess as a media CEO I can always make it a point of order for my team to read anything I write up here so at least I get some traffic and continue to inflate my already monsterous ego….!!!

Let the fun begin