Tag Archives: Digital Media

Don’t Fall Into The One Size Fits All Strategy Trap

At the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles last week, Lionsgate’s CEO, Jon Feltheimer responded to a question with the statement that studios will likely be spending less on television ads and more on digital promotion in the future. Whether that full shift takes place in a few years or a decade, I don’t know.  But the shift has certainly begun to happen – even if it is just on an extremely small-scale. The reference Feltheimer made stemmed from his conversation about the marketing for THE HUNGER GAMES – where they spent a modest $45 Million and focused heavily on social media due to its core audience. The Chicago Tribune article covering the conference conversation leaves readers with a general feeling that the shift from TV to social has begun and is universal. Unfortunately, that ideology will lead marketers into a trap as the run to one way strategy of doing things doesn’t really make sense.

The Regal Cinemas is seen during the opening night of “The Hunger Games” in Los Angeles (JONATHAN ALCORN, REUTERS / May 4, 2012) Courtesy Chicago Tribune

Focusing on Lionsgate’s research that found that 55% of the moviegoers got “the majority of the information about their movie” online and Feltheimer’s deeming, “That made me think that the paradigm is changing even faster than we thought,” misses some of the point.

If the film did not do so well, I am sure that percentage would have been actually higher.  As the core audience is a huge digital native group, I am sure most of them got their information online or on mobile. But, movies don’t become as huge a success as THE HUNGER GAMES on that young demo alone.  They had to draw huge numbers from people outside of that group in order to generate the huge receipts.  That larger group of people actually brought the average of digital information majority gatherers down.

Taking that into account, the same marketing mix would absolutely not work across all titles as a general rule of thumb. We need to be wary of jumping into that one size fits all mentality because it could become a devastating financial loss. There is absolute opportunity for studios to refine and optimize their spends AND reach with the right bit of strategy prior to planning.

So, will social – or just digital in general – overtake spending on TV by studios?  Maybe, but probably not for quite a while. If you see a horde of people moving in that direction, make sure it still fits with your smart strategy.

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Leaders Of Media Will Get It And The Rest Will Be Pushing Buttons

Over the past couple of days, there’s been many good panels taking place at the Spring Digital Hollywood conference in Marina del Rey. I believe I heard the conference’s organizer, Victor Harwood, mention that there were over 600 participants through around five or six concurrent program lines (such as the Variety Entertainment and Technology, Connected TV – Hollywood Alliance, Content, and Urban Media summits.) There are more than plenty of sessions that could be taken in over the course of four days.  For the most part, I made it a point to check out the sessions on media/advertising – in gaming, online video and regular video inventory – and a couple of things became abundantly clear.  The major point to me is that there are many people who are focusing on the mechanics of how to pull off campaigns and not enough people who are developing media rollouts for a holistic and strategic point of view.  As more and more functions of the media business become automated, there will be a clearer delineation between those who get it and those who are just pushing buttons.

At these types of conferences, the best use of time is when there’s open discussion and even debate among the panelists.  Those times have come up a bit – and they are interesting more often than not – but there’s been a greater amount of timidity (or too much manners) on many of the panels.  In each case, the more excitement and engagement came when the audience (or strong-willed panelists) pushed the needle and added some spirit.  It forced the panelists to get beyond their surface comments and dig deeper into the hows and whats about what they were describing.  In those moments, you could begin to see the separation between the ideals and themes that will elevate further in the future and those that won’t.

Those who looked at issues of media from a holistic and strategic level that went beyond straight demos and display started to get into why a different way of thinking is required in order to excel in the digital space.  The times of planners being able to do the status quo and/or think of media in terms of how it has been thought of for decades is becoming the past.  Certainly, I’m not talking about a wholesale change.  But, if you consider the fact that exchanges for the purchasing of inventory will be automated in such a way as to emulate the financial trading systems (or exchanges) currently on Wall St, then you’ll see that there will be much more reliance on smart and nimble executives than on the “plaster the world with RFPs” mentality that is currently so common. Roger Wood , of iCrossing, talked about this in a session yesterday and Cory Treffiletti focused a bit on it in his column today.

The people we are trying to reach and the platforms on which to reach them are fragmenting so quickly that its sometimes hard to get a handle on it – much less convey the intricacies to the C-level – with the benefits and drawbacks to that fragmentation sometimes showing itself on the same side of a coin. On top of that, you figure in elements relating to social – and the opportunities become exponential. It is those who are smart about the ways to reach and engage that will stand out. Those who rely on gross numbers alone might tread water, but those who understand that managing those gross numbers AND finding ways to expand reach through intelligent execution, innovation and sound strategy will be swimming laps around the competition.

Even the establishment for what constitutes a campaign’s success continues to grow in the way of measurement options and their varying forms. While the KPIs may have been simpler or more clearly defined and consistent across campaigns, there are many more nuances to take into consideration from one campaign to another. It will require a much more strategic mind to qualify and quantify the milestones you are looking for – as opposed to just setting an impression threshold. That in itself is what will separate the opportunities in digital from what was the norm in the past.

While the mechanics are an important part of any product – whether it be a media campaign or a gizmo sold in Walmart – the overall vision is what separates ho-hum from solid or even spectacular. Those who get that, either on the client or agency side will be the ones to excel while the others will be simply going though the motions – and the differentiation will be absolutely clear.

Marketing Of Prescription Drugs Going to The Dogs

We have now become used to television commercials for prescription meds with their sadly humorous speed-reading of warnings and side-effects.  I guess that’s why the ad for Trifexis caught my eye. The spot ran just as any other prescription drug spot would run with that very same disclaimer blog – both in voice-over and text. But it left me confused because the formula they used for the ad was exactly what we see for humans all the time – not what we see for dogs. You see, Trifexis is a prescription med for canines. As I looked deeper, it pointed to something quite scary – the further societal consideration of dogs as equal to humans.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and even sort of understand how some families really do treat their dogs as if they were biological children. As I took a look at some of drug maker, Elanco’s marketing for Trifexis, I was just amazed how pets are the next frontier for prescription meds.

The spot I saw on TV was innocuous enough, with a happy family on a beautiful day.  The only problem the family faces is that the dog is being treated like the “Boy in the Plastic Bubble” (like that 1976 John Travolta TV Movie).  Through the course of the commercial, you can’t tell if the protection is for the dog or the family.  Not until the second half, when all of the legal mumbo jumbo comes in do you really get what it is.

I give them credit for not only doing something so striking in its imagery and closeness to the accepted norm for human prescriptions, but for also being consistent across all channels. Their messaging has slight changes between formats – with digital outlets being the clearest from the beginning about what it is.  The digital media creative starts off with the “in the bubble” image and “Protect Your Dog From Parasites” line of copy.

The print ad I found in Parade Magazine was a little confusing because, again, you didn’t know immediately whether the drug is for humans or dogs. The image is of a boy snuggling his dog with big gloves through the plexiglass and the tagline below reading, “Don’t let parasite protection come between you and your dog.” The campaign then goes on to follow the same format as other human drug ads with a bunch of legal on the main page and the next, a mail-in rebate offer and a little bit of marketing specific to what it actually does.

Perhaps I don’t view enough programming to have seen ads of this nature for pets before.  I know I’ve seen ads for Frontline, Advantix and other flea and tick controllers, but they just aren’t prescription meds and did not devolve into legal disclaimers. Funnily, Advantix is owned by Bayer – who knows a thing or two about marketing drugs to humans…

Is this a sign of things to come?  With prescription meds being a huge business vertical, do pet meds expand the market exponentially? Is it a way for companies that are not usually prescription drug providers to jump into the fray for a different customer? Whichever way you slice it – except for a few creative flourishes, there is bound to be many products and campaigns on their way to market that will cause us to scratch our heads in wonder.  Oh, and don’t forget, there is probably a drug for that!

In Digital Media, Old School’s Not Where Its At

I Like MediaMind. I really do. They have been tremendous partners in assisting me in numerous game-breaking marketing executions over the years.  The ability to pull off some really cool things in the media space is helped greatly by their drive for trying new things and pushing the boundaries for rich media. That’s why I can only shake my head and wonder why they are wasting time rallying about old-style data points. In this fast-paced age of digital media, why do providers keep going back to the dated modicum of click-throughs that are such old news – especially when there’s so many data points that are so much cooler. As we all try to convey the possibilities of digital media at scale, its time that we invest in the future and not go Old School.

As the leader in digital media serving around the world (especially in light of their acquisitions of large rivals over the past year), MediaMind can steer advertisers toward using metrics that matter – both in providing richer context and clearer benefits in the medium. Instead, it just feels that they are hinging on the same-old, same-old. Their recent study examined 24,000 ad creatives serving over 12 billion impressions to compare effectiveness of rich media versus standard banners in driving site traffic. The take-away was roughly the fact that users who interacted with rich media ads incorporating video were almost 6x as likely to visit the advertiser’s website than those who saw standard banners.

The entire basis of comparison is out of whack to begin with. Obviously, those who interact with rich media banners are paying attention and you can count those as a true impression (for the most part). But standard units are ignored or not even seen for most of the time. Why would you even want to compare them unless your numbers were even more exponentially higher?

Additionally, with rich media, there is so much more that matters like dwell time and even the opportunity to track type of engagement and purchase completions. I would have rather seen a straight comparison between types of rich media engagement rather than between what can technically be considered oranges (rich) and apples (standard) – and in some circles, juicy oranges and rotting apples…

Perhaps its the scale and the feeling that people are impressed by larger aggregate numbers that a CTR stat can bring you. Perhaps it is because not enough advertisers are sharing sales completion stats with MediaMind for their study. I believe we are slowly (OK, extremely slowly) moving toward planners warming to more meaningful numbers on a smaller scale than useless numbers on the large-scale. If anyone is in a place to lead the charge to more meaningful data, MediaMind (DG) would be it.

GM, Gal Trifon is quoted saying, “By investing in more engaging experiences powered by rich media and video, advertisers increase the chance that consumers will spend valuable time with their brand.” This would have sounded pretty great a few years ago, but it’s not where the planners’ or advertisers’ heads are today.  They want to know how it will enhance conversion to sales or clear ROI. Unfortunately, digital media was pitched for so long as being able to provide exact conversion data – which traditional media has not absolutely been able to do.  Because of that, those details have been waited for and they aren’t readily available.  How much longer will we be able to rely on the esoteric or the warm-fuzzy figures of dwell and engagement?

As I said at the beginning, I really like MediaMind.  I’ll just like them more when they are able to provide that real data that advertisers are looking for – even if they themselves don’t know what that is. They should take advantage of  their innovative spirit, size and market share to force that shift by providing that data that matters. They can do so much more to lead the industry into the future rather than keeping it relatively anchored to a couple of years ago.

Wanted: Strong Guidance In Slicing the Digital Video Pie

The first night of iMedia’s Video Everywhere Summit was a mess – and that’s not because of the organizers.  The mess was actually a welcome change to the norm at these types of things.  The problem was the “norm” that the mess was illustrating.  Vindico’s President, Matt Timothy, got everyone in the room to simultaneously throw “stress cubes” toward the front of the room near the beginning of his presentation.  He didn’t have to ask twice and the amount of cubes that missed the garbage cans signified what the video model is for television advertising.  In that model there’s not a real way to evaluate how many impressions were wasted (the many cubes on the floor) and how many hit their target (the few in the cans.)  He then asked everyone to do the repeat the exercise, but this time the attendees were asked to throw them randomly around the room.  This version exemplified what online video advertising impressions are like – with a lot of information going back and forth in two-way communication.  The key is tapping into that information and formulating better ways to connect with people.  All in, the example illustrated that there is so many ways we can slice the digital video distribution data pie, but there are too many people who are still looking for the cutter to slice it with.

Even with the additional data that can be culled from video campaigns – and the optimization that can come from that – the “norm” referred to above is that there is still a lot that is left on the table.  Perhaps it’s because there is too much confusion about the data, or that clients and planners just don’t have the vision to see what’s possible.  In many instances, we’re running into an issue of the chicken or the egg.  We’re not trying things because the client or their agency doesn’t deliver creative executions that would effectively enable the research, or the vendors aren’t presenting examples of solutions to the challenges the clients might not even know they have.

Many brands or advertisers are still looking for the click-through as signifiers as success, but that doesn’t work completely in the realm of video.  When you look at what companies like Vindico can do with the data, those who only look at click-through are just drinking the punch and not getting all they could be through digital video media.  In the image above, the slide is showcasing the point that those who click-through the video (represented by gray blocks) are not interacting with the brand/content as strongly as those who visit the site within 30 days of viewing a banner (red blocks.)  It’s not to say that click-throughs are bad, but they are only part of the picture. The straight click-through that might have really been an errant click while trying to close the unit result in much less interaction on the back-end. Again, this requires more knowledge on the client side and more education from the media agencies (and vendors) who are booking these media solutions.

Vindico is one of numerous video ad serving companies and they offer the support and knowledge to be able to optimize not only impressions and interaction but creative. In reality, the ad serving companies really need to become the de-facto educators for marketers and media planners about what the possibilities are. Whether through partnerships with creative vendors or just visionaries who can clearly convey what is possible, they need to be actively presenting solutions because we can’t just rely on clients or planners to package it the right way for success on their own.

The last slide of Matt’s deck had a few things of importance regarding buying video media.  The one that stuck out to me was Storytelling Innovation.  It makes perfect sense to me.  Video is the strongest storytelling format. The digital platforms only increase those storytelling mechanics through interaction. I also see huge opportunities innovation, but am frustrated because we go back to the chicken or the egg conundrum.  When I asked Matt in front of everyone to elaborate on those wonderful buzzwords – Storytelling Innovation – he did a little dance.  I understand the dancing a bit because of client sensitivities in presenting specific examples. In the end, he squeezed out a little bit of the essence by talking about branching opportunities, iterative messaging and interactivity.

After the presentation, somebody came up to me and intimated that it isn’t the job of someone like Matt to provide the examples of Storytelling Innovation – that it was up to creative agencies or media planners or the clients themselves to do that.  I whole-heartedly disagree.  Even if there were some mapped out samples with fictitious products to prove some past successes or even dreamed ones, the examples have to be drawn out.  Sadly, media planners are not built to envision those types of things and I would argue that even creatives and marketing executives don’t have a strong enough vision for matching technical capabilities with innovative storytelling.

With all of the successes that I have had in the past, I was only able to get them launched because the providers talked about possible solutions that led me to believe they could pull it off in partnership with my vendors.  I was able to crystallize the stories (and the mechanics behind them) and sell them within the company because of that shared knowledge.  If the providers don’t do a good enough job of laying the kernels of imagination and innovation in digital video media — hell, even just the basics of what can be tracked — we’ll all be destined to forever be collectively looking for that thing to slice the video pie with.

Was Discovery’s Penguin Execution A Gimmick For The Birds?

Tapping into lovers of Penguins might provide a hardcore audience, but whether it will generate buzz and a large audience for a television series remains to be seen.  Discovery has launched its digital campaign around its upcoming seven-part series, FROZEN PLANET, with a penguin-centric core.  Beginning yesterday and through the month of April, they will presenting a 24/7 feed of the Penguin cam from San Diego’s Sea World and will introduce an online game called Criminal Penguins.  All of it is a cut way to engage fans ahead of the season launch, but will it be anything more than a gimmick?

I value what fun can be had by viewing the USTREAM live video for a bit, but will it entice viewers to watch the show that covers much more than cute penguins and delves into quite serious subject matter?  My 3 year-old daughter has already loved it and grown tired of it in the past 10 minutes this morning.  It seems that the game – which is coming out next week – would also be targeted at children.  I just question if it is much ado about nothing.

It could be great if they were to place more cameras or even show views from other SeaWorld penguin locations to provide more variance.  If the focus is on penguins, I wish there were also some conservancy components that I could check out with the family.  Having seen a number of USTREAM Live offerings, I am surprised by the jumpy video quality and the pixelation.  While you see penguins from a distance and hope that you can see one up close, when they do come close to the camera, you can barely make out their features.

On the surface, I think the partnership is a strong one that will bring value from the parks and other considerations.  With all the advancements in technology with multi-screen and toggling capabilities, I just feel that this execution could have been so much more to fit with the times. They do link out to SeaWorld site pages for more information, but the promotion could have leveraged the technology to convey much more than the opportunity to interact with information and “get to know” the five Antarctic species represented in stronger ways than just listing their names.

My daughter is now back in front of the computer watching the stream, jumping up and down and screaming Happy Feet!  I guess the promotion is working for something.  I just wish Discovery had gone further than the surface to present something truly special, unique and meaningful in the way they have proven they can on TV.

Without the well thought out integration and holistic environment, it just does seem like a gimmick that will easily be forgotten by the time the new show airs – leaving me to think that it was all for the birds…

Uncovering the Next Great Digital Product Marketing Platform

What makes digital marketing both exciting and frustrating is the quickly growing different opportunities to get your product to market and the challenges to keep up with those ever-growing outlets.  Marketers have a tough time keeping up with this quarter’s hot properties and digital extensions – let alone having the opportunity to research or know about all of the latest and, perhaps, most cost-effective way to spread the word about their product.  There are platforms that can be leveraged popping up all the time and companies need to be open to finding them.  In one case, a large company has created such a platform for enabling other companies to spread the word in an unexpected way. With the enticement to Get On The Shelf, Walmart’s recently launched online contest enables companies to vie for inclusion in the retail giant’s site, receive shelf space in the stores and more.

The contest allows people to place videos touting their products of any kind – with any level of production value – and enter a fan voting mechanism that is meant by Walmart to mimic that of AMERICAN IDOL (whose newest season began last night – the same day as the Walmart press release.)  After an entry period that ends February 22nd, there will be two votes that winnow down finalists in the same structure as the Idol juggernaut.  In this case, your product can become a star – at least at Walmart – but there’s more value than that.

Beyond the face of the contest, it provides some great secondary benefits that Walmart is calling out on the site and some that are not.  In some ways, it’s a benefit even for those who don’t win. By allowing virtually anyone to place their products on the site for judgement by the public, it’s a defacto bit of market research on a larger scale than the North Carolina woman selling a marmalade could ever hope for.  The opportunities  go way beyond local mom-and-pop endeavors.

A product called Sifteo Cubes is one of the entrants and I had seen them before.  Wherever I had seen them, I did not get a full picture of what they actually did.  By coming across them here, I became more intrigued.  So, that extra point of contact with a consumer in a different way could be helpful. Additionally for a company that might already have their product established on a small-scale, Walmart says they will help selected companies scale up production. Beyond possibly gaining another distribution outlet, companies could parlay the interest from the site – votes, views, etc. – to receive further financing or learn how they might be able to better position the product.

Now its up to Walmart to do their part by getting the word out and driving traffic to this site.  It’s all fine and dandy to say you are doing it – and it is some nice spin for them to intimate that they are helping the local smaller companies – but it really means nothing more than a press release if they don’t advertise it properly.  I have no idea whether they have a spend against AMERICAN IDOL on Fox, but it would make sense to include at least one spot to tout this contest.  Could the price of the spot be too high for something like this?  Maybe.  I believe they are doing this as a brand extension and promotion, so if the spot is constructed the right way, it makes perfect sense to run a spot themed to Get On The Shelf.

Unless you are concerned about others with deeper pockets duplicating your product – which should lead you to question how sound your business plan in – it doesn’t hurt to leverage these types of opportunities.  In the least, you are garnering free video views for your product with opportunities for tremendous upside. With marketing platforms like this, you’ve got to be open to finding them, vetting whether they are good for your company or product and then setting realistic goals for what you want to get out of it.  If you’re only aiming for the goal of winning the contest – in this case – you are wasting some precious opportunities (market and positioning research, word of mouth, buzz).

That next great digital marketing platform could be right under your nose.  Don’t let your eye on the (perceived) prize blind you from the opportunities that can come from the most random of places.