Monthly Archives: March 2009

Free your content – and what will follow?

Earlier this week,an assembled panel of experts grappled with the possibilities and limitations of freeconomics, the concept that giving content and services away for free is the key to success in the future.

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Knee-Jerk Thinking

You know when you go to the doctor and he checks your responses? He gets out a little rubber hammer, taps your knee, and your legs flies up in the air. This is called a knee-jerk response.

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Is it time for a new breed of online display advert?

Online display advertising has in the past been somewhat restricted by the speed of loading and the avoidance of disrupting the user experience. It has done well over the last decade even if for some marketers it is still one of the most underrated branding tools. When you compare the amount of the page space an internet advert dominates in comparison to a half, one or two page advert in print you can understand why this opinion exists.

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One day, years ago, my Uncle Mick said to me: “How’s your advertising agency going, Dave?” It was GGT at the time, and I said: “Yeah, it’s going great Uncle Mick.”

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Adland’s crystal balls are well and truly broken

So how long did it take for the world’s advertising outlook to turn to mush? Less than seven months if this week’s dramatically revised forecasts by Carat are anything to go by.

The last time the Aegis agency kindly shoneits specialist light onto global ad spend was 27 August 2008. Back then, the agency cautiously downgraded its 2009 worldwide prediction from 4.9% growth to 4.8%.One winter, seven months and several bank collapses later, and the picture is decidedly darker.

Carat now expects global ad spend to fall 5.8% this year, with drops in every major market except China.More specifically, rather than the UK enjoying2.2% growthtipped last summer, we cannow expect the market to contract7.1%, according to the agency; a huge revision withfar reachingimplications.And manybelieve it’s still optimistic.

Let’s not forget this already follows drops of 5.5% in UK ad spend in 2008, the biggest decline of any major market other than Spain.

Of course, Carat’sjust the first of many advertising forecasters set to be woefully out of kilter in 2009,underlining thespeed with whichadvertising conditions deteriorated in thesecond half of 2008.

But you can hear the resignation of a lead agencybaffled whenthe normally bullishCEO of Aegis Media, Jerry Buhlmann, cushions this latest report withthe disclaimer “of course, these predictions themselves are just that: our best guess at this point in time, in a market we know to be uncertain”.

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Should we just let them die?

Newspapers, that is. Print costs are soaring, ad revenue is plummeting and readers are getting it for free online. The end has oft been heralded but this time it could be for real. In fact, we’ve already seen several go under Stateside and even more are struggling. Even our own Independent is mooting a shift online. Is it a bad thing? Isn’t it simply the natural shift from one medium to another? Obviously the real problem is keeping the generation of quality news content profitable – with a sustainable advertising model. Oh, and making sure there’s still somewhere for me to get my next free CD/DVD! The web moves at such a pace too. Isn’t there something reassuring about the calm, considered and well crafted writing of a broadsheet journalist versus the bang-it-out-quick-alism of a web hack?

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Famous for five minutes

I’ve been thinking about longevity for some time now. I was finally inspired to write something about it after a tweet earlier today from the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss who commented: “It’s great that Spotify is doing well, but I’m not interested in hearing music I know. I want to find new music, and radio rocks.”

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Where’s the advertising in online advertising?

(I’ve copied and pasted this from a great blog.It’s full of radical common sense because it’s written by a guy from Brooklyn.)

I have an odd thought about online advertising. What if there’s no such thing? What if it’s really a whole lot of other things? Let’s start at the beginning. In TV, radio or magazines, product marketing is primarily one thing — ads. Sure, there is some product placement and some pr, but 98% of the “marketing content” is ads.

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Editor’s blog: This Fred Goodwin rage has gone too far

Well, that’s going to make us all feel a lot better.

Sometimes I despair of the Brits’ love of scapegoating. Together with an overdeveloped sense of schadenfreude it’s one of our grimmer national traits. What those idiots did to Goodwin’s house is the modus operandi that was approved of by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness before they attempted to become respectable.

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Skittles, famous for 15 days?

Skittles, famous for 15 minutes?

So yes, I’m jumping on a bandwagon and my title should get me on their feed when we announce this blog post on Twitter later today. And obviously I’m mature enough to refrain from saying thatthey’re the root of all evil, taste of acidor that the old TV ads where the woman whispered ‘taste the rainbow’ at the end really made my skin crawl. In fact (just as an aside) any TV ad that includes whispering of any kind immediately makes me want to throw up or cut off my own ears, and that includes ‘sexy’ talking that M&S are so proud of…
I decided to write this post because I think it’s been long enough since the initial flurry of media commentary to evaluate what I think is an excellent social media case study, and I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a while. I’m fully aware that I’m just one of thousands who are doing the same, and whenIAB marketing director Kieron Matthews wrote about the application a couple of weeks ago, the response to it was incredibly mixed. The terms ‘creativerip-off’ and ‘strategic failure’ were bandedaround simply because a similar idea had been executed before… which confuses me slightly. Does this mean a brand’s own website is a creative rip-off? And every time a brand launches a group on MySpace, or Facebook, should be criticised because people have been doing it for ages? Should we disregard banners entirely because my God they are SUCH old news!? And what about search, people have been doing it for years now, how totally dull! (‘No’ is the answer to all those previous questions by the way, the IAB loves search and online display advertising, always has and always will!)
This constant quest for uncovering the ‘next big thing’, strivingto come up with something completely new and conquering online’s unchartered territory is, quite frankly, what may be putting some brands off. Why does there seem to be so much pressure to try something so creatively mindblowing and technologically advanced that no one has ever dreamt about before, let alone incorprated it into their marketing plans? For those of us who work in digital 24/7, pushing those boundaries may seem like the only option, but for marketers who need to justify budgets and prove theirreturn on investment in some way, maybe now is not the time to criticise brands who are learning from the work of others andadapting it to suit their own strategic objectives.
And of course there was the big ‘hoo ha’ surrounding the comments people made on the various social media properties, whichapparently meant the campaign was not a success. Shock horror, someone said the word ‘c*nt!’ Because of course, any kind of bad language or negative response simply doesn’t exist in our wonderful little advertising bubble! In my opinion not moderating or censoring the UGC was the best thingthatSkittles could have done, and rather than resulting in a big old public relations mess, actually made them stand out as a brand that is happy to open its eyes and ears to exactly what normal human beings may say to each other from time to time. Does anyone really believe that a statement such as ‘Hey! I love iced gems, this campaign was great so let’s all buy them!’ posted on some forum or other will actually have any impact whatsoever, whereas ‘Skittles: Eating one at a time or going for the full cheeked, teeth crinkling, power rush sensation?’ and ‘In business bored. William just handed me a skittles wrapper and said it was a fruit flavored condom. I’m worried.’ which Ifound on Twitter today,are a lot more authentic.
My point here is similar to previous points of mine, which is, why can’t we just applaud stuff that’s good!? The fact is that this recent activity probably had about as much impact as a TV ad would:it made them famous for a while, plusit was more interesting and actually got people involved.The debate about whether it’s worked is ongoing, and some make the point that all these online conversations were about the nitty gritty of execution and inevitable reaction rather than the content itself. But at least there were conversations, which the Skittles brand had sparkedand facilitated. Do I like Skittles? No, I hate the things, they taste horribly weird and are far too chewy. But do I respect Skittles as a brand, maybe even like them a bit more? Most definitely. What will be interesting now is how they sustain this chatter and keep consumers interested in the long-term.

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