Monthly Archives: November 2008

In 3 months we changed into a Thanksgiving society

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The economic crisis has dramatically changed behaviors: We see it in the airports, on the roads, in the malls, in restaurant. From a society that values consumption over everything, we have suddenly stopped mindless consumption and have come to our senses. It might be temporary but the US society has re-discovered the values that make Thanksgiving to such an amazing holiday: We expect nothing just a good meal, a good bottle of wine, good conversation and a closeness to our loved ones that we crave so much. There are no price tags attached to anything, no expectations, no material disappointments.

For me, Social Media is like an ongoing Thanksgiving: People giving to each other, without expecting to get something in return. This is bigger than just a recession. This is discovering what being human is all about: Small, little gestures, a little hug, a nod. Virtually or in the physical world. And that’s why I consider this a very happy thanksgiving.

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Post Media Planning and Buying

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We’re seeing revolutionary changes in the media buying and planning business: Media agencies (who were formed to get low bulk rates for their clients) are trying to to add creative services to their offerings, finally  comprehending that media and creative should never operate in silos and a vacuum. Big media companies such as Meredith and Time Inc. are starting to circumvent media agencies and deal directly with brands, offering integrated opportunities minus the commission. Last but not least, brands are starting to eye social media and try to find new ways to connect with people in innovative ways. And that’s where the real issue begins.

Let’s just look at Obama’s media spend, documented by ClickZ:

– $7.97 million was spent on Web ads in ’08 through October – $730k on local media through Centro and Cox, $45k for In-Game advertising, $600k for ad networks, $21k for NBA.com, Time Warner received $337k, Politico $146k and WashingtonPost.com $100k.

– $539k were spent on social networks – Facebook grabbing the lionshare followed by BlackPlanet.com and MySpace.

Now let’s look at the numbers (They don’t add up, there must be a lot of SEM and other buys that are not documented yet.) Almost $2 million were spent on tradional digital marketing. Take 10% commission and the Obama campaign paid $200 to execute the campaign. Since the creative had to be changed constantly, this seems to be a fair pay for the execution of the campaign. But the real issue is the spend on Social Networks: $539k, a commission of 10% would garner $54k for the whole campaign. And what was expected to be done by the agency in return:

– Communicate with 3,041.593 supporters (and growing)

– Supporting 12 different pages

– Uploading 41 videos

– Writing 1,670 notes

– Creating 15 albums

– Surveying/Responding to more than 526,000 wall posts

All this doesn’t include strategy sessions/design sessions etc.

Now, Obama had thousands of volunteers supporting his marketing campaign. Volunteers that could respond to posts, volunteers that shouldered the majority of the ‘dirty’ work that has to be done daily for the brand. (In his case most likely hourly.)

Obama was a movement, an exception. Brands will look at their agencies to develop strategies/tactics and execute them flawlessly. Insightful brands will add their own voice into the mix but the agencies are expected to shoulder the majority of the work. Unless they find a way to push minimum wage down to $1, agencies are facing severe issues dealing with these new expectations.

Jeff Jarvis coined the phrase Post Media a while ago and it seems to find traction in Social Media Circles. How will the Post Media Agency be reimbursed for their thinking and execution? The commission model makes no sense in the post media world. We will see a much stronger correlation between business goals/objectives and agency fees. And business goals won’t be determined by sales or leads alone, they will be defined as connections and relationships. We’ve seen first steps into that direction but we’ve just begun.

Don’t get me wrong: There will always be a space for monolithic media agencies, basing their business and high volume and low overhead. At one point, Google might take over this part of the business. But the real business and the next opportunity in the Post Media World is outside of buying spaces and time. It’s becoming part of the heart and soul of people.

Build Relationships and connect.

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Image by kris247

Under the title “Say Goodbye To Experimental Spending In 2009”, Mediapost’s Mark Walsh writes about a panel at ad:tech new York on media planning and buying the digital era. He quotes Donna Speciale, Mediavest USA: “09 is not the year for testing. Brands want to stick with areas that are tried and true.”

The question is: What areas are tried and true? The diminishing value of advertising on TV? The increasing banner blindness of people? The continuous decline of newspaper advertising value? Or is it just Google? Donna Speciale might be talking about tried and true areas for her agency: Good commissions for big campaigns. Efficient delivery of mass messages. That might be in the best interest of her agency. But it’s not in the best interest of brands.

Just ask Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson or Henkel AG: The WSJ reports that all those CPG giants are seeing a consumer trend abandoning brand loyalty due to the economic crisis. Store brands are on the rise, 25% of consumers say they don’t really see a difference between national brands and store brand of paper products, sales of Gain rose by 10% while the pricier Tide has weaker results, 25% of upper-income consumers gave up favorite brands over six months in 2008 and private-label versions of soap and other bath products are up 23% in the last 12 months.

I guess those tried and true areas don’t work that well.

And, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. How can you communicate with people when you treated them like sheep and target audiences for the longest time? How can you hope to get your message across in the age of media snacking? Do you really believe anybody cares about your brand when they have bills to pay, mouths to feed and the constant barrage of bad news to digest? And how much less do they care about your advertising?

People are cutting back. People are trying to save each and every penny. You should cut back, too. Cut back on the mass approach. Cut back on the reach and frequency philosophy. Cut back on the tactics that lead people to negate your brand and go to private labels.

Instead, build relationships. Learn as much as you can about your customers. There are a gazillion tools out there that allow you to connect with people. It’s easy to break a brand bond when there’s no relationship between people and the brand. 

Rethink your CRM systems. Are they only beneficial to you? What benefits do people get out of them? How can you transform your current CRM system to facilitate a real, authentic relationship with people? 

Rethink your company structure. If you consider Conversational Marketing/Social Media as a tactic, an execution, a short-term band-aid: Please stick to the tried and true areas. But, if you see Social Media as a game-changer, as an opportunity to strategically revamp your business and open new markets – this might be the biggest opportunity to change your category and become/remain the biggest player on the block. 

To adjust Obama’s quote: (Building relationships) “alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.”

How to connect with people during a recession

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Image by eecue.com

We’ve lived through a period where people constantly advanced: There was a unique sense of momentum, technology made amazing advances, new opportunities to communicate, be employed and make money seemed to pop up every day. There was no time looking back, just a constant rush to look ahead. We didn’t live in houses, we flipped them. We bought the BlackJack yesterday, just to replace it with the iPhone tomorrow. And the GPhone the day after. While we were living in the present, most of our attention was focused on the future.

Just like 9/11, the September 15 failure of Lehman Brothers came as a shock and each passing day made the world feel colder and the outlook on the world less optimistic: TED Spread, Libor, Layoffs, Bankruptcies, red numbers on CNBC and Bloomberg. People had to change from the advancing modality of the last 7 years to a retreat modality. People are not advancing anymore. Instead, they are focused on the here and now. Since most consumers are in a state of shock, they closed their wallets and started to treasure their current belongings. Their current job. Their current relationships. Their current home. In light of the onslaught of foreclosure news, your home has become the emotional center of your life. Home is where your family lives, home is where you have good times with friends, home is where you feel safe from red numbers and bad news.

For the foreseeable future, most people will be in the retreat mode. They will savor things, cherish relationships and use their home as the base camp for strategic advances into the outside world.

Pillsbury has understood this trend:

But they didn’t understand the real essence of retreat: Your home is not a magical place, it’s not the advertising world of Christmas where everybody smiles, the grandfather nods in agreement while smoking a pipe and the mother is knitting away. Home is a real place. It’s the place where you can be real. Where you can yawn out loud, where embarrassing things happen, where you can be yourself. That’s the essence of Ikea’s Home campaign:



The humanization of the retreat mode is where the real game is. Combine this with a social media/conversational marketing strategy that allows people to feel at home with their friends/family through easy connections and solid brand platforms, and you have a real winner at hand.
The retreat mode is a scary thought for economists because the US economy is based on growth and consumption. But it shouldn’t be scary for marketers because we always have to connect with people in their current state of mind. Authentic. Human. Real.