Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Product Placement back on UK TV

Regulation U-Turn

Simon Cowell PhotoAs terrestrial commercial TV revenue streams continue to struggle in these difficult financial times, the government have agreed in principal to lift the ban on product placement on TV.  However this isn’t an even playing field as the ban is still likely to effect productions made for the BBC.

In theory the lifting of the ban could produce a decent level of secondary advertising income for programmes such as Coronation SCheryl Cole Photo from X Factortreet or Hollyoaks, however I would question the actual volume revenue unless we get into placements on the scale of those seen in 80s American blockbusters such as Superman.  I can picture X-Factor now, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole drinking from very well branded Coca Cola glasses.  The introduction really needs to have some clear parameters.  The move is rumoured to be worth c. £100m to the commercial broadcasters, something that would be welcomed in these troubled times.  Contrary to some of the critics, I don’t see such a big issue as long as programme writers and producers can keep their editorial integrity in place.

The benefit of this U-turn does provide an improvement to the ambience of the sets in drama series.  Rather than some bizarre made-up lager in the Woolpack we will actually see genuine brands, making it more realistic.  Why should Eastenders be any different though?

If advertisers can get their products in the right placements and done in a non-intrusive way it could really support their brand.  Association with popular programmes or characters could help support their brand credentials.  However association with programmes such as reality shows could provide as many issues as benefits.  I would imagine that Big Brother would have made a significant amount of money from product placement.  Imagine the likesPhoto of Big Brother 10 Winner Sophie of Craig from the original series drinking a can of Carlsberg.  Or this years Big Brother winner Sophie tucking into Cadburys Dairy Milk.

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Missing Blog Posts

So as some regular readers of my blog will have noticed I haven’t posted any articles recently.  Firstly I would like to apologise, this isn’t because I have lost interest but due to the fact that I have recently changed roles and endure a daily 2 hour commute each way.

So what am I doing now?

Having made my career progress at DSGi taking over all Online Marketing, Design and Content for Currys, Dixons and PC World,  I dBest Buy Logoecided it was time to seek a new challenge.  Thankfully plenty of offers were on the table and I was lucky enough to choose from some fantastic opportunities.   I decided to opt for remaining in Consumer Electronics retailing but try my hand at delivering my experience within a start-up.  The opportunity at Best Buy (as reported in NMA) allowed me to set up a department and functions from scratch.

Carphone Warehouse Store Front

Whilst Best Buy aren’t your traditional start-up (part of the World’s largest Consumer Electronics Retailer) it does mean you get involved in absolutely everything.  Formulating strategy, developing plans and ensuring buy-out throughout the entire organisation.   Add in the Carphone Warehouse (who I am supprting on a consultancy basis)  element and you get an organisation of amazing scale and opportunity.

 

 

Back to tradition

In addition to truly formulating the online marketing approach I am also, driving the overall brand and comms strategy, everything from brand architecture and positioning through to developing a fully integrated comms strategy.  All this in conjunction with the Head of Marcomms, allowing us to really plan from a joined up foundation from day one.  A really refreshing approach and one that has to be the way forward.  The main obstacle blocking generally preventing this from happenning is the fact that many online marketers don’t have experience in branding or ATL comms.  Luckily my experience at both Reuters and Nationwide is helping me lead and define the approach

More to come

Whilst I can’t promise to be as active as I once was on this blog, I will start to try and produce more articles again.  Thanks to everybody for reading and thanks for the positive and constructive feedback both through the comments on the blog and via e-mail.  Also look out for updates on Best Buy as we get closer to our 2010 UK launch.


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Murdoch to Charge – Does Attention Economy now have its own recession?

Rupert Murdoch announces plan to charge for news content

Rupert Murdoch News Corp

So the announcement last week that Rupert Murdoch intends to start charging for newspaper content via his News Corporations newspaper websites came as a surprise to some.  Especially as Murdoch is widely credited with being the individual that introduced the Free-to-read premise of online newspapers.

Obviously the recession and falling newspaper circulation is behind this latest decision (NewsCorps profits slumped by 47%, advertising revenue in Britain slumped by 21%).  The strategy is being fuelled by the success of online subscriptions at the Wall Street Journal.

This is a completely personal opinion, but online subscriptions for a B2B publication, or one where you make expensive decisions,  is a completely different kettle of fish to consumer mass media publications.

Murdoch is determined to set the wheels in motions on these plans within twelve months.  So no doubt you regular readers of The Sun and The Times will be getting your cards out to get your subscriptions.  I didn’t think so!

Attention Economy

This story made me think about a previous post I made on this blog relating to Attention Planning.  Attention Planning in part works with the premise of the Attention Economy.   The Attention Economy is based on the fact that humans only have the capability to pay attention to a finite amount of information or a finite amount of messages.  With the rise of social media, the dynamics of the attention economy have changed, more and more information is available at an unprecedented pace and there are in increasing number of ‘editors’ that broadcast.  As a consequence our attention is become a scarce commodity, a valuable trading commodity.

Many site owners are charged with making sticky or engaging content.  Content that will make people want to return to their site time and time again.  Whilst this is a great move and is a great way of trying to attract people it is also contributing to the overload of information and making peoples’ attention an even more valuable commodity.

Why is it so important?

Well if you look at traditional economic measures for simplicity sake, the amount of money people have, founders of sites such as Yahoo, Facebook and Google became millionaire when there was no revenue being driven via their platforms.  Why?  Largely because investors know that is a site attracts thousandsMark Zuckerberg or millions of visitors there are definite money making opportunities through advertising or maybe even subscriptions.

People will trade e-Commerce properties before they have made a penny, in a number of cases while they are making big losses.  Everybody wants a piece of Twitter but how much money does it actually make?

Very few genres such as Twitter and Facebook experience such accelerated over-night success.  However, if you can targetted to your key area, tailor content to your particular audience, segment or niche you will have a great chance of gaining their attention.  Otherwise, at best they will skim your content, not take it in and are unlikely to return.

Back to Murdoch

So has Murdoch got it right if you consider the Attention Economy?  I would argue he is taking a short-term view on an issue to solve a long-term problem.  With the likes of the BBC distributing high quality broadcast information and the volume of information transmitted by individuals on Twitter and Facebook et al, I doubt it is a model that can be sustained.  That is unless NewsCorp can get content that is so unique people will pay the subscription.  Something that was overlooked in most of the debates, will Murdoch start charging for people to use MySpace?  I would imagine that would kill the community and drive the teens and 20-somethings to an alternative.

I would personally suggest NewsCorp need to look at their content.  Make it compelling and then gain revenues off the back of the increased visitors numbers.  But as Murdoch himself said “I am no economist”.


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Attention Planning – Social Media

Attention Planning

There is always a mass of hyperbole surrounding social media and branding.  This can be due to lack of understanding, the fact that few hard measures are put in place or just the fact it is in the interests of some marketeers to keep the mystique around these subjects.  Whilst both areas may not be as simple to analyse as an immediate ROI from a PPC campaign, or coupon redemption through DM, there are ways to measure their impact and effectiveness.

This post looks very simply at some of the methods of measuring social media campaigns and in a way, branding campaigns online in general.

Social Media sites

Desirability

This is the section that traditional ATL or brand advertisers would call consideration.  Essentially it is the measure to ascertain if people actually like your brand or not.  Traditional advertisers will run surveys, perform focus groups or take a spurious number from a third party research house.  However, these are sometimes the route of the reason why we never truly know the impact of our activity.  How many times have you been asked to take part in ‘research’ and declined the opportunity.

There is a (relatively) quantifiable way of doing this online.  Tapping into the social media cloud around your brand, you can see how people view your brand, both positively and negatively.  This can be done through buzz metrics (reputation management) which effectively analyses all the commentary your brand receives through social media channels.

Awareness

The central point for any brand has to be has your target audience seen the brand and are they aware of it?  These are important (although not necessarily critical) questions to answer prior to your campaign, as it is easier to raise awareness if there is existing rapport.  As users become increasingly sophisticated and engaged with your brand, campaign materials will be spoken about, distributed by users and eventually searched on.  Again as a brand you need to extract these conversations, it not only allows you to evaluate awareness, it also allows you to understand impact and perception.

A great example of a campaign that has generated large levels of awareness is ComparetheMeerkat.  The TV ad aired and created a stir.  A microsite was available that was then promoted via the majority of online channels, social and other.

Compare the meerkat

Frequency

The old rule of traditional advertising was developed in the 1970s by Krugman.  He stated that you need to expose your target to your message three times. What? Why? and the payoff.  Essentially this still rings true.  Potentially even more relevant in social media.

Be aware when developing campaigns or activity for your brand you need to have a sufficient campaign base and content to maintain users engagement and buy-in.  Users aren’t willing to see and review the same content on a regular basis, they are even less likely to be interested in distributing this to their friends.

Engagement

This is quite simply how deeply entrenched your brand is within the consumers’ minds.  How often are you referenced in blogs, on forums or other social media platforms.  This is how many times are you commented on, how long were the conversation strings and were the messages postive or negative.  The ultimate and potentially more difficult to measure is did the activity spark other activities.  A great example of this in action can be found on YouTube, where users in the YouTube community post video responses.

Pay-off

With more media becoming available at an accelerated pace both online, in print and on broadcast media with the advent of digital TV and Radio, users attention is becoming more and more difficult to obtain.  Key measures to see if you have grabbed the attention are simple methods such as click-throughs, UVs and repeat visits.  This indicates your content is engaging enough to offer users some form of pay-off.

Another measure (depending on your content) is time spent interacting.  Generally in brand building (social) campaigns the longer users spend on site, the better.

Spread

Traction is key here.  As an advertiser you can only target certain media channels, it would be impossible to target all possible channels.  Therefore organic spread is a great measure of success.  Your campaign needs to spread from mailbox to mailbox if it is to progress.  Perhaps more importantly does the campaign spread from social network to social network?  Another great track is to see if your campaign gets bookmarked on social bookmarking sites such as Digg or Stumble.

Reach

Remember you need to track your campaign.  Remember review how many people have seen your campaign and are they in your target audience?  Reach is important and the more people that see your campaign the better.  However it would be better to sacrifice some numbers in order to maximise your reach within your target audience.

Summary

Whilst none of the points raised in this post are as complex as rocket science, they may seem obvious, many organisations forget these principals when placing their brands in social media.

They often believe just because they are established brands or are well known, they deserve their place in people’s everyday social networks.  If that was the case the job of the Internet Marketeer would be a very simple one.  However, social media has made the landscape more complex.  You must have a reason for being in social media and above all track what you are doing.

To enable this, you need to set out some clear objectives that can be measured.  In my opinion I would also suggest employing a reputation management specialise.  Somebody along the lines of Market Sentinel that could also analyse the benefits of all your activity on SEO and overall marketing efforts.


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Is Online Display Advertising Dead?

Does Online Display Advertising Work?
Online display advertising regularly commands a high degree of concentration from online advertising professionals. It attracts a high proportion of many online advertising professionals time and in certain sectors, commands a high proportion of online advertising budgets.
As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, online is sometimes a victim of its own success. Because you can track almost anything, almost everything has to be completely accountable with no room for doubt or vagueness. Whilst this is powerful to help prove effectiveness, it is perhaps not the most effective way to manage integrated campaigns. After all, how long have advertisers spent millions on press and/or outdoor campaigns without being able to track effectiveness with any conviction.   For clarity, I am not saying these traditional channels don’t work, these can be effective but they need to be measured.
With the recession hanging over nearly the entire global economy, advertisers are evaluating all spend. If you are concentrating on purely ROI and not reach or frequency of message, online display often loses out.  There is often the argument that display is used to drive awareness or brand consideration, however how many advertisers actually measure this?  The other argument is that a different type of audience clicks on display ads, compared to other channels such as search or price comparisons. The latter is true, however as a recent study by Starcom, Tacoda and comScore illustrates that isn’t always a good thing.
The trio identified a group of individuals that they labelled “Natural Born Clickers”. Whilst this was a study in the US, it is more than likely similar here in the UK.
The study illustrates that these “Natural Born Clickers” represent c.6% of the online population. Disproportionally they account for 50% of all display ad clicks. This statistic alone illustrates that there is a small (yet not insignificant) proportion of the audience that skew display campaign results, this generally negates CTR and CPC as metrics. These audiences skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44 and households with a low to medium combined income. Heavy clickers behave very differently online than the typical Internet user, and while they spend four times more time online than non-clickers, their spending does not proportionately reflect this very heavy Internet usage. Whilst this audience also spends significantly more time online than the average user they are also more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career sites.
The study obviously highlights that CTR (Click Through Rate) and CPC are not valid measurements for display advertising.  Whilst CPM is much maligned, because the impression does not necessarily mean the ad was seen, it is potentially more valid than CPC as a buying metric. In terms of brand building through display, if you are to buy on a CPM or CPC, I would suggest that you need to measure the impact on brand, awareness, consideration or actual shortlisting of your brand (dependent on your objectives).  If your primary focus is on sales at an efficient ROI, in most cases you should aim for CPA. This isn’t black and white as on a number of  occasions CPM can be more efficient than any other metric.  However, you should test different metrics on different channels.  To minimise risk, CPA is the best option.
Above all, remember anything is possible.  Don’t just think of display as banners or skyscrapers (although don’t ignore them).  Contextual, interactive ads are possible.  Sites like Facebook allow users to select or deselect the ads they show.  A site like MyDeco make the advertiser central to its contents and champions the advertiser.  You also have to be aware of some of the more interactive (intrusive) formats.  These often have high CTR, at times these are driven up by accidental clickers, sometimes trying to click off or close.  Cookies are often stored and your results are skewed to these formats if a sale is made on that PC.  I have always steered away from Pop-unders, subsites etc for this very reason.

MyDeco Example
The best lesson you can learn from this is, think differently.  Challenge your agency or the media partners you work with.  Above all, ensure you effectively de-dupe across all channels.  CPA can be fraught with issues on both post-impression and post-click sales, if you don’t de-dupe.  You won’t be able to evaluate if incremental sales were achieved as a consequence of your campaign.
Remember, I am not saying online display is dead.  To the contrary, just be careful with your metrics.  Ensure your tracking is robust and be think imaginatively with your placements and how you utilise the online opportunities.  Don’t just be another ME TOO.


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What are your Top TV ads?

See the full blog post – My Top 5 TV Ads


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Recession Resistant?

Can online marketing escape the recession?

With any economic downturn/credit crunch/recession comes the usual questions at the board rooms of most organisations. 

How effective is our marketing? 

Could we do without our advertising?

Is our strategy a luxury?

It had been thought that in this current recession, online would escape the questions or criticisms.  However as a lot of organisations are facing tougher times, including several high profile victims, online is being asked to be even more accountable than ever.  Is that such a bad thing?

Well that depends.  If you have all the data to hand and have tried every potential opportunity for your brand, then it can only be a good thing.  You should be able to pin-point the exact levers to pull in order to produce the desired results.  Unfortunately, very few organisations have or are in that situation. 

So what is next? 

Well it makes sense if your organisation is able to invest in acquisitional activities it should do so.  And if possible increase that investment.  Channels that offer high levels of transparency, low costs or better still low risk (CPA or Hybrid deals).  Even with these options you still need to understand the customer journey and have an effective method of de-duping (I am amazed at how many organisations still don’t have that cracked).  Are these methods recession proof? I’m not entirely convinced.  Marketeers experienced in working with Google will have noticed bids and ROI change over the past 9-12 months.  Also, Google are experimenting with a number of tools or models to help maintain their revenue.  Including dropping their previous stance of no Gambling advertising.  It all depends on your sector, Finance in the main is seeing a dramatic fall-off – largely driven by sub-prime advertisers pulling back on their investment.  One thing is for sure, Google will probably be making more sales visits than they have in recent years.

What about display?

Display obviously pays a role in most campaign mixes or strategies.  However the traditional CPM model is a risky one, unless your brand can afford the luxury of brand advertising or if you aren’t responsible for a transactional website.  One point that is neglected or overlooked is the multiplier effect.  Most advertisers still look at last click wins.  This is why in a number of sectors display loses out.  Recent investigations by ComScore in the US indicates a genuine effect on search from display.  However is that enough?  The main benefit of display in my opinion is that it can not only drive awareness, it can also put more people in your sales funnel.  This is something search isn’t particularly good at.  Most people in search mode already have an intent, whether latent or active.  Would I start to invest millions of my budget in traditional display advertising?  In short – No.  However, with the market in its current state, new technologies are constantly evolving.  With the growing maturity of behavioural and re-targetting technology, an increasing number of media owners are willing to undertake activity on a CPA activity. 

 

Remember, although CPA presents far fewer risks, it sometimes can be more expensive than CPM or CPC and volumes are likely to be lower.