Seeing The Forrester For The Trees

21 07 2009

I’ve been working in digital since the earliest days, and I am a true believer.

Cut me and I bleed bytes.

But, still… are we not seeing the Forrester for the trees?

How does Forrester’s projection that in 5 years digital will account for 20% of the total advertising spend count as a massive change in advertising?

The curve is sexy. Noteworthy. But… it’s still only 20%.

In fact, a reasonable interpretation of the below chart is:

“despite all the hype, what this chart really says is that 80% of the ad spend in 2014 will be in the traditional media that we have been far too quick to declare dead”.


But obviously, things are not 80% the same as ever. Not by a long shot. So what’s happening here?

I don’t buy the argument that TV is dead, or that nothing at all is changing. What both arguments miss is a broader perspective. When I step back from the question of digital vs. analog and old vs. new, I see two tremendous shifts.

The first is an explosion of content and a fragmentation of audiences that has blown a massive hole in the business models of all content businesses. This makes it tougher to reach a mass audience.

The second is a shift from long-term brand-building activities to short-term direct marketing activities.

The Two Biggest Changes And Challenges In Advertising?

Digital is a major part of what is driving the changes in advertising, but it remains only a part. In my opinion, there are two major changes and challenges that marketers must grapple with. They are:

  1. Re-aggregating fragmented audiences into a meaningful size; and
  2. Re-learning how to build brands for the long-term

Advertising IS changing forever.

But when we focus too tightly on digital vs. analog share of ad spend, I believe we are missing the big picture.

The Blueberry Waffle Mix Lesson

15 04 2009

Here are some links to things that are worth reading.

Subjects? Facebook, ROI, CPG, social media, drugs, and the death of print.

But for me the real gem is the story of a guy who almost drowned in a vat of blueberry waffle mix.


Thankfully, he’s OK. But I see this story as a sort of absurd cosmic lesson: a reminder to always maintain our humility and sense of humor. No matter how smart we think we are, we’re always just one slippery step away from some darkly hilarious disaster.

Happy reading. And watch your step while you’re walking over the waffle mix 🙂

Photo credit: MHaitaca

Did You Know 3.0 (aka “Shift Happens”)

3 04 2009

UPDATED AUGUST 28: Now you can also download “Shift Happens” as a movie.


This is a very revealing video and worth your time. It speaks volumes about globalization, and the changes that are happening faster than we know.

It’s thought-provoking. Revealing. Surprising.

What’s perhaps most surprising is where it came from. It started as a PowerPoint presentation for a faculty meeting in August 2006 at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. In the words of the original author Karl Fisch:

“it “went viral” on the Web in February 2007 and, as of June 2007, had been seen by at least 5 million online viewers. Today the old and new versions of the online presentation have been seen by at least 20 million people, not including the countless others who have seen it at conferences, workshops, training institutes, and other venues.

It’s further evidence that ideas are not only found in big cities or famous universities.

And they’re not only generated for famous conferences.

Big ideas can come from everywhere, and from out of nowhere.

Where will the next idea like this come from? Gudda, India? Ororuwo, Nigeria?

Maybe “Did You Know 4.0” will come from you. After all, shift happens 🙂

Dolce&Gabanna, Meet Procter&Gamble: The Interview

18 09 2008

How P&G went to market in the 1950s:

Television, television, television.

A sprightly jingle, complete with a string section straight out of the Donna Reed show.

And a Disney-esque voiceover intoning, “Clean and bright as the sun on the sand”.

And, this is how P&G launches a new product today.

Where’s the TV campaign? Where’s the jingle? Why are bloggers involved? And what, in the name of all that’s traditional and stodgy in Cincinnati, do the Kardashian sisters have to do with all this?

Well, maybe a runway launch isn’t a bad idea for a product that’s tall, skinny, and curvy in all the right places.

Alissa Hammond of Procter & Gamble agreed to be interviewed for iCPG about the launch. Here’s what we talked about.

Tom: Who’s the ideal target for this product?

Alissa: Our target is the consumer who is concerned not only with performance, but also design. They want a power toothbrush that fits the aesthetics of their bathroom and is slim and sleek, but still offers the functional cleaning and whitening benefits of an Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush.

Tom: It’s interesting that P&G chose to launch with no TV support at all. What was the rationale? How did management react? How did retailers react?

Alissa: The rationale is based on the insights we have about our consumer. Because the product is unique and appeals to a new consumer group, we wanted to reach them when they are most receptive to hearing about our product and connect our brand to things they are already engaged in, such as design, fashion and beauty. We know our consumer target is engaged and passionate about bloggers, magazine editors, interior designers, and fashion and design events.

We saw a great opportunity to reach bloggers, media and some of our consumers directly at New York Fashion Week in early September. We partnered with Style360 to launch the Pulsonic on the runway. The toothbrush accessorized upscale loungewear clothing from Dash and Smooch, which are boutiques owned by the Kardashian sisters. Also on site at the Style360 events was the Pulsonic-inspired “Ultimate Fashionista’s Bathroom,” designed by Pulsonic-spokesperson Michael Moloney, interior designer for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Michael was onsite during the multi-day event to describe his inspiration for the bathroom design, as well as talk about the great benefits of the Pulsonic and why he recommends having it in your bathroom.

Tom: I’ve seen web banners for Pulsonic on MP3 download pages, and prominent paid search ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Are any banners behaviorally targeted?

Alissa: Knowing that the consumer is interested in design, fashion and beauty, we are able to provide our key messaging on the sites where the consumer spends much of their time online. We also utilize paid search via the major portals and integrate our message and banner advertising in contextually relevant sites.

Tom: Are you doing other digital advertising besides banners and paid search?

Alissa: Yes. We have been promoting the Pulsonic in various P&G newsletters that go out to consumers. We also utilized promotions and advertising through key eRetailers such as Amazon and Drugstore, and the Pulsonic was available for preorder on these sites prior to national launch.

Tom: What role will bloggers play in this launch? How did you reach out to the bloggers? Which company(s) did you use, and why?

Alissa: The unique characteristics of the consumer, specifically where they go to get new product information and suggestions, changes where we normally place our marketing focus. Our insight into the Pulsonic consumer target tells us that bloggers play an extremely important role in influencing her. We are extensively contacting and sampling the Pulsonic to bloggers and even gave one blogger backstage access to the Style360 events during Fashion Week so she could have an exclusive look at how the Pulsonic tied into the events. Our Public Relations agency reached out to bloggers and established relationships with them to spread the word about the Pulsonic.

Tom: Besides this, what role — if any — do you see for social media as you move forward

Alissa: Social media will continue to be an important part of our strategy when our consumer insights show he or she is influenced by social media.

Tom: How will you measure the success of your digital efforts?

Alissa: We measure ROI (return on investment) through our Marketing Mix Modeling and also have quantitative measures that we use along the way to measure our success.

Thanks, Alissa, for the interview.

For more observations on the Pulsonic launch, click here.

Indie-Film Marketing For CPG? Crest Weekly Clean’s Unconventional Launch.

21 08 2008

Here’s an intriguing little tale of bloggers and bicuspids. molars and marketing, word-of-mouth and Wal-Mart.

Can you launch a new, unconventional product — one that requires consumers to adopt entirely new behavior, no less — with 5 second TV tags and a whole lot of blogging?

P&G sure seems to think so.

According to an article in today’s Ad Age, they’re launching Crest Weekly Clean (a “weekly addition to daily tooth brushing, giving a ‘just-from-the-dentist’, smooth, clean feeling”) mostly via sampling to bloggers and P&G’s Vocalpoint buzz-marketing program.

Is This Indie-Film Marketing Applied to Consumer Packaged Goods?

Launching a new product at mass retail is not for the faint of heart, or light of wallet.

Consolidation at retail has given retailers unprecedented power. Today, one in four dollars spent at retail in the U.S. is spent at Wal-Mart.

What this means that a product launch today is like marketing a Hollywood film: if you don’t have a ginormous opening weekend (first few months of sales), you’re in trouble.

This makes me wonder whether P&G isn’t deliberately stealing a page from the indie-film marketing playbook.

First, work hard to generate some buzz and groundswell.

Then, air commercials as if you’re shocked by the early “spontaneous” buzz: “Gosh really, our little brand? How nice of everyone to notice. We really weren’t expecting this, are we blushing?”

I’m as big a proponent of interactive as you’ll find in any CPG company. But still, mass retail demands fast product turns and has little patience for waiting around for a new product to find its customers. If I’m honest, I’d have to say I’m not sure I’d have the guts to launch a product like Crest Weekly Clean using online only.

Can A Major Marketer Wait For The Groundswell?

If there’s not a 1-2 punch planned (buzz marketing first and TV second), I’ll be very surprised.

More than that, I’ll be watching it very carefully. If P&G can pull off a product launch with only a smattering of TV, that changes the game quite a bit, doesn’t it?

Four Ways To Be Astonishing

21 08 2008

Jim Dietzel posted this Victor Wooten performance of “Norwegian Wood” in the FriendFeed Jazz Lovers room today. It was so great I had to share it.

Why is this performance so astonishing?

  1. Surprise – He takes things we thought we knew (a classic Beatles tune, and the electric bass) and reminds us that there are always new creative possibilities.

    What could you do — right now — to reinvent something you’ve been thinking about the same old way?

  2. Solo – Victor plays this entirely on his own. It’s a risk. Will people understand the song right away? How far out can he stretch the melody until he loses us?

    How many of us are hiding behind the rest of our group, because we’re afraid to step out and take a chance on our own?

  3. Soul – Virtuoso technique is obviously a big part of what’s happening here. But it wouldn’t be compelling if we couldn’t feel the emotion underpinning it.

    If your work doesn’t reflect who you really are as a person, it may be technically perfect but it will always feel impersonal and unsatisfying to the people around you.

  4. Smile – I love Victor Wooten’s smile at the end of his solo. He enjoys his work and it shows.

    The Dalai Lama (who isn’t half the bass player Victor Wooten is) says, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”.

    We should all play more. If we did, we’d smile more.

View Vs. Do And The New YouTube Ad Format

13 08 2008

It’s no secret that banner ads have distressingly low click-through rates.

The question is, why?

Allow me to share a pet theory of mine that I call “View Vs. Do”.

TV is a “view” medium: “I’ve got some time to kill, let’s see what’s on”.

The Internet is a “do” medium: “I’ll check the scores on ESPN, return some emails, and post to my blog.”

At my company, we’ve often seen higher click-throughs and actions taken from random banner ads on CNN than from banner ads on places where we instintively know our consumers want to do something. I believe it’s because when people are task-focused, even an interesting ad gets ignored because “it’s not what I’m doing right now”.

If that’s true, the ideal web audience may be one that’s sitting on its keester not really doing anything but clicking around looking for interesting stuff. And that may be the YouTube audience.

That’s why I’m excited about the new YouTube ad format. If it works the way I think it will, I’d expect to see greater engagement and higher click-throughs from video ads here than almost anywhere else. This may be one of the web’s first significant “view” destinations, with TV-like receptivity to good ads.

Let’s hope so. We need sight, sound and motion to sell.