I’ve been to a few SXSWi and every time I’ve come away with the same WTH reaction. When I first started to attend, the conference was focused on gaming and blogging. These two topics held no “draw” for me as an agency executive looking to learn about new trends and how media consumption is changing or how to reach a new audience. Then the event shifted into a mobile space and a place to launch new ideas (Twitter, Gowalla, Foursquare). I thought that was interesting, but still not worth me paying to attend because the niche is nice, but it doesn’t have the reach we need.
So, here we are. It’s 2011 and I’m still not going to SXSWi. Every tech media outlet and every national media outlet is trumping up the exciting event. But, when I look at today’s schedule there is still very little on the list that appeals to me. Programs like Being Young and Rocking It, How Not To Be A Douchebag at SXSW, and Improv Classes: Not just for Actors and Comedians focus on things that 20 somethings might have the time to leisurely attend, but as a person focused on being good stewards of my client’s advertising dollars…not so much.
I struggle with being the old fogey, or worse yet…the dreaded douchebag because I’m a naysayer about the event. However, I get more out of attending one iMedia conference or online webinar from the iab than I ever have from SXSWi.
Besides that, the smell of patchouli and the ironic chunky glasses just drive me over the edge. The parties may be “totally awesome” and everybody loves an excuse to come to Austin, Texas in the spring, but if I’m going to spend $1,000 to get a badge (which, by the way, does not even guarantee you access to the events on the schedule!) there’s a lot more relevant interactive events to attend.Â Maybe they aren’t as rock star hip, but they certainly are educational and worth your time and money.
I was asked to moderate an event this week. The event was for traditional media folks and the topic was how to integrate social media into traditional media ad budgets. The speakers were two guys from a startup social media monitoring service and I was ready to keep this conversation flowing and help remove the fear from traditional media people that digital is out to kill traditional instead of enhance and collaborate.
Imagine the look on my face when the first thing out of the social media guy’s mouth was, “Traditional is dead, we advise our clients to fire their agency and not spend any money on traditional.” I think I blacked out for a moment as an audible gasp arose from the audience.Â Right away, the speakers had lost their audience. For the rest of the luncheon no one was focused on learning anything from these speakers…now it was a war.
While the audience was polite, I continued to watch an enormous hole be dug by the speaker every time he opened his mouth. His answers to questions peppered with profanity in a room full of women, I kept moving further and further away from him.
So, not only did he lose his audience with his constant bashing of traditional media to a traditional media audience, but he also offended some with his adult language in a professional setting.
After the trainwreck, I thought back to my long history of public speaking and remembered what an old timer once told me, “Play to the audience.” When I first started public speaking, I was training insurance brokers on how to sell HMO products. Talk about a tough audience!Â But, I found ways to relate and to make my HMO product exciting and something their customers really needed to have.
I thought I would share a few tips I have learned over the years that can help you when giving a presentation to not alienate your audience.
If you are looking for a speaker at your next event, I’ve just finished a wonderful presentation based on the Pew Internet Research about media consumption habits and the comScore Digital Analysis of 2010 that is a 50 minute wonderland of information and will shake the rafters with pearls to share with your clients. Ask me to come speak and watch how much fun we both have!
Ad Networks continue to be the top budget line item for advertisers in 2011. It is not a shock, but it is worth noting because of all the bad things said about them. I am chief among the critics of ad networks…bad ad networks. There are hundreds of them and when a media planner doesn’t do their due diligence, the network does not perform for their client and, in turn, their client forms a wrong opinion about the efficacy of online advertising altogether.
ValueClick released their annual advertiser survey to good news for ad networks and for online advertising in general.
The top media formats advertisers plan to spend more than 25% of their digital budgets include ad networks (43%), SEM/SEO (37%), and direct publisher placements (36%). When asked how budgets for ad networks will change in 2011 compared to last year, 25% of advertisers said they plan to increase their budgets while 47% will stay the same.
The study includes the obligatory obvious statistic that 85% of advertisers say ROI is their most important metric in selecting their media budget allocations.
Another interesting note is that a third of the advertisers surveyed said they do not plan to use DSPs in 2011. I note it because in the industry there is a lot of buzz for the past year and a half about how DSPs will revolutionize media buying and be the death knell for ad networks. Clearly, there is a lot of room to grow for the DSP market. Good news for all of the ad networks rushing to create their own DSPs.
We use ad networks and have even created our own “ad network” of local publishers to obtain premium local inventory instead of the typical remnant local inventory available on local sites through large networks. We believe they work and are highly targeted and priced right. Ad networks have been called the strip mall of online advertising, but they are also the savior in filling unsold inventory to a lot of publishers desperately trying to make sales goals when the traditional side of the business is seeing falling revenues year over year.
I am a proud University of Alabama graduate. When I heard the news that some Alabama fan had poisoned the trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, I was shocked and saddened. Auburn is Alabama’s greatest rival and is one of the most legendary rivalries in all of college football. For generations when Auburn won a game, fans rushed out of the stadium to toilet paper the mighty oaks at the corner across from Toomer’s Drugs.
A fan of Alabama football, not a alumnus of the University, called in to a radio show to brag that he had poisoned these trees.Â The news swept through the state like wildfire. I was on my way to get on a plane for a meeting and quickly called the University of Alabama Alumni Director, Pat Whetstone, to tell him I wanted to do something for Auburn that showed them we disavowed this awful act. In the south, we believe deeply in tradition and honor. To me, this was an attack on both. I was saddened for Auburn fans to lose an icon at the hand of someone purporting to do so under the guise of “fandom.”
I created a site with a link to a way to donate money to Auburn from Alabama alumni to show them that we honor traditions and honor the ones of our rivals. We stand with them in opposition and are heartsick. I never thought I would say this, but I am proud to say I have donated money to Auburn University. I am glad to see that Alabama alumni all over are also putting forth similar efforts. It makes me proud to know that even when we are on opposing sides, we have core values that are common ground.
Roll Tide and War Eagle.
Google continues its Sherman’s March to the Sea to penetrate the local advertising market. The search giant has long been in the ad business with a monster search product and the AdWords display network. The self-serve ad products offered through Google have long been a way for local advertisers to reach online audiencesÂ through search and build-your-own display ads.
Now, the company has introduced the Google Hotpots product here in Austin aiming to take market share from companies like Yelp, FourSquare and Austin-based Gowalla.Â Google will put teams in Austin to promote the new service and talk to local business owners about using the Hotpot marketing as a way to drive local users to their store.
For local businesses, Google plans to offer a Hotpot starter kit including the NFC-enabled sticker and several promotional items that they can order, such as fortune cookies and coffee stirrers with their own branding (alongside Google’s), free of charge.
The company also plans to pay for billboards and other kinds of advertising for Austin small businesses that wouldn’t typically be able to afford it on their own.
Just like a dealer offering the first fix for free, Google will seduce local advertisers with the power of Google. We believe in getting local businesses to advertise online for a better ROI and we applaud, mostly, this zeal from Google in reaching out to the local market. However, we tend to remind people to be wary of the “Shiny New Object” and the Hotpot does not escape this due diligence from our team.
We must remember that smartphone penetration in the U.S. is still below 50% of all mobile phone users and the online community that is actually using the location based services and apps is at around 4% of this market according to a Pew Internet Study.Â While this market is clearly exploding and Austin is an early adopter city, the future is not here yet.
What does this mean for local businesses? It means they will have even more ways to reach their local customer online in affordable and effective ways.
The bad news for this new service is reserved for the local publications now competing with the behemoth of Google for online advertising dollars. It is now up to the local publishers to offer a value proposition that can beat the affordability, immediacy, cost and seduction (yes, Google seduces) of the Google Hotpot. You have been warned.
Google believes it has direct relationships with 10,000 local small businesses (out of about 40,000 in the area) and that with its Hotpot starter kits, it hopes to make those relationships stronger and create new ones. Get ready, local publisher. You’re about to lose 10,000 clients. Or…are you?
The game may be over, but the buzz of this year’s ads meets the expectations of watercooler analysis in all the media outlets. The real questions aren’t what the media is talking about as they congratulate themselves on another way to pry ad dollars out of big brands and agencies hands, but what is the result from the ads themselves?
According to the social media analytics tool Trendrr, Chryslerâ€™s â€œDetroit/Eminemâ€ was the most buzzed-about spot, at least on Twitter, where users cited the commercial 19,781 times during the hour it premiered. Disneyâ€™s teaser for Transformers 3 was the second most popular ad, with 18,215 tweets in the first hour. Doritosâ€™s fan-created commercials garnered 15,800 tweets in the first hour of the game and 15,050 in the second collectively.
The ad that generated the most positive reaction was Bridgestoneâ€™s â€œReply All,â€ says Zeta Interactive. Ninety-four percent of online discussion about the spot was positive, followed by Pepsi Maxâ€™s â€œFirst Dateâ€ (92% positive), Volkswagenâ€™s â€œDarth Vaderâ€ (91%), Bridgestoneâ€™s â€œBeaverâ€ (90% positive) and the NFLâ€™s â€œHappy Days/Best Fans in the Worldâ€ (90% positive) commercials.
The question remains in the days, weeks, and months ahead…is a multi-million dollar one-off ad generating new sales, changing brand attitudes or increasing revenue or is it just a ego boost for bloated companies with too much money and not enough strategy?
Chrysler, in my opinion, was a great example. Here is a company “back from the brink,” a true American underdog story. That is something America loves. The video was compelling, the story dramatic and the power undeniable. There is just one problem…the ad was for Chrysler. At the end of the day, does anybody really believe Chrysler knows how to do luxury? While the ad is a great ad for a well known brand, trying to change people’s opinions about your brand in one compelling TV commercial is not going to work. If Doritos had used their ad time to tout the nutritional benefits of the delicious cheesy chip we still wouldn’t include them in our New Year’s diets.
While the ad touting Chrysler may not be an outright false claim about the car manufacturer, it will take more than a clever ad on the TV to make us think Chrysler instead of Mercedes-Benz when we think luxury car.
The first of the year is a busy time for us as we plan for annual budgets, answer RFPs for potential new clients and try to do some analysis and figure out what happened in the previous year. For that reason, I usually try to keep my calendar pretty clear during the first couple of months of the year.
I’ve been asked to speak at this year’s American Ad Fed Winter Leadership Conference sponsored and hosted by the Austin Ad Fed. The Winter Rocks Leadership Conference is January 27-29 and I’ll be leading a session on Saturday morning called, “Navigating the Digital Landscape in 2011 and Beyond: A Primer for the Media Planner.” So far, my 32 slides could use some more editing, but it’s going to be a great time and I hope you’ll register and attend! (Oh, and spread the word…tweet it out!)
There is also the annual Austin Business Conference sponsored by The Texas Entrepreneurs Network on February 8. This conference is geared towards the small businessman and provides marketing and business strategy tips from consultants and subject matter experts that are usually consulting for larger companies. I’ll be speaking at this event as well about how the small and local business can leverage digital media with smaller budgets with great online advertising beyond search and Yelp. Registration is only $85 and members of the Austin Interactive Marketing Association get an extra $10 off with the code AIMA10 promotional code.
I think the Austin Business Conference is a great way that Austin fosters the entrepreneurial spirit and as a business owner myself, I’m proud to be a part of that community.
I really love what I do and getting the opportunity to speak to the digital community about trends and ways to be successful provide me with a chance to fellowship with my peers and share in their knowledge about our industry and speaking to a group of business owners to help them grow their business is a wonderful thing. I look forward to dusting off my public speaking persona for 2011 and sharing the good news about digital media and my continued enthusiasm for what we do!
If you would like to contact me about speaking to your group or event, shoot me an email.
Retail sales saw modest growth in December, the sixth sales gain in a row. Retail sales rose by 0.6% compared to the prior month, according to the latest report released by the Department of Commerce. Non-store sales, which are primarily online sales, rose 2.6% month over month in December, the biggest percentage gain for any sector in the report. (Read the full report here. *.PDF)
The report shows modest gains that were below economists forecasts for the holiday season.
Online sales leading to Christmas were merry for many retailers; U.S. Internet sales rose 15.4%, to $36.4 billion, between Oct. 31 and Dec. 23, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, a unit of MasterCard Advisors that tracks sales at 72,000 retailers. (WSJ)
Dragging on the report were sales at local merchants, down 1.3%. Sales were also down at general merchandise and electronics stores according to the report.
While the growth indicates some growth to the economy, the bright spot of online sales continues to show that consumers are moving online in greater numbers. Even local businesses can benefit from a strong online presence and e-commerce options.
There are multiple indicators that lead people online, in addition to a higher adoption of online retailing, factors such as weather, special offers, gasoline prices and ease of use contribute the growth of online sales. These factors are the same for national chains as well as local businesses.
It is important that every retailer have an online presence to continue to drive and grow sales.
This really is from the “Department of the Obvious” for those of us that work in this space. But Pew Research details just where people are getting their news in greater detail with actual facts. We love those.
In 2010, 65% of people younger than 30 cited the Internet (Internet) as their go-to source for news, nearly doubling from 34% in 2007. The number who consider television as their main news source dropped from 68% to 52% during that time.
While the number is a majority for people under 30, the numbers for all adults are up. Forty-one percent of all surveyed said they get their national and international news from the Internet, up 17% from 2007 and at the same time 68% cite TV as their source, down from 74% indicating the trend is spreading among all groups.
While TV is down as the source for news in all age categories, Internet is up in all categories. The study also shows that the decline in TV viewing for news is mirrored in a decline in newspaper readership. It’s also worth noting that radio doesn’t show much of a change. At a mere 16% of people that cite the radio as their source, there is not much room to move in either direction anyway.
The important note is that Internet is on track to equal or even surpass TV as the source of news from the all important demographic of 30-49 in the next few years.
As marketers plan media budgets trying to reach these audiences, their budgets need to shift accordingly. We have seen some budgets shifting greater than 35-40% to online as the returns and costs of TV and print no longer reach their audience in affordable and measurable ways.
We consistently help our agency clients keep and maintain media budgets from their clients as we work with them to strategize in the digital space on where and how to reach their audiences and keep their budgets.
This data is important, because the audience that consume news in any medium is a desirable target for many different sectors. The Internet news consumer is more likely to be a college graduate and have an average HHI of above $75,000.
The table below shows a comprehensive breakdown of news consumption across many different categories. It’s a useful tool in showing how people consume media.
Online media spend outpaced newspapers for the first time in the year just ending.
The internet (including mobile) passed newspapers in 2010 U.S. ad revenue, making the internet the second-largest ad medium behind TV, according to Interpublic Group of Cos.’ MagnaGlobal.
The recession began to turn around in 2009 and after a dismal year in advertising for all media, 2010 marked a significant comeback.
Online spending as a percent of overall budget has increased significantly in 2010 to include more mobile, video and new technology such as third-party ad verification and augmented reality for some retail brands.
As digital media enters 2011, look for more budget allocations to online in the form of more video, better creative and robust mobile offerings. As search continues to increase in price, it’s allure of strong conversions will be replaced, to some degree, with the visuals of good online creative.
We look forward to a great 2011 and can’t wait to get started on some new campaigns.