Friday, March 22, 2013

Not a banner day for advertising

As a public service to anyone planning their next online ad campaign I offer up the following facts about internet banner advertising.

1. Over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users last year. (ComScore)
2. That’s one trillion more than 2009. (ComScore)
3. The typical Internet user is served 1,707 banner ads per month. (Comscore)
4. Click-through rates are .1 percent. (DoubleClick)
5. The 468 x 60 banner has a .04 percent click rate. (DoubleClick)
6. An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)
7. Eight percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)
8. Up to 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)
9. 15 percent of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat, compared to 29 percent for TV ads. (eMarketer)
10. 34 percent don’t trust banner ads at all or much, compared to 26 percent for magazine ads. (eMarketer)

Do you remember when banner ads were supposed to finally bring accountability to the ad business by offering an platform where actual consumer behavior could be measured? The phrase, be careful what you wish for, comes to mind here. It appears that if you're looking for a more cluttered, ineffective and easy to ignore ad tactic, it would be hard to underperform banner ads.

This is why the New York Times and others are trying different revenue models for their online content. It has to be easier to convince consumers to pay for quality content than businesses to pay for ads that work this poorly.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A funny fail

As I stare out over the water at yet another incredible Wisconsin sunrise from the serene and sandy shores of Lake Michigan, I have only one question.

What they hell were they thinking?

Behold the latest effort from the Travel Wisconsin, my adopted home state's marketing arm.

Directed by Wisconsin native and master of low-brow comedy, David Zucker, the spot is filled with all the slapstick mastery he has displayed in his films Airplane!, Naked Gun, Scary Movies 3 & 4, and BASEketball.

Having been raised on the Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and other slapstick masters, I can tell you that aside from a few continuity errors, this spot is actually quite well crafted. The appearance by Airplane! star Robert Hays is a nice touch.

But does this little comedic gem convince people to spend their hard earned travel dollars in Wisconsin? I'd argue no, and that's not the director's fault. It's the agency's.

Advertising isn't that hard. It really needs to do just three things, two of which this spot does well.

First, great advertising has to grab your attention. Check.

Next, it must be memorable. Check.

And finally it must communicate a message that is relevant to the target and different from the competition. Fail.

The message I get is "any idiot can have fun here."

I'm not sure whether the idiot featured is a native or a visitor, but in either case he works against the objective.

If Mr. Hays is supposed to depict a hapless tourist, then the creators of this spot are making fun of the very people we'd like to come visit. (A quick advertising 101 refresher: never insult the people you're trying to separate from their money.)

If Mr. Hays is supposed to be a Wisconsonite, then he's doing a great job of portraying residents as drunken, simple-minded buffoons with a total lack of self-awareness.

I know the argument will be that the spot is generating a lot of buzz. But as we learned from coca cola yesterday; if you're counting on buzz to make the cash register ring today, you can plan on filing for bankruptcy tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It isn't the real thing

If you're counting on online buzz to drive sales, you might as well bet on the Cubs to win the World Series this year.

Yesterday at an Advertising Research Federation conference in New York, Coca Cola – a company that measures just about everything it does – had this to say about the connection between online "buzz" and business results...
We didn't see any significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales.
Count me as one of the least surprised people in the world.

Coca Cola has 99.9999999% awareness. I know where to find it. I know how much it costs. I know how refreshing it is. But somehow the expectation by the advocates of buzz is that I might see a post about Coke on a friend's Facebook page and Twitter feed and suddenly decide to go buy one?

I think not.

After this news and yesterday's post, I hope this signals a return to sanity in marketing where we'll focus more on using the tools for selling rather than just making noise.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Geico gets it

I spend a fair amount of time – maybe too much – pointing out the inane, misguided attraction some marketers have to shiny new things and the ridiculous language they use to justify their infatuation.

Not today.

Because today I want to share an interview with you from a marketer who has thrived in the brave new worlds of interactive and social media without adding to the froth and blather.

Ted Ward is the CMO of Geico Insurance and a very smart marketer.

How do I know he's smart? Well, first of all, he agrees with me.

Actually, this interview in Advertising Age is one of the best examples I've read from someone who understands that the tools of new media are just that, new tools, and do not change the fundamental principles of marketing. This quotation really stood out to me.
There is a reason it is called social media and not business media. There is much less control over the inputs and outputs, and the metrics of success are not as closely tied to direct business results.
It's not that Geico doesn't use social media. It's not that they aren't heavily invested in online marketing. It's just that Mr. Ward and his team know that online and social media all part of a mix and without data proving the efficacy of their activities, all the buzz in the world doesn't matter; an attitude sorely missing in many marketing departments these days.