Thursday, August 1, 2013

The future of advertising is more advertising

Well, there it is.

Yesterday Facebook announced it would start selling 15-second video ads for as much as $2.5 million per day.

What's surprising about this is not that video ads will now be part of Facebook's everyday experience, but that the only way you'll be able to target your ads is by age and gender.

So basically, they're admitting to the lie they and every other social media platform has been telling advertisers since the invention of the internet and will advertise to their users just like television does, en masse. No geographic targeting. No affinity targeting. No slicing and dicing their reams of data so I can speak to the exact person I want to at the exact moment that matters most.

The one-to-one future is dead, at least for now.

Facebook is a mass-medium and proves that when it comes to marketing. They've proven customization doesn't scale. The platform's only real value is in the aggregate of its users.

Maybe this will change. Maybe when we're all used to seeing spots roll after every 20 posts on our timeline they'll start selling space to local advertisers and microtargeters. If they're selling a few hundred companies a day at a million dollars or more, 365 days a year, however, why would they?

The folks at the networks are breathing a little easier tonight.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In advertising bigger is only one thing, bigger.

Over the weekend Publicis and Omnicom announced their intention to merge. Of course the public statements were all about improving client service, the creative product and overall effectiveness of their work. There is, however, really only one thing this merger is about:


Not to be too cynical, but the benefits to the clients in this are few and far between. Maybe somewhere there's a big data angle here to help the new company better compete with Google, but even the clients don't expect much to change. Anheuser-Bush InvBev VP of Marketing, Paul Chibe was quoted in Ad Age as saying, "It doesn't change anything."

So this larger holding company will gain efficiencies in back room operations, be able to consolidate some real estate, and probably jettison a few thousand newly redundant staff members making it less costly to produce the same amount of work. All reasonable business moves.

I can guarantee you, however, the monetary gains from increased efficiency won't result in lower rates charged to clients.

I'd love to be Maurice Levy's real estate agent today...

Monday, July 29, 2013

A brand is not a veneer

I'm not sure if this story is about the power of a brand or the depth of some people's stupidity.

Since I learned about it on the Colbert Report, I'm guessing it's the latter.

Either way, it's a good story and yet another reason why branding gets a bad rap... (sorry).

This is another example of what I call veneer branding, taking an ordinary product and applying a brand to the surface in an attempt to make it more valuable. In this case it works – shockingly well – but it's the rare example. Kanye's following is either passionate enough or so utterly blind that they're willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money for anything that has his name on it. Good for him.

But every time he adds more benjamins to his bank account by charging $120 for a product that's not substantially different from the one that's available at Target or Walmart for $5, he's making a withdrawal from his his brand bank.

All he has to do is look at Plymouth, TWA, Circuit City and Hydrox and the thousands of other brands that slapped their names on undifferentiated products to turn a profit.

What Kanye's doing isn't really branding. It's profiteering.