The wonderful thing about e-marketing is you’re almost never paying for the media itself. It’s this that causes so much angst, so much intrigue, so much bull. And here I am again, sitting up to my arms in it.
I’m actually sitting at Coast, aptly named for Sydney, because it can’t see any. In Melbourne they wouldn’t have the cheek to call themselves that, but Sydney? Oh, the power of the front, the belief in oneself, regardless of the facts… And when they f**k up, like they did with the tunnel, they just put a bigger spin on it. But I digress.
Oh, hang it, lunch is never long enough and many’s the tale a bottle can tell, so why not keep digressing? Lunch is not technically in Darling Harbour at all, ‘cause that’s the other side of the ditch. This is Cockle Bay. An appropriate place for ordering oysters. Which we do. They have three kinds. The guy from Google orders Sydney Rock. The guy from iSelect orders Coffin Bay. I order all three and twice as many, because at my age if you can get a shot of zinc, you take it. It holds loads of promise.
We start the serious part of the lunch about e-marketing with the question ‘Where’s it going?’ or ‘What do you see as the picture five and 10 years out?’
We’re talking ‘off the record’. We talk about what may happen, where it will go. But we can’t say anything definite. And we sure can’t be quoted.
Besides some decent experience in the e-game, this article is based on about 10 of these ‘off the record’ conversations. No one wants to be quoted or named. Why, you may ask? What have they got to hide? Lots.
A changing landscape. A fundamental shift in the power matrix. A gaping hole in the age-old wall of predictability.
We’re talking the slow demise of TV, the rise of consumer power, the march of democracy and the empowerment of anybody. The rise of the creative classes and the mass marketing of experience.
It’s here, right around you, washing you forward. You, as a professional marketer, are as wedded to e-marketing as your feet are to comfortable shoes. We have simply moved on, taken e-marketing on like we took on mobile phones. Doing business via a machine and Bluetooth is life now. When was the last time you sent a memo via snail mail? Did your banking at the branch? Shopped by pot luck, not after internet search?
I view e-marketing like the big bang theory. I see no trends, no directions. Everything is developing so fast it’s more a matter of observing the cloud edges expanding, with us surfing on it.
Web, phones, TVs, radios, emailing, SMSing, sending you clips, sounds, ads, into your car, house, train seat, on your fridge, on your ear, seducing you, educating you, pumping you, scaring you, enveloping you.
It’s fabulous fun when you get down to basics. I can now have a thought and in minutes have researched it enough to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Anything from where to meet a friend, to what to wear or how well things will wear. I’m constantly thrilled by the daily advances.
Soon we’ll be living in a 35-millimetre version of Second Life. All your PC and phone systems will be open online – quality cameras sending you quality images of whatever thing/person you want to see and talk to. And shopping online in any of these worlds.
On that note, virtual life gaming has already got its grip on many. Take the above mentioned Second Life, with a following of 4,424,419 residents as at March 2007, and a following of 7,198,548 residents as at June 2007; almost a 50 percent increase in three months… With US$1,664,868 spent in the last 24 hours, there is some serious value in the game. Why else would giants like Adidas and Nissan have invested?
Speaking of big brands, how do you defend them? What do you do when you stumble across a blog post slamming you? With 87 percent of consumers busy researching online the product they’re about to buy in a traditional store environment, and lots of them blogging when things go wrong, the success of the sale is pretty dependent on your online media and your management of opinion.
Recently Engadget wrote a story saying both Apple’s iPhone and Leopard OS were to be delayed. The info came from what appeared to be an email on Apple’s internal mail server. The result was $4 billion knocked off Apple’s share value in half an hour. Apple was forced to issue a denial and the stock recovered, but it’s an indication of the power of blogging.
But, for all its scary promise and the likely smashing of status quos, e-marketing is, without any shadow of a doubt, absolute marketing Utopia.
You can target people precisely. Send them information that warms them up before trying to close a sale. Get the timing dead right – you can send them emails when you know they are seeking information (gathered from cookies you’ve inserted into their computer ready to spring to life the moment they go to a widget website or type a sentence that implies they are interested in a new car…) and get a computerised person to call them and close. The accountants will love it.
But do you want marketing Utopia? Do you want to work in a marketing world that is so perfect? You don’t have much choice.
Where’s it going? I can only give a few directions to keep an eye on. And like points on a compass, there are hundreds more you could name.
Goodbye Mr TV
The Packers are getting out. That tells you everything. Not soon. Not even in three to four years, but the death of the power and influence (and profitability) of TV is coming. This is something that saddens me more than Essendon being on the bottom of the ladder. I feel like I’m going to lose a leg. TV is my friend, my ace in the hole. TV is the best thing ad agencies like Starship can do, because it works fast and influences everyone.
There’s a silver lining on the cloud though – Millward Brown’s 2007 CTV-1 Study shows that marketers can fully engage their target audience by placing ads in full-length TV shows online.
The results show a higher level of engagement among the online viewers – leading to increased communications awareness, brand appeal and consideration. Online viewers were 53 percent more likely to pay attention to the ads during commercial breaks compare to normal TV viewers. The study also shows that ad recall was four times higher among viewers of the online format versus recall of live or time-shifted viewers. That they were probably being shown the same ads in each break may have something to do with it…
All TV will be online in a few years; it will be free, and plentiful. With free to air TV becoming an irrelevant sideshow in the mid-term future, ad agencies will have to work out how to get traction on millions of sites for similar money. Currently I’m only seeing fragmented, quite expensive eyeballs and it’s hard to buy mass cleanly in any volume.
You’re still back on the issue of how TV will die, aren’t you? What will happen with TV is it will slowly fade away in relevance. I’ve got a mate whose plasma TV, with surround sound, is connected to his Mac, which drives all his entertainment and he makes phone calls and emails while he is on the couch. He uses Skype for mobile/international calls and downloads TV via Juice or Apple TV, I can’t remember.
Telephone = mobile TV/PC
E-marketing is super mobile. Soon you’ll be talking to your watch, Dick Tracy style. This has fantastic advantages for marketing as we can hit people when they are in the mood for things, like food or clothing. We can send them messages as they near the juice shop, suggesting a strawberry slider with patented B as it’s been three days since we’ve had any B and we were drinking last night…
This is great for emergencies and good for keeping sales alive too – invasive technology that adds brilliant connectivity and keeps us connected to the gene pool, but in the same sweep, may destroy a human’s sense of self – pushing us towards a life of Borg.
Like with any sugar coating, there’s a dark side. Great for marketers, bad for humans. Many of the big company websites you go to today send out micro-cookies that enter your computer and make notes of the stuff you like and are interested in buying etc. They then tell other sites you visit, so you get to see ads that are more attuned to your preferences. This means an advertiser can be assured they are hitting on a warmed-up customer. Fantastic for improving response rates.
Media fragmentation = better creative
Where’s the power going to be? In creative content. The reason the creative class will rise to new heights of power and money is because there’s a lot of bucks going into trying to get consumer traction and the only thing the consumer wants is to be entertained or informed or helped in some way (i.e. what’s in it for me?). That does not require big lumps of media spend. In fact, it can’t be bought with simple money. It requires brains. You have to seduce, amuse or charm your customers. You can’t bully them in e-marketing, like you used to on free to air television. They will spam you and blog you if you make a mess of it. If you stuff up your relationship by being too pushy or too dumb, they will simply turn you off. Bye.
You have to make them want to look at you. Shit, how do you do that?
Lots of different, related messages
Integrate broad messages, but vary your message by customer type. How a 60-year-old will view a Snickers Bar is very different from how a 10-year-old does. But they both buy them and they both have a mobile in their hands right now. Be prepared to do five or six executions to different targets if you want the brand to be right for the audience. It will cost more in ad production, but your media costs are so low, it’s a great compromise.
Assume they understand
People are used to the methods of e-buying now. You don’t have to explain SMS shrt hnd do U? And assume your advertising websites will also be savvy. With banners, stick to the standard formats – 728 by 90 (long horizontal) and 250 by 300 (squarish) only.
Speed is cash. Avoid photo-based messages and use vector-based stuff until faster delivery is here. If you’re using footage, keep screen sizes small, to 400 by 600 pixels, to avoid slow delivery.
Google Analytics, Quantcast… there are lots of them. Check your buying systems (Google, podcasts, teaser ads etc.) and site demographics against your objectives and adjust your creative until you get it right.
This is an easy medium to see how good work outshines bad. You can test in minutes. There is no excuse for running poor creative when it is so measurable. Be bold. Be on relevant sites. Talk relevant language and say relevant things. Be exciting. Live a little. Matter.
Have a reason to be loved
Give them experience, values, assistance, humanity, vision, compassion and enjoyment. Be helpful, be useful. Service, and a fantastic corporate culture, sure would help too.
Love the culture
I’m just saying use your brains and get into the community. Option A is a banner ad on Yahoo! But Option B is a dance party game that has them donate $10 to St John Ambulance to save someone who’s ODing, embedded with your ads. Your choice.
Be funny or cruel
E-humour is more brutal, more slapstick. And if you’re not funny or edgy you’re not going to get sent on, so you’ve wasted your money, finito.
Have a long tail
Few of us can afford to dominate on major sites like Yahoo! or ninemsn, but if you follow your buyer’s behaviour and track their steps, you can often buy on less popular, more targeted sites at way below mainstream rates.
People power rules
If you are finding your stuff commented on, don’t answer back. (Learn, and that’s all.) If your board can’t help but try to control it, you will be swamped by the general public who hate corporates being defensive. It’s death to be seen to be corrupting the power of the people. You are invading their personal space. It’s actually much better to make fun of your own brands, your own messaging. Takes maturity, intelligence and guts, but works brilliantly.
Everyone in e-land bags twittering as bland, shallow communications that don’t matter. Who cares if you tell the world how many times you’ve been to the toilet this morning, or what you thought of last night’s Big Brother show? Sure as I’m sitting here typing on a Sunday, let me tell you, the dumber, the sillier, the more the public love something. And the younger the market, the more they say everything – they have no sense of ‘privacy’. Twitter away if you can, without being caught as a company doing it. I know of companies hiring people to send stories out to their friends. But be bloody careful – people easily pick planted information.
The punters want fun things to do. Stimulation, not sales talk. Scare them, infuriate them, just don’t bore them. A hint – if your board warmly approve of something, it’s not going to work. Much better to apologise while showing the results, than bother to ask for permission.
Few of the media sellers support the concept of viral, ‘cause it involves us sending stuff to each other without them getting a slice. But work? You betcha. Any ad worth its budget should be put up on MySpace or YouTube. And sent to all the email addresses you have in your laptop.
Many of the players in e-land are talking about superviral experiences – encouraging punters to make their own ads about your products, and sent out – motivated by ego and/or prizes etc. It’s very scary, but it fits with the moves to customise everything else on e-land – we get our news and our messaging in our own format, why not our own ad experiences?
Second Life, Entropia Universe and worlds like these are going to grow up to become like the Starship’s holodeck. Perfect, computer-generated worlds to live and work within. The end game of this for you is advertising nirvana, being in their other worlds.
Be scared, but jump anyway
Blogs and live footage of your factory and games on phones and all sorts of other things may be the great unknown, but they aren’t to your kids and your customers. Admit it – you go to sites you would love to have done. You get messages on your phone you should have briefed into your agency. Tell your tired old board to get in the bloody water and swim.
Know we are behind
We are behind the ball – Australian broadband must catch up or we will become the laughing stock of the entire world. Our 3- and 4G are behind, and so is a lot of the other gear that makes it all flow in other countries. I know who is to blame, but we can’t print it…
Content is king
The bottom line is whoever is creating/controlling entertainment is the key player. If your ads are hungered for (like Bud Lite) your brand will grow rapidly. If you prefer to stick to the knitting and just be good at making widgets – not good at making ads about widgets – good luck. And “goodbye”, the e-worlds say to you.