Friday, August 14

Digg Our Portfolio and Read Our Cafeteria's Yelp Review!

There's nothing more obsolete online than the advertising agency website. In the ad biz reputation is everything. It's who you know and who knows you. Or at least someone who knows someone who knows the guy who used to work with you and thought you two should meet.

If you rely on your agency website to generate new biz leads then you are doomed. If you rely on your website to attract good employee talent then you are doomed. Rely on your website to express your agency culture, competitive difference, and creative philosophy? Doomed.

At best these sites are Creative Directors Gone Wild expressions of navel-gazing ego-filled self-flagellation that confuse the hell out of the average visitor. At worst they are built by the PR interns and a couple freelancers between pitches, barely worth the cheap hosting space they occupy.

Which makes the recent Adweek article -- that agency sites are going Web 2.0 in an effort to impress everyone else -- even more ironic:
Agency sites, once a sea of client work and clever copy, increasingly are experiments in social media and other Web 2.0 technology. The goal of an agency is not only to show potential clients its ability to create state-of-the-art experiences with site navigation, aggregation and customization, but to create forums for consumer insights about the shop and its work.
First of all, potential clients could care less about your site. And if they did visit it, then a whacked out 2.0 explosion is bound to ensure they step away slowly never to return. So I call bullshit on this:
"For clients searching for an agency and doing their own research, the Web site is very important," says David Beals, president and CEO of new-business consultancy Jones Lundin Beals. "It's a first peek of what the agency is about, what they stand for. ... If a client is very into social media or networking, an agency can send out that signal through their own Web site."
If I have to go to your website to understand your relationship with social media, then that pretty much answers it.

Clients select agencies based on their street cred, their creative reel and, just sometimes, their actual strategic recommendations. Even an awesome agency iPhone app can't change that. Reducing your site to 140 characters or less? That's a start.

Thursday, August 13

Microspam = Macroprofits

I still hold true to my theory that Twitter’s future is as a content repository, not a communication tool. Let’s face it, the majority of Twitter users are pumping out personal content with minimal knowledge if anyone actually reads it. It’s always a surprise when someone retweets or direct replies to my posts. After awhile you forget there are actually Twitter people following you.

But match exponentially-growing content with the idea of live search, and suddenly something interesting is happening in Twitterville: contextually-targeted 1 to 1 real time communication. In 140 characters or less that teeters on the border of Microspam.

Earlier this summer I posted a tweet that mentioned "Tetris" [made it to the 8th level of Luggage Tetris]. Immediately I received notice that I was retweeted by @a_Tetris. Which, under closer inspection, is a Twitter account automatically reposting any tweet with Tetris in it. With 376 followers, not sure the overall benefit of that, but interesting use of technology nonetheless.

Similar thing happened when I used "moon" [gave permission for the kids to moon the Applebee's next to our hotel]. Oh Obi Wan imposter, your retro one liner was delightfully unexpected, even if you have repeated it 35,000 times.

A month later we were on a roadtrip and I tweeted about a roadside church sign [Alabama church sign of the day = Stop, drop & roll won't work in Hell]. Again, immediately retweeted by @Church_Sign, who reposts any church sign tweet to a limited group of devout Americana Christians.

I doubt these people are hitting Twitter Search every 5 minutes with their keywords of choice. Already there is a software business model evolving to support your every Twitter need -- similar to all the new service companies that eBay spawned as it grew in popularity [1, 2, 34567].

These are interesting uses of real-time responses to real-time content, under the guise of real-time communication. But what about all the dotcom entrepreneurs, up late trying to figure out How do I make money off this damn thing?

Oh, hello @JoniSloan, you may be a genius.

So today I posted a little Kindle-related wit [lady on flight carried a Kindle and a paperback, which kinda defeats the purpose]. Immediately I was reposted by @JoniSloan, who noted that she was reading a book on her Kindle and loved it. Included in her post was this short URL = I noticed she include six other @people in her reply, who probably also mentioned Kindle around the same time I did. A click of the URL sent me to Amazon’s Kindle purchase page.

A quick view of her recent tweets shows she reposts specifically about purchasable products. All accompanied by links to e-commerce sites, all tagged with affiliate marketing codes. So Joni is earning a few pennies for any purchases made by users who clicked her tweet links. All of the sudden you’ve got a Twitter business model! Microfiliate Marketing!

I’m not quite sure if this ranks as contextually-relevant Spam. Maybe when it reaches the point where every one of my tweets receives a slew of retweets, directly related to the number of nouns that I used in it. But for now it’s one of the smartest manipulations of Twitter since the fake celebrity account.

So here’s your test of the day. Tweet this and see what happens:

Just passed a church sign that said:
"Hell is playing Kindle Tetris on the moon.”

Tuesday, August 11

Democracy Has No Place In Advertising

There's an old saying in advertising that if you want consumers to love your TV ads, just put babies and puppies in them. Which is kinda true. Everyone loves puppies and/or babies. They are fun to look at, especially when doing something cute like getting messy or making a funny face. Come on, you lovvvvve it!

This is also known as the Last Ditch Attempt to win a client over, after they have chewed up and spit out the last 5 creative reviews (the client, not the puppy).

But you are likely to get a big fat middle finger if you ask consumers directly if they like advertising. Of course not! The horror! Ads suck! Where's my Tivo cheat code for the 30 second skip button? [here it is]

Consumers don't hate advertising. They just hate the fact that advertising persuades them to buy things they weren't really thinking about.

Which makes the recent news that Digg will allow users to vote on ads -- and potentially tie back an ROI to these approvals -- completely hilarious. I mean, preposterous. I mean, probably unavoidable given our fascination with all things online collaborative:
Those votes don’t just affect where an ad shows up on the site, but also how much Digg charges the advertisers for each click; the more a readers like an ad, the less advertisers pay. That creates an additional incentive for the advertisers to create good ads, and for Digg users to actually read and interact with them.
The average CTR is a dismall 1 out of 1,000 users who see a banner ad. The chance that they will go one step further and express an opinion on that banner? Better get those baby wranglers on retainer. What's your Cost Per Approval (CPAval)?

The idea that a banner's likability should determine its cost (and ultimately its ROI) is like saying Google should charge more for funny paid text links. Sure your insurance link might get a thumbs up if it was in the form of a limerick, but does that mean it is driving more qualified traffic to your quote engine?

Then again, there is the recent debate that Bud Light's sales decline is directly related to its lack of funny.

As I have ranted previously, the problem with online advertising isn't the state of its creative execution. It's the fact that consumers have learned to completely ignore your "traditional" online ad units. Like or dislike is irrelevant when consumers are systematically ignoring you from the start. When the Tivo skip button is subconscious then even a Human Baby - Puppy - Kitten Incubator online ad is doomed.

Wednesday, August 5

"S-" is the new "E-"

Remember back in the day when Cyber was the suffix du jour? We had Cybercafes, Cyberspace, Cybermalls, Cybersex. Cyber, cyber, cyber. Then one day Cyber became sooooo 1996 and we switched over to the more modest, less likely to mock, e-. eCommerce, eBanking, eBooks, eCRM, eCoupons, eMail, eToys, eBay, e, e, e. It became synonymous with "something you can do in real life, but on the Internet instead!" The fastest way to distinguish that your program or service was cutting edge and different.

Well, e is soooo 2008. Please welcome the new prefix 2.0 ... Sesame Street interlude here ...

s- !

Yes s, as in Social of the networking variety. Social media, with Facebook and Twitter as the poster children, is finally incorporating itself into standard online marketing strategies. Can't figure out how to cram your marketing into social media? Cram social media into your marketing! Just add an s to it.

(Once again Mobile gets dethroned so close to the finish. Bye bye m-, we barely new ya.)

Here's a couple s terms coming your way in the next fiscal marketing year:

Sure some marketers are tapping into social networks to enhance their purchasing experience [Jansport w/Fbook Connect] or promote their sales promotions [Dell, local malls].

But the new trend is cramming eCommerce into the social networks themselves. Bring the shopping cart, cash register, and UPS truck to the consumers, if you can lure them away from tagging old high school photos long enough to actually buy something. 1800 Flowers just launched an e-commerce page on Fbook. Other retailers are sure to quickly follow.

Does this position Fbook as the next Can they actually charge enough commission to make a decent living? Too early to tell, but at least it provides something new to dangle in front of the investor community.

So what happens when Microblogging meets Micropayments? Who will be the first to figure out an eCommerce transaction via Twitter? [hint: Pizza Hut]

More importantly, will they create a funny name for it (twuys requiring twitcash)? Perhaps Paypal should buy Twitter to protect their eCash from sCash. The South Bay Community Network might just be sitting on a golden URL.

It's like eMail but less trackable! My Fbook inbox and Twitter direct messages are just as congested as my Outlook. Which means they are now prime candidates for marketing clutter.

Actually, I think limiting emails to 140 characters could be the most productive technology solution since charging for faxes per page. I have no problem implementing private tweets as the new corporate messaging platform. Even better if attachments are limited to 140KB.

Finally, my favorite fuzzy acronym. CRM on its own has a hundred definitions and receives the most hesitant not-sure-exactly-what-you-are-talking-about headnods per capita of any marketing term. eCRM is often pitched as the solution if you don't have a CRM program.

Where CRM focuses on the lifetime value of a consumer, eCRM focuses on using the internet to cheaply maintain that relationship. All of which is very one-to-one. Where is the viral word of mouth influence in that?

But add an s to CRM and now we're talking viral. I envision sCRM as maintaining a relationship with consumers who have the highest likelihood to socialize your brand. Thus you could potentially reach a much larger audience through key influencers, without messing around with double opt-ins and database fields. Pyramid scheme relationship marketing. Amway would be impressed.

Of course, you need a plan for actually identifying those influencers and communicating with them. Which is how the new breed of sMarketing agencies are born.

Our industry loves buzzwords. Social continues to rank at the top of the hype list, destined to be ingrained in your marketing strategies for the near term.

So pick you favorite marketing term, add an s, and be amazed when your programs are recognized as the future of marketing.