I am the oldest of four (technically second oldest after my twin). Anyway, part of the rite of passage for being the oldest child is sitting through hours of little kids shows because your mom doesn’t have the time nor enough wine to do it day in and day out. My little sister made me sit through so many hours of Barney that I still have a song memorized about rocket ships. At the end of each episode they wrap it up with a life lesson. I grew up with GI-Joe (Knowing is Half the Battle) and just like the big, fat, purple dinosaur - it too had a best practice/learnings to share. The audience, the budding children of society, learn from these shows as they navigate their way to well-adjusted adults like us.
Social is laughing at Mobile #fanacquisition #mobileappinstalls
We tend to make the same mistakes over and over again in Media. When Paid Social first entered marketing budgets it was allocated to acquiring Facebook fans for a fraction of a dollar. Brands needed fans. Didn’t care where they came from. Then a year later after spending $500k on a fan acquisition campaign Mr. CFO asks Mr. CMO - “so what was the business impact for all these fans?” Brand X wasn’t thinking about quality, LTV, or applying business metrics to their marketing activity. Instead, they thought too tactically and made the tactic of acquiring fans the business objective when it was never meant to be. So now Brand X has 500k fans from Malaysia that missed the mark on their target audience.
Mobile App Installs for Mobile are the Fan Acquisition campaigns for Social. Millions of dollars are being spent to acquire more and more app downloads with what seems like a very clear strategy, but in actuality might be a disjointed tactic. It’s very important to have an audience. It’s the foundation for future marketing efforts and for mobile that translates to app installs. Game and App developers use Mobile App Installs to drive DAU and feed the machine so they can better monetize their app portfolio. Both Brand and App Developers may one day have the same epiphany that Brands had with Paid Social - “So what do we do with these people now?”
Your customers – they’re worth it.
It’s less expensive in the long run to acquire qualified customers than it is to acquire cheap ones. Brand X’s CMO probably had to spend another $500k to get qualified fans then after that deal with a reach issue because the unqualified fans were inflating reach estimates making it more expensive for the marketer to reach qualified audiences interested in the brand’s messaging. Same for Mobile. Garnering quality users that come back to the app, buy more games from the app developer’s portfolio, and align with the brands that runs cross those apps and games is an investment - not a fire sale.
Thought process: Native device usage -> everybody poops
Another life lesson from Social that applies to Mobile - it’s native. But it’s true and I’m not just talking about native ad units. The device itself is native. More so than any other Media we consider a channel (and I still don’t think Social is a channel). We tend to disconnect ourselves from our target audience. Rule #1 of media planning is never talk about media planning. Rule #2 you’re not the target audience. However, Mobile is different. From a usage perspective - we are all kind of the same. We all call our moms on our way to our bus stop. We use our phone as music players at the gym, we check emails, and we bring it to the bathroom when we go #2…everyone poops people. So think about the how the audience interacts with the messaging, and also the device. Keep it native.
As we navigate these emerging mediums we should pull from tried and true logic and learn from the misfortunes of others.
I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family…ok I’m going.
I sat behind three tween girls over my holiday break for two hours. This is what I discovered:
The current device of choice does not support reclusive behavior
I fell in love with my Playstation in 1996. I was 11 and could not stop playing Tekken 2. Here’s a picture of my little sister (yes, she’s in her baby onsie) and I (cropped out due to her Facebook cropping skills) playing against each other. She’s an undergrad at USC now and shows no signs of degenerate behavior by my early mentorship.
Unlike my years holed up playing Tekken 2, these tweens sitting behind me were taking selfies together “Heading up to the mountain #shreddinthegnar” and talking about who they’re going to invite to accompany them for the 1D tickets they got for Christmas. Not very reclusive behavior. In fact, it was annoying social.
Their mobile devices are not just communication and entertainment devices, but experience and real world support and amplification tools. Mobile devices will most likely be heavily used during the 1D concert to blast music for the pregame (with juice, milk, [insert non alcoholic beverage]) to the concert, taking Snapchats and Instagrams of concert and selfies with group, and used to record snippets of the concert that they’ll replay at school to friends that didn’t go.
Parents got Xbox One and their Tweens got the iPhone 5s
I’m not saying iPhones are replacing the Xbox Christmas Gift freak out – I’m just saying the gift receiver freaking out is not the tween, but the parent. Parents want the Xbox as a home entertainment system not necessarily for gaming. The battle this Christmas season between the PS4 vs Xbox One wasn’t discussed by these tweens – their parents did though.
Perhaps planning for Xbox or PS4 doesn’t default to the 18-24 males, heavy gamers, and soda drinkers. It now defaults to parents and households much like TV with mobile extending to the younger audiences. With devices like Roku, Apple TV, and now consoles becoming the go-to home entertainment system we can’t look at game consoles as a male, techie heavy media consumption platform.
Device hand-me-down behavior
The oldest of the group (15yo) got the new iPhone 5s so she gave her iPhone 5 to her sister (13yo) and her sister gave her iPhone 4 to the youngest (11yo). This type of device hand-me-down behavior will only continue into the coming years. What does that mean for planners? Firstly, privacy issue – making sure the 11 year old won’t be treated like her 13-year-old sister when it comes to data (COPPA). Secondly, adjusting to this potential trend that a signal for audience segmentation might be device make – i.e. if there’s 6 devices in a household it could be assumed that the legacy model of a device will be used by the youngest in the family with current being the eldest.
Game consoles will get older, mobile devices will get younger, but both will be instilled in the household dynamic among every member of the family.
If 2013 was the year of the selfie then 2013 was also the year of the self-serve in Media. We live in a DIY, customizable, controlled world and media buying’s self-serve trend is no contradiction to this new mentality. We create Nike shoes, Save the Date cards, and buy Facebook Ads all thanks to pretty user interfaces and unified payment systems (Paypal, Stripe, Braintree, Square). But is self-serve really that glamorous and cost effective for the power user/agency/trading desk/tech savvy client side marketing team? Joanna O’Connell beat me to the punch today and also is a bit more articulate than I, but here’s a blonde take on it:
Cutting the Agency Out…or not
One of the main arguments for self-serve is the presumption that by cutting out layers you cut your costs and drive up ROAS. What might be true if you look at a LUMAscape, but what we all know is not the ‘real world’ in media is that media doesn’t flow linearly and neither do markups. Let’s assume that Joe’s Shoes uses Media Guru Agency for their buying and does their creative work in-house. Let’s also assume that Media Guru Agency is part of a Biggy Big Holding Company. 50% of Joe’s Shoes goes through the Biggy Big’s trading desk, 30% goes to ad networks, and the last 20% goes to direct buys. I’ll let you do the math on the arbitrage here, but let’s just look at straight operational costs for leveraging self-serve in-house:
Assuming the agency takes a 15% markup on media spend Joe’s Shoes $250,000 Q1FY14 budget is planned for $212,500. Joe’s Shoes pays Media Guru Agency $37,500 quarterly or $150,000 annual to plan and execute their campaigns. For Joe’s Shoes to take this in-house it would be more expensive by looking at salaried employees (this does not account for benefits, free shuttles, and foosball):
Director, Programmatic Buying ~$110,000
Programmatic Display Manager ~$95,000
Paid Social Manager ~$85,000
Partnerships/Direct Buys ~$95,000
Marketing Business Analyst/Excel Monkey ~$90,000
Ad Ops Specialist ~$80,000
Joe’s Shoes would employ a team costing them $555,000 annually to do what their agency did for 70% less.
Workflow Shouldn’t Be Unified
Speaking of agencies, what some don’t realize is that self-serve media buying is primarily used by two totally different parties: Agency Trading Desks and SMBs. One services some of the largest agencies in the world with buying power even Bitcoin holders would find impressive while the other works scrappy and sends emails to an alias for buying support. Yet self-serve products try to accommodate both parties needs. One of the best examples of self-serve’s evolution to become less mass accommodating and more focused is the Facebook Initiative workflow roll out. Facebook took a step back to improve workflow and instead of everyone seeing the same bells and whistles they created a more streamlined and customized workflow depending on if the advertiser wanted reach, acquisitions, app installs, etc.
Features that aren’t important to the power user (Agencies) such as stock images, off the shelf reporting dashboards and standard attribution models are things SMBs need. Agencies looking for data export features, robust targeting and optimization functionality, and congruency with existing platforms they’re using (such as DMPs) can create product pipeline headaches. Moreover, while one would argue that self-serve should accommodate the power user first, SMBs collectively make up a massive amount of media spend (~$1.5BN in Paid Social alone). So where do you put your efforts? You could do what Facebook or even Google did and offer self-serve, but create an ecosystem of platform and vertical specialists (the Salesforces, Marins, Nanigans, of the world) that can be an advertiser facing layer that helps fully realize an advertiser’s spend. So now we’re creating another middleman by offering self-serve? Not really, just changing the way the advertiser interacts with the middleman. Instead of executioners they’re now specialists and platform advisors.
The Middleman Becomes the Specialist
I bet the majority of the volume going through self-serve today is for retargeting. Basic retargeting is like the Easy Bake Oven of self-serve tactics. Doesn’t require adult supervision. Advance to the Viking Gas Range with Prospecting and more dynamic retargeting tactics to realize the value of the ‘middlemen’. Self-serve across other mediums - connected TV, video, mobile, etc. are somewhat negatively impacted by self-serve because testing within self-serve is less frequent without the educational support for emerging media. Clients push agencies to think differently, test and trading desks should push their self-serve in the same manner. However, self-serve is just a tool - not a recommendation engine. Until it becomes that way, agencies need to leverage the self-serve provider as specialists into all inventories, platforms, and formats they access. Take your DSP for instance, the DSP sees the whole universe you bid through and therefore can give you a macro view of the marketplace dynamics, trends, targeting parameters and nuances of each channel (mobile, video, display, etc.) that it includes. What does this mean? DSPs should staff up on planners and people able to advise power users from a place of authority rather than be passive and just there to troubleshoot. Agencies can work with self-serve providers to make them bring more strategic offerings to them and their clients - private deals, data partnerships, alpha programs with Facebook/Google/inventory sources and best practices.
If self-serve is your ticket to cutting costs then think about the executional layer, billing, and technical aspects before you ditch your agency. If you’re providing the self-serve services - create a consulting layer. Not just a troubleshooting layer. Ok, now go read Joanna’s post because it’ll add additional substance to my position.
Social networks facilitate brand content distribution, creation, and ideation…and CMOs have no control. Utilizing UGC content in branded content and ads is a nightmare, but brands make little effort to control and monitor the content. Google a brand like “Levi’s Jeans” and Google Images will deliver over a million results. Much of them altered and copied without knowing which the original was. With additional photo-centric apps and sites like Pinterest and Instagram increasing the complexity of the issue – CMOs need to make external image management just as important as its own branded advertising. Social teams try to combat the issue with single logins, advanced tag management systems, and built in features to control content during ad creation workflow within key networks, CMOs need a viable enterprise level solution to gain control of the current uncontrollable risk in dealing with Social.
Photoshop fails and UGC pictures used in ads of origins unknown to the advertiser are the catalyst for PR nightmares. Social media monitoring tools have been out in the market for years, but image-focused controls are still not commonplace. If you look at most of the activity that happens among users across the web – 70+% is image driven. Images drive action and attention yet most CMOs are focused on the content and words wrapped around the image. It’s easy for any user to hijack an image with a save command function that even my grandma has mastered downloading Facebook pictures I look my thinnest in to show her friends over the years. Recent image hijacked campaigns include Shell’s Arctic Ready campaign and backlash from the community around Lana Del Rey’s H&M shoot as images of the original shoot were passed around the Internet.
Advertisers need look no further than their own consumers to recognize the importance of image control. First, the rumor that Facebook inserted user’s profile pictures into ads run on their platform caused mass chaos that they dedicated part of their own blog to debunking and later this year we had the Instagram Ts&Cs scare. The iconography of a user is personal and intimate and advertisers (and clearly platforms themselves) can easily violate the trust of a user. Social media users get savvier and savvier as the Internet matures by educating themselves on privacy controls and using apps like Snapchat if they really want to send pictures meant for only intended audiences. But what can advertisers use to keep their images from getting photoshopped, hijacked and other various brand-hindering activities done to them?
CMOs receive numerous reports on brand efforts, campaign performances, sales driven by channels, etc. yet there isn’t a precedent to update them on the status of image control and safeguards. Brands currently pull various levers that puts a bandage on the major gap in external image management with SEO, image tagging for Google crawlers, reverse image searches (made popular by Catfish and perhaps something Manti Te’o should invest in) and niche photographer software that’s more tailored for copyright and royalty regulation than enterprise advertising needs. Most solutions focus on content and image management internally, but not externally. Solutions that track externally are suspect and CMOs should ask tougher questions at solution providers since many external solutions only track the original image once it’s circulated throughout the Internet and not after the second, third or fourth iteration. Before an ad launches or a PR initiative goes out, the image control process should be clearly defined. What service or levers will be in place to monitor, control and mitigate risk?
As advertising campaigns become more integrated with user generated content, feedback and participation across multiple platforms – the need for control intensifies. Content copyright controls have been in place across organizations for years as a grandfathered system from the print era. However, the digital landscape highlights and exploits the weaknesses in a brand’s ability to control consumer perception from large to small by not being able to clearly define and execute their image control strategy. If content is king then images are gods and CMOs are starting to realize the importance of image management.
I went to Outside Lands this past weekend, and the number one thing in my news feed other than hipster; Coachella-esque face paint selfies were my friends wearing Esurance bands. A company called Tagstand, a NFC technology provider, powered Esurance’s Insider bands. Concertgoers used Facebook Connect to register for a wristband and picked them up at Outside Lands during the event. The interesting thing about the campaign was not that Esurance was aligning with a young, hipster audience but that they were capturing and foster a potential customer set that will pay off for decades and not just email, but their network, friends, pictures, music preferences, and social/communication style.
I hate saying that every Advertiser does something these days for data, but to overlook a campaign that incorporates tracking technology to create a unique user experience is a rookie mistake. Foursquare even realized that check-ins are a means to data and that their data was the value – not the gamification aspect of their platform. Advertisers are getting smarter with data capture and CRM building activities by creating experiences through emerging technologies that create dual value. Esurnace created an enhanced experience to Outside Land concertgoers and their friends just like how platforms have done for the past few years for monetization efforts (i.e. Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube, Pandora, etc.). Wearable devices are a new means to an end in this new gold rush – data rush era.
Fitbit raised $43M, Nike created a developer ecosystem to develop off its Nike FuelBand, Jawbone is investing heavily in apps partnerships to enhance its UP band and Apple and Google are fighting over a watch and a pair of glasses as the next innovative piece of hardware we’ll all be wearing. I saw some Google Glass wearing concertgoers at Outside Lands, and I felt like Batman in a comic book scene fighting Zeiss. The Esurance bands created a temporary insignia throughout the event whereby friends were sending Facebook invites to their friends who weren’t wearing the wristbands so they could register thus creating a better user experience. Wearable devices for brands are only as good as the amount of users and their network that use them as well. The Nickelodeon/Fruit Loops sponsorship is a great example of how to leverage wearable devices. Send in your address and details with proof of purchase and you got a Fruit Loops Nickelodeon watch filled with green slime. Data capture + Green Slime Watch = Dual Value. As an awkward pre-teen, I was more than happy to have my mom send in all the Fruit Loops box bar codes I had hoarded for the past several months to score a piece of iconography showing how cool I was at school in the form of a $1.00 watch with green crap dripping out of every seam.
Although the media is obsessed with covering how advertisers will use iWatch and Google Glass – there’s a realized opportunity for advertisers to test wearable devices. Brands can be ahead of the pack before both devices hit the market by gaining learnings on how audiences use wearable devices advertisers offer as a vehicle for enhanced experiences and swag. Advertisers should leverage NFC in practical manners, be able to analyze and measure activity via Facebook Connect or other registration means, and leverage the data for future campaigns and activities going forward.
From my latest post on The Makegood:
Advertising is still obsessed with the young and the beautiful, but when it comes to their employees they expect certain tenure. ‘Paying your dues’ is par for the course in climbing the ranks of ad agencies, but savvy, young admen and women are finding bigger roles elsewhere thanks to the increase in startups in the media space. Now, we’re seeing a lack of strong mid-level agency folks and an ever-changing managerial structure within media startups. The industry is in a schism among the young workforce and the two parties involved can do something about it before it changes the industry for the worse.
I’m a Gen Y so I can say that we are an entitled, narcissistic, shameless generation. The hardest job I’ve done to date was managing interns and people my own age. Managing people older than me was easy. I remember one of my media planners telling me the reason it’s easy to manage people of his generation was because “we’re too old to know everything”. Although the young agency workforce has traits that aren’t conducive to the most seamless management structure, they are the first generation to truly be “digital natives”. I was born with a computer and TV in my room and remember bringing an RCA Lyra to school with a 32MB memory filled with songs I ripped off from Napster. My friends and I would pass around the earbuds during recess to listen to Limp Bizkit and Backstreet Boys. For my 8th grade Math project, I used my iMac G3 and the native Exel-esque software to create nifty charts and poll the entire middle school on their favorite shoe brand with mostly ‘skater’ shoes, Adidas, and Nike to see if their brands resonated with this audience. DC Shoes and Emerica won with Nike at the very bottom. I ended up sending the results to Nike with the recommendation (thanks to my teacher) to focus on this younger crowd that has fallen out of favor with Nike and opted for more ‘lifestyle’ brands. Moreover, that they should launch a lifestyle line for the alternative sports crowd. Nike mailed me back saying that they didn’t consider alternative sports a core value of Nike – that skate shoes were not something they’d be investing in, but thank you. I kept the letter.
The Onion put it best when the Publicis-Omnicom deal was announced, “Merger Of Advertising Giants Brings Together Largest Collection Of People With No Discernible Skills”. They did it to themselves. On a call between a director-level agency employee and a potential hire wanting to get back into the agency world from startup land the following was said, “You’re too young to make that much if you want to go back to an agency. Great experience; but just so young to be hired for this role”. Aside from the fact that there’s an HR violation with stating age, Agencies are turning down capable candidates. With media holding companies becoming more and more infatuated with startups in the space to invest in, consult, and introduce to clients – you’d expect the culture to change; to accept a workforce regardless of age to drive an agency with innovative, disruptive ideas and fervor.
Media startups are using agencies as their workforce farm league picking the high potential prospects (account managers and media planners). Agencies are becoming the ‘public sector’ of advertising – slow, low pay, and redundant workforce while startups continue to steal the innovation, creativity, and efficiencies that agencies used to pride themselves on. Like I said in a previous post on my blog – agencies are big (i.e. the hippo, elephant), and in order to attract and retain young talent they need to create a startup culture within each team. Be the middle school math class and allow the young workforce to change a big brand.