July 30, 2008
Teenagers don’t use email. They text or IM. Email is too slow. They can watch TV, conduct 12 IM sessions, listen to music, respond to text messages, talk on the phone and do homework all at the same time. When sending text or instant messages is too restrictive, they post to all of their friends at once, on Facebook or MySpace. Teenagers actually believe they will die faster from cell phone deprivation than if they stop breathing. Computers are important; cell phones are basic necessities.
This is the new audience for advertising. Linear communication is not going to work.
An entire industry was built around designing a message and getting it out very efficiently to a lot of people. The communication may have been to a lot of people, but it was linear—us to them. Change was slow. Feedback was slow and imprecise. They could be broken into segments, and each segment had its own message, sent linearly to sub-groups of “them”. “Them” didn’t communicate much with each other.
The new audience needs speed, has mass attention-deficit disorder, talks to each other constantly, and gives lots of feedback that they want to be heard. Thanks to technology, we can now address each of them individually, and even know where they are when we send them messages. The switch from mass media to internet to mobile has changed everything about communicating with “them”, and made their messages to each other just as important as our messages to them.
Ad agencies had better understand the technology that makes all this possible. Web design is just linear communication on a new platform. We need to be interactive and mobile and personal. We need to insert messages around the non-linear communications that “they” send to each other. We need to know what will capture their attention in the seconds available so they’ll see our messages at all. This is pretty hard to do, and the mobility and technology of cell phones makes it even harder. But the precision and individuality of cell phones also makes it more valuable.
July 27, 2008
This is a question that I often asked myself when looking for agencies as CEO for both Boost and Amp’d Mobile. Continually, I wondered just how long the traditional model would be able to remain, as most agencies we engaged simply didn’t get it.
Media and content companies, as well as other traditional forms of advertising delivery, continue to undergo radical and unpredictable changes. No surprise there, and everyone in the industry who has spare time seems to write about it. But as networks and content providers search for new business models and continue to try to work out who their friends are, agencies seem to do a lot of talking, but not a lot of acting.
Repeatedly, agencies preach the concept of change with their claims of understanding the complexities of new digital media. For us at both Boost and Amp'd as brands, they had no really compelling new ideas, or even a strategy as to how to execute behind one, for that matter. So it was constantly left to us. And as we were being awarded Marketers of the Year (both Boost and Amp’d) the surprise in my mind was that the creative ideas were coming from my in-house creative team led by our Chief Creative Officer Scott Anderson, and myself. Remember the "old people" spots at Boost, and the “I saw it on Amp’d Mobile” spots? All were conceptualized and created in this manner. Now don’t get me wrong, every agency had the requisite emerging digital technology guy with his feet up, reading the latest $3000 ad reports while booking his travel to the next conference that even passingly mentioned the words "digital" and "media" in its title. Often going to so many that he'd end up on a panel, talking about the very things that he was there to learn about. What are they all looking for? Hopefully for that secret sauce; the eleven secret herbs and spices that would allow them to see through all the clutter and build the quintessential “PowerPoint from Hell” they'd use to pitch agency heads, forever changing the agency and all its clients. Yet they stick to their old and increasingly less relevant formula of rolling out the old grey haired "Guru" who had createda multitude of memorable campaigns for companies back in the late 70's and 80's, whose companies, and brands, by the way, have long since changed.
So, what is the true value of the traditional agency and its role in relation to the brands of today? And why, when clients are screaming for new and innovative ideas, do companies remain with agencies that, quite simply, struggle?
Why you may ask?
I believe the answer is as simple as their need to maintain a certain “comfort level.” Better the Devil you know. But wait, this is supposed to be a world of risk takers in a digital frontier, isn't it? They will take the risk... as long as Research says the risk is less risky than what the predicted original risk was – thus virtually eliminating the risk altogether.
Let's face it, having a big name agency who’s handled your work for years provides clients with a feeling of security. It’s like the blanket your kids have and can't go to sleep without. Inevitably, they end up growing out of that dependence, and it's time the brands out there do the same. A vast number of these big name agencies are simply living on the success of past ideas. If you think about it, it's not an agency’s primary selling point. In fact, so many agencies pitched to us based solely on work from their past. When we'd ask if the team that did the work shown would be the the creative team working on our account, we'd often discover they'd well and truly left the agency. We would be left pondering "what exactly are you guys selling?!?"
Problem is, as the ad networks and content providers will tell you, small original production companies on the smaller cable and web sites are the ones creating the Big Ideas. The big network formulas are not as effective as they once were, and they're now looking to the smaller, more nimble emerging creative teams to produce their new original shows.
Brands that want to move beyond the standard pitch, generally nothing more than an agency history lesson, should look to companies like ours who push the limit beyond – and often well out of – your comfort zone.
Your customers more than likely left your comfort zone sometime ago, and it’s time for you to catch up.
July 24, 2008
Well, as you are probably about to discover, at least for me.
I have always found blogs interesting to some degree; sometimes informative, sometimes funny, sometimes just out-and-out disturbing, but I never really thought I'd find myself writing my own.
B.L. Ochman of FrugalMarketing.com explains that "Commenting intelligently on blogs, even if you don't have a blog of your own, can be a very good way to build a reputation as an expert in a field." and I guess it's working. Already I see him as one to some degree, after having searched for tips on writing your own blog, here I am following his advice and even quoting him no less.
So here goes, todays intelligent-comment-in-an-attempt-to-be-seen-as-an expert-in-something:
"I believe the rejection of industrialized England by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in an attempt to recapture the style popular prior to the mechanistic approach used by Mannerist artists resulted in the first true avant-garde movement in art history."
And I truly believe that.
Another gem from my new B.F.F. B.L. is that "Most people use news feeders like Feed Demon to scan blog headlines. They decide after seeing the headline to click into the post. Tell as much of the story as you can in the headline." Ok, so this is where I apologize to any of the folks out there desperately searching for blogs on arse-sucking. This entry has got to be disappointing. On the upside though, it only took Google 0.28 seconds to find around 733,000 results for arse-sucking (curiously, a number of them featured the words "Ebony Lady" in their preview lines) and only 0.27 to find about 247,000 references to arse-sucking blogs.
Good to know this was just a minor, fleeting distraction.
I guess the secret of creating a good blog is having something to say. Not something poignant, or even relevant, just something. And I don't really think I have anything, at least for now.
One thing that seems to be consistently mentioned in all the blog tips sites I perused was to keep your blog entries concise. And with that, I bring to a close my very first entry.
I can't keep my Ebony Lady waiting any longer.
July 14, 2008
Ad networks are still red hot. It's clear that finding a way to get at aggregated niches, kind of an oxymoron but still very real, is an idea whose time has come. For the first time, growth is faster in display advertising outside of the big four portals. But what value does the aggregator bring to the ad network beyond just sales force?