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April 15, 2008

Power Panel: Follow the Money — The Buyers Weigh In

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Moderator Jon Fine (Businessweek) and his panelists are ready to go with today’s first non-keynote panel and so am I. Note I just say panelists. None of the speakers are as listed in the program and I can’t really read their name tags. I’ll try to get their names as we go. Hmm. No time to be witty, let’s just get started.

Jon gets us started by noting two truisms. There’s too much money and not enough. He says he represents the old way since he writes for a proper magazine.

Andrea Kerr-Redniss says you don’t necessarily need to do advertising to brand yourself online.

Crest Whitestrips are a good example of building brand. They did their brand building online, both advertising and community building. No one medium should be forced to carry the burden of brand building alone. Multi-channel brand building is the way to go. [Why are you trying to make us rank for “brand building?” – Lisa]

Jon: Say what you will about TV advertising, it’s a known quantity. Social networks haven’t taken off as ad platforms, why not?

Greg Smith: Because they’re not advertising platforms. Just because something has a big audience doesn’t mean that it’s good for advertising. Social networking is a manifestation of how people are interacting. What lies beyond advertising? Do you always have to come at this through advertising? Hulu is great at answering the promise of television, low clutter, high fulfillment. Social media can be marketing but not as an ad platform.

Scott: We just did a Facebook ad and it was far and away the most effective part of the campaign.

Andrea: It’s about building a promise. [A brand building promise? Sorry. – Lisa]

Jon: Andrea, in your opinion, will premium placements always have a premium CPM?

Andrea: Yes, I think they will but it might not be the same CPM as now. It’ll get more segmented and understood.

Scott: Car sites get better CPM than TV.

Greg: Don’t try to get people to pull away from high involvement content. That’s a good branding environment though.

Jon: How do you work search into the equation?

Greg: The marketplace dictates the CPM. There’s what they want us to pay and what we’re willing to pay. It varies based on what we’re trying to target. [He’s doing most of the talking on this panel.]

Scott: Right now the big players aren’t really into online marketing yet. They’re only 2-3% online at the moment.

Question & Answer

What’s unexplored about search ads and what’s overrated?

Mohan: In the search world, one of the areas of promise is mobile search. In my case, I use mobile search on a day basis. It has been ‘the year of mobile’ every year for the last 10 years. But it doesn’t require a broadband connection, it can be done through text. How do you target that appropriately?

Andrea: I think it’s integral the way people are building and selling products. People aren’t integrating search into our campaigns as much as we should, as a response vehicle, as a branding perspective. It needs to be holistic. Yahoo and Special K were a good example of holistic usage. You can judge the effectiveness of a TV ad based on the resulting search volume on those terms/people involved. You need to connect with people in all stages of the buying cycle. Not everyone is going to buy a car everyday.

Greg: Google TV helps buyers understand things. It’s a Dish Network partnership of 5 million homes. You can buy television spots the way you buy anything else, bid management and you can focus very nicely. Find out which programs are best. For example, a rerun of Friends is good for direct response because people are willing to be distracted. [Zing! – Lisa] We want to know why are people tuning out?

Andrea: it’s good for learning but it’s not going to replace anything.

Scott: I think what’s not working in search is a maturation beyond ‘last click wins’. Even in the search world, that’s not really what’s going on. We need more granular data.

Jon: Do you have any concerns that digital measurement is flawed?

Scott: Yeah you can look at the wrong thing but if you go back to the macro level, you’ll be doing better. If you don’t think something works, step back and figure it out.

Andrea says that all media is becoming digital. There’s not anything that’s not going to be part digital in the future and you can’t hold yourself aloof from that.

Scott says you can either try to reach 2 percent of the audience through TV or you can go into a targeted online space and reach a much bigger portion of the audience online. Let the Web do your targeting for you.

Right now Facebook is working but it might just be a honeymoon period since it’s not saturated yet. The exciting part of social networks is that people can opt in to the stuff that they do and don’t want to see. Scott says he’ll never buy a Ford Ranger no matter how many ads they show him so it would be good if he could say ‘hey, stop spending money on me.’

Greg says that search doesn’t work as well if it’s all you’re doing. Build a halo and awareness around it. Don’t let people tell you that you need a certain amount to play in television, don’t let minimum budget myths scare you.

Do you guys worry about losing customers as they learn to do their own buying?

Greg: Everyone’s getting into our space. We are your agents. You hire us because you can’t be bothered. Any agency is going to be better experienced just by virtue of having more clients than one. Agencies need to keep up with the models.

Andrea: If you can find enough people to hire to staff your own agency, good luck. It’s really a lack of talent out there.

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