Friday, November 13, 2009

Ad Accountability for Print Media?

Magazines borrow page from online media as page shakeout continues. Facebook as crime solving tool. Google acquisition should jumpstart mobile advertising category.

We’re not sure whether to put this under the “innovation” or “desperation” column, but Monday, The Week magazine announced is was guaranteeing advertisers that their ads will generate higher “recall” scores in The Week than they will in most other magazines in which they run. How? The Week has enlisted the help of Vista from Affinity, who will measure ad recall based on how consumers in its focus groups remember seeing a certain ad in the magazines where it runs. The Week guarantees an ad will score in the top one-third of all magazines where it runs or The Week will run free ad pages for the advertiser until it gets to the benchmark. The program is only reserved for regular 12x advertisers, but Steven Kotok, president of The Week, expected 80 percent of its clients to qualify. We salute The Week’s efforts to bring more accountability to the beleaguered print category and expect many more publishers to follow suit in 2010.

Ad pages drop sharply at Conde Nast

You don’t need the geniuses from McKinsey & Company to tell you it’s a lousy year for print media. Make that a lousy decade. Just days after Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. announced that Metropolitan Home will be shuttered with its December issue (see below), Conde Nast announced this week that its 2009 pages are in, and it won’t be the merriest of office Christmas Parties high above Times Square for those who remain employed there. Ad pages are down by one-third for the year as more than 8,400 pages evaporated from it normally luxurious ledger. The company closed popular titles Portfolio, Gourmet and Modern Bride as well as Cookie and Elegant Bride and survivors who depend on purveyors of luxury goods took significant hits: Architectural Digest lost half (49.9%) of its ad pages; W lost 46 percent and Conde Nast Traveler lost 41 percent according to company data released to the media. On average, ad pages fell 27.6 percent industry wide for the first nine months of 2009 according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Branding will take you only so far in tough time and once again, print advertising becomes a luxury, not a core necessity, when times are tough and you can’t measure its direct effectiveness to pull customers into your stores.

Obituary announced for MetHome

Another acclaimed aspirational consumer magazine will cease publication in December. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. announced that Metropolitan Home will be shuttered with its December issue, citing a lousy housing market and cuts in discretionary income for home renovations. Ad pages were down nearly 36 percent year-over-year, about the same as Gourmet’s, another popular magazine shuttered last month by Conde Nast. No plans announced about Met Home’s Web site. This recession has been particular unkind to the shelter magazine category and has forced the closing of House & Garden, Domino, Southern Accents, Cottage Living, In Style, O at Home and Country Home.

Facebook saves accused from perp walk

With more and more people revealing details of their private lives online – from the banal to the shocking – a potentially useful but unintended application of popular social network sites like Facebook, MySpaceand Twitter may be emerging. Crime-solving. A NYC teen, Rodney Bradford posted a seemingly meaningless post on Oct. 17 at 11:49 a.m. asking where his pancakes were. One of millions of banal, time-wasting posts that day until Bradford, 19, was arrested the next day as a suspect in an armed robbery at the housing project where he lives. Those words became his alibi. The entry, made at approximately the same time as the robbery. The New York District Attorney subpoenaed Facebook to verify that Bradford’s words had been typed from a computer at the apartment where he lives with his father. When that was confirmed, the charges were dropped. While social networking sites has been used as prosecutorial evidence in cases ranging from cyber-bullying to armed robbery and murder, legal experts believe it’s the first time such sites have been used as alibi evidence. Because of how ubiquitous social networking sites have become, we expect them to have a role in increasingly more cases as their user demographics tend to mirror the prime ages of those committing violent crimes, teens and young adults.
Social Media Update

Tweeting your company to the top of the search results

According to Internet Marketing Report (IMR), doing more with Twitter could help your company reach prospects who don’t actively “tweet” or even know what that means. IMR says all the search engines plan to include Twitter updates in their search results. Google plans to add tweets in its search result that may gain from real-time observations. The Bing search engine is planning to add posts from Twitter and Facebook.

Measuring success of marketing campaigns:
• 77% of marketers say new customers acquired
• 73% say the number of new leads
• 67% say net increase in sales
• 29% say increase in purchase intent
• 22% say increase in purchase intent
• 21% say changes in “perceptual attributes”
Source:, October 2009 study

Blogs, e-mail and Web site optimization most economical sources of leads. But watch PPC.
New research from finds online channels deliver qualified sales leads for significantly less money than telemarketing, trade shows and direct mail. While Blogs, e-mail and Web site optimization (SEO) scored high on “relative cost per lead”, what caught our attention was that one third (32%) of marketers surveyed by Hubspot said pay-per-click (PPC) was also a relatively expensive way to acquire leads. More on that in future issues.

Relative cost per lead by channel
% of marketers who said “below average cost”

Blogs/social media *****************55%
E-mail marketing**************49%
Direct Mail *********34%
Telemarketing **29%
Trade Shows**18


So what’s up with the stock market? The economy can’t get out of first gear. Unemployment’s at the highest level in 27 years. The dollar’s sinking like a stone and the stock market keeps going up. At last glance, The Dow closed the week at nearly 10,200, up more than 16 percent for the year and the S&P closed over 1,100, up more than 20 percent for the year.

Oddly, the same problem that worries many investors over the longer term is what encourages some for the short term: a soft economy. The reason is that an ailing economy requires the Federal Reserve to keep its short-term interest-rate targets near zero and continue pumping billions of dollars into the financial system. That is great for stocks because much of that money eventually finds its way into financial markets, and because cheap money keeps financing costs low and pushes corporate profits higher. Worries about whether government intervention would be enough to keep the economy growing have been one of the reasons behind the series of volatile up and down swings in late October and early November.
*** For a great take on the “Jobless Recovery” check out University of Chicago professor, Casey Mulligan’s blog on Economix.

Google acquisition of startup could jumpstart mobile ad category

Monday Google announced it has agreed to acquire mobile advertising startup AdMob for $750 million in stock. AdMob, whose clients include P&G, Adidas and Land Rover, is a leading seller of banner ads on iPhone apps and Web pages that can be retrieved from mobile phones. This deal will probably cement the viability of the much hyped mobile advertising business….still in its nascent stages at $160 million (source: Kelsey Group), less than one percent of the $23 billion in online ads in 2008 according to Internet Advertising Bureau.

While most of the mobile ads so far have been delivered by text message. Experts point to the growing popularity of the iPhone and other popular mobile devices, the ads will become more engaging and widespread. Analysts say Google already has an edge on its rivals Microsoft and Yahoo when it comes to ads linked to search queries via mobile. Expect Microsoft and Yahoo to look for deals with other mobile ad providers like JumpTap, Millenial Media and Quattro Wireless.

For advertising to work as we head into the second decade of the new millennium, it’s got to be measurable and prove it works. That said, the burden for accountability is a two way street. Publishers and Web site operators have to work more closely with their media partners to understand their marketing objectives, not meet monthly page or banner inventory quotas. On the flip side, marketers and their agencies need to do a better job of understanding their media partners’ audience, editorial tone and pulse. E-mailing generic spreadsheets or RFPs to media partners with 24 hours’ notice to get them done is not how great advertising or marketing gets done. And when it comes time to reconcile the success or failure of a campaign, both sides need real metrics, not self-serving “ad recall” surveys or click-based McMetrics to show ROI.

Let’s be a lot smarter, less greedy and more patient next decade.

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