Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How B2B Marketers Can Leverage the Talent Society

Best length for online video ads and economic conditions on upswing

While David Brooks’ insightful op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY Times was not intended for B2B marketers, he hit on a number of important trends that will undoubtedly change the way connect with your target customers, clients and evangelists.

Both individuals and workers want more space to develop their individual talents, Brooks observed and they want “more flexibility to explore their own interests and develop their own identities, lifestyles and capacities. They are more impatient with situations that they find stifling.”

Over the past half century Brooks believes we have gone from a society that protected people from their frailties to a society that allows people to maximize their talents. “Today, the fast flexible and diverse networks allow the ambitious and the gifted to surf through amazing possibilities. They are able to construct richer, more varied lives. They are able to enjoy interesting information-age workplaces,” he writes.

Bottom line: People with skills can really thrive in this tenuous, networked society, said Brooks as they can develop and nurture their individual brands. But people without those advantages would be better with our traditional command and control, corporate hierarchical structure that stifled individualism and creativity but rewarded employee loyalty.

Our Take: Smart marketers have learned that you can build long-lasting and rewarding relationships with key customers that span multiple decades and multiple job changes. Being honest, creative and delivering on what you promise is what customers remember about you—not what price you quoted them or how many lunches or golf outings you treated them to.

What is the best length for my video ads?

If you’re trying to take advantage of the surge in online video advertising, be smart and think short. That’s the advice from Poll Position whose recent survey of 1,179 adults concluded that 15 seconds is how long 54 percent of respondents say is acceptable before they get turned off. Only 12 percent of Internet users said viewing a 30-second ad prior to viewing free content was acceptable to them and only 7 percent were willing to view ads of 45 seconds or longer.

Macro view

While there’s no telling what the impact on corporate profits will be if the President gets his new corporate tax planned passed, the Dow is hovering at the 13,000 point level—an altitude not seen since May of 2008. And, the S&P 500 index is approaching the cheapest level ever compared with bonds thanks to the Fed’s zero-percent interest rates. While the Euro zone debt crisis can’t be ignored, U.S. capital markets seem reasonably confident the Greek bailout plan will eventually stick. What’s more, things seem much better at home as long as you ignore the housing market. More than 240,000 real jobs were created in January and we now have the lowest unemployment rate since early 2009. Corporate balance sheets are stuffed with cash. With interest rates likely to remain low for the near future, companies should be poised to continue hiring cautiously and investing in capital equipment and IT infrastructure which bodes well for those of you in the B2B space.

Take a break from the news once in a while. Things are better than you think. Don’t let this rare opportunity to invest, hire and connect with new customers pass you by. It may not be this cheap for years to come.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Economy, Online Video and Mobile Continue to Roll

Key takeaways for B2B marketers

First, more good news from the macro-economic front. Initial claims for jobless benefits fell to its lowest level since April 2008 according to the Labor Department and the stock markets, particularly the Dow are near their four-year highs. More importantly to us, nearly three-fourths of S&P 500 stocks are trading above their 26-week moving average, according to Thomson Reuters data. Housing starts increased more than expected according to new data that came out today and investors seem cautiously optimistic that the Greek debt crisis in the Euro zone will slowly, but surely resolve itself without taking the rest of the world down with it.

Oh, one more thing that encouraged us. Voters aren’t likely to give our elected officials too much of the credit for improving economic conditions. A new Gallup survey released yesterday found that 86 percent of Americans DO NOT approve of the job that Congress is doing. We call that “rational” exuberance.

Online video ads perform better when socially recommended

New research from Unruly Media shows that viewers’ engage more successfully with ads if they come via recommendation rather than serendipity. Enjoyment of video advertising content increases 14 percent if the video is recommended by a trusted friend or colleague and boosts brand recall by 7 percent if recommended, rather than simply found by browsing.

Does video enjoyment really impact sales? Well, researchers say video enjoyment increases purchase intent by a whopping 97 percent and brand association by nearly 140 percent.

Viewers tolerate more video ads as content quality improves

According to video ad serving provider FreeWheel, digital video is increasingly being monetized like traditional broadcast TV as viewers accept an increased number of ads in exchange for better content. Ad loads are increasing most in long-form content -- i.e., 20 minutes or more. There are now nearly seven video ads per long-form video, more than double the ad load from early 2011.

OUR TAKE: B2B marketers take note. This trend toward high quality video engagement bodes very well for those of you contemplating video versions of your white papers.

From the Q1 through Q4 of 2011, video viewing grew 47 percent, while ad viewing grew 49 percent, said JoAnna Foyle Abel, FreeWheel's vice president of marketing in a statement. However, the ratio between the two narrowed dramatically between the third quarter and the fourth. By the fourth quarter, 75 percent of all digital video content had a video ad associated with it, while in the first quarter, just over half of the content had video ads placed in it.

“This trend shows that producers of professional digital video content are now using advertising to monetize the majority of the content they place into the market,” according to Foyle Abel.

Also, the mid-roll video ad placement showed the most dramatic growth in 2011. FreeWheel attributes this to a rise in mid-form content (5-20 minutes in length) and long-form content being made available online, more mid-roll ad pods being created within that content; and more video ads per pod being added. The Apple iPad continues to be an influential device for video viewing.

Mobile ad spending to grow 30 percent in 2012

Mobile advertising and marketing is expected to grow at 3.5 times the rate of the overall communications industry over the next five years, according to research firm PQ Media, including a 30 percent surge in 2012. Mobile marketing and advertising itself has grown eight-fold, while mobile content and access has tripled said PQ media.

Among the challenges PQ Media’s Patrick Quinn points to are device/network fragmentation, the difficulty to buy mobile inventory at scale, and still relatively low penetration on new devices like tablets. Smartphone penetration has also been slowed by high access fees.

Our Take: If that’s where the eyeballs are then that’s where the money is. And, if that’s where the money is, that’s what will finance any tech fixes need to harvest those opportunities.