Monday, March 10, 2008

Creative Advertising

I had a number of comments about my last post. People thought I was saying that advertising did not deliver a competitive advantage.

Let me state clearly – creative, targeted advertising is a competitive advantage. My point was that social networking might be a more efficient way to spend at least part of the advertising dollar.

Taking your own web site to a higher level by introducing a social context is something that aggregates value directly to your business. How you go about that still needs that very high level of creativity that the advertising industry has always delivered. In fact leaving social applications to a bunch of software developers is probably not the right method to getting a return on social networking.

Think of social networking as an integral part of your advertising program. Think about how social can take advertising to the next level. It is not just putting an ad on TV, a newspaper and a web page. It is about how to really engage your current customers, how to get them to involve their friends or colleagues. It really enables a whole new generation of advertising.

Look at www.jeep.com or www.babycenter.com for ideas on what to do to get people more involved and think about how you could take your advertising spend to a whole new level and target market – your customers and their social network. Look at the tools and games. And take it to the next level even.

As an example, look at the baby naming application at babycenter. This could become "social" by extending it to invite friends to vote on potential names. And imagine if that could be done on the babycenter website as well as and on Facebook and other large social networks. That would be creative advertising by J&J!

2 comments:

g3rman0 said...

Couldn't agree more regarding the competitive advantage to be had by the efficient use of creative, targeted advertising. We've all seen what happens when good creative goes viral. It takes on a life of it's own and almost magically crosses the ever-fuzzier boundary between content and advertising.

As a side note, it's interesting to wonder if coupling excellent creative with more socialized experiences might increase the viral potential of the ad experience? I would have to guess yes. I would also guess that there's probably already a study available on that very topic. If not, I'll let ringside take the initiative. ;)

Those of us in the online video space have seen the growing trend towards extensively branding richer experiences online - I'm primarily thinking about the video players and player portals. Formats like curtain ads, video player skinning, and interactive video overlays are the talk of the market at the moment. One might think of branding (or sponsoring) community experiences (like the idea you mention for J&J and babycenter) as a movement in a similar direction with one major difference... The potential for sharing (and therefore brand exposure) is innately built into that social application as opposed to video's model of relying a viewer to proactively "share this content."

While it all sounds great and tremendously compelling, the biggest problem to be faced by these new (and albeit) exciting forms of advertising will not be coming up with the ideas, nor will it be inventing the technology to create them. It will be enabling the business to track, monitor, and sell them.

One of the biggest issues facing some of the most dynamic forms of online advertising and ad placement is not coming up with cool new ideas of how to integrate the brand, it's how to come up with the rate card that enables publishers and advertisers to come to terms on how metrics are tallied and how the revenue and inventory are split. Every online publisher, advertiser, and agency I have ever spoken to drools when you mention inventive new ideas of how you can: dramatically increase their inventory, exponentially increase brand exposure, and integrate ad messaging in subtle aspects of just about every corner of the user experience. However, when they have to come to grips with actually selling it - actually monetizing the inventory in a such a way that all parties agree - they can never come up with a workable model. Instead, people revert back to what they know - clicks and impressions. As a colleague of mine once said, "Everyone wants to be thinking out-of-the-box, but once they get out, they get scared and run right back in." Regardless of the difficulties it's all still happening, but not without a lot of pushing by the vendors and pulling by the users.

So that's basically the question -- What does the social capability do to the rate model? Obviously it would be based around interaction and exposure, but I was wondering if you had given that piece any thought?

Bob Bickel said...

Good point on the ad buying/selling model. We see one of the simple models being for a company to "pay itself" in the form of making their own web sites more engaging and viral and hooking into the big social networks in a viral manner - without paying advertising rates.

However, we see a number of use cases where there is advertising involved. We had one interesting suggestions of enabing a success-based model of advertising via social networking. The basic idea is that the referring site gets paid if that viral connection results in a sale at some point in time. Take Polyvore.com as an example - if someone buys a dress that was on that site as part of a referral, then Polyvore might get a cut of the success-based sale.

One of the things web sites will be able to do with teh Ringside platform is track where friends and recommendations come from - thus providing the basics for people to come up with new models.

Bob Bickel