"Managing the interactive shift" was the extremely engaged presentation I co-presented at the SNAP conference last week along with Glenn Cook, American School Board Journal’s editor-in-chief and publishing director. The session was Glenn's idea. I showed up with my typical "too many" slide PowerPoint, but following Glenn's advice I put them aside, and together we talked through a wide variety of issues to an audience that could not seem to stop asking questions. It was a great session! The official conference report showed just how diverse the dialog was.
Folio reported on the "spirited debate" I had with my co-presenter over the issue of paid content. Glenn was for it. With my current Folio article, "Four Ways to Avoid Paid Content Suicide" fresh in mind, I advised against. Instead, suggesting an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" alternative; encouraging publishers to become content aggregators themselves, and go on to win the "search" wars for profit.
I was most heartened when well known industry pundit and blogger Rex Hammock Tweeted from the audience, "Josh Gordon talking about digital magazines in the most coherent, logical and convincing way I've heard."
With all the challenges I faced working on the Digital Magazine Ad Engagement project it was nice to hear.
If you are selling any kind of newsletters, if your website has a basic news design, or if you are sponsoring any webcasts that have a news or current affairs focus, here is a great factoid to share with your advertisers to reinforce the value of what you sell.
In just the past few months the number of Americans who pick the Internet as their top choice for National and International news had almost doubled, enabling the Internet to surpass Newspapers as the second most preferred news media. With young people Internet sources are almost tied with the top choice, television.
Although Pew does not mention this, it would be hard to imagine that the recent National elections may have helped focus people on where they really prefer to get news.
From the study:
Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the Internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the Internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%.
For young people, however, the Internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news on line; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the Internet (68% vs. 34%).
On a call.
Share this as passing a benchmark, which it is. "Hey did you hear that the number of people who use the Internet as their top source for news almost doubled in the past five months? Internet news sources, for the first time ever, passed newspapers and are only behind television. Glad you are running ads in our online news product? See? You are keeping up with the times!"
Download the report to take on a call:
The "Internet advertising as direct mail" model, with click throughs the only meaningful metric, has been dealt a blow. This is great news for content publishers, whose advertising sell is based more on relevance and engagement, and less on delivering boat loads of click troughs.
As I have said many times on this blog, if you are staking your continued online media sales on delivering click thoughs alone you are toast. For online media buyers, there is always a cheaper way to get more click throughs. But media relevancy is making a comeback. The driver? Social media that engages more and more visitors while giving them the power to block advertising.
According to recent post on the Harvard Business Review:
"Early in the Internet era, it looked as if successful online marketing would follow the model of direct marketing. Data profiling and digital media would allow for deeper targeting and more intrusion into consumers’ lives than broadcast marketing. At last, it seemed, marketing would become a branch of social engineering with the marketer firmly in control. Ten years later that view looks to have been quite wrong. What we did not anticipate was that the technology that enabled intrusion would also enable defense against intrusion. From Tivo to Caller ID to social media, consumers have found ways to keep the invaders at bay. Marketers no longer rule the market. They are invited guests. If they are provocative, pertinent and entertaining they get to stay. If they are overbearing there are ways to shut them out."
The article goes on the give a terrific example of how this approach is being used to sell soap. Yup, Dove soap!
"But some brands are cracking the code of social media and discovering how to thrive in the disenchanted environment of Web 2.0. Consider Unilever’s Dove, which has added $1.2 billion to its brand value over the past three years...
The principle made plain by Dove’s success is that in social networks brands must seek to provoke conversation not to dominate it. The locus of control in the marketplace shifts from marketer to consumer, and success is built on a model of co-created meaning. In Web 2.0, marketers accept that it is enough to rouse, to stimulate, to stir.
Dove's strategy was to move away from functional claims and to present itself as a brand with a point of view. It advocated that the beauty industry was contributing to the destruction of self-esteem in girls and young women by propagating unrealistic standards. With its Self-Esteem Fund and The Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove placed itself at odds with its competitors. Consumers loved the conflict. They lit up the digital media, generating millions of pass-along clips for YouTube, clips like Evolution and Hates Her Freckles."
See the Dove campaign website: http://www.dove.us/#/cfrb/
A digital ad agency representing a Fortune 500 corporation sends you an RFP for a two week online campaign. You respond professionally and promptly. Like a shock, word comes back, they are in! The news travels through your organization like wild fire, "We just broke into a Fortune 500 Corporation's digital ad budget!" As dozens of congratulatory e-mails surge through your company the future looks bright. The media runs. The media stops running. There is no follow up RFP. You can't get the media buyer on the phone and she does not respond to your emails. When you finally hear back, the response is one sentence apologizing for the delay in getting back and a mention that your media will not be considered for the future of the campaign. Ouch! What happened?
Here is how someone at the digital agency described the same process:
"We had a three month campaign to buy media for. In the first two weeks we ran three different versions of the creative in several size configurations. We ran ads in a wide range of websites to test the response.
We ran the two week test, then optimized the buy.
Of the three creative treatments, the one offering a free download performed best. Of the three ad sizes the leader board size performed best. We tried 30 different websites and found that eleven performed best so we continued with them and dropped the rest."
On your next call.
Don’t be discouraged by this process. On the surface it may look like media evaluation is out of your control. Not true. While results rule the day, PEOPLE still evaluate the results. Your job is to help your buyer understand why a response from your unique visitor is more valuable, or at least different, from any other. When your respond to an online RFP make sure the buyer understands what kind of response they can expect from your media AND why that response is important for the campaign. Do this at the time of the sale, not later. Selling media is still selling. To be successful, you need to sell the unique value of your visitor and his or her response BEFORE it runs.
As more marketers see their website as the hub of their marketing efforts, reviewing that site before calling on them becomes essential. But you are not an expert on their business. What can you actually speak credibly about that a client will listen to?
Simple. Talk about your readers, their site visitors. Look carefully at their home page and think about your magazine/brand's readers and how they would respond.
Never criticize your client’s website. The marketing manager you are calling on could be it's architect. But if you can engage your client in a dialog about trends effecting your readers and advocate prioritizing future content you can help advance their online marketing goals.
The sad truth is that many websites are not constructed with a company’s customers, your readers, in mind. Many websites first fulfill internal political goals, or are designed against the claims of competitors. Primary reader benefits can take a back seat. If you discover this sharing your readers point of view, in noncritical way by talking about future content, can make you a marketing hero.
At the recent "Selling Online Subscriptions" conference put on by MarketingSherpa, Linda Ragano, from ThomasNet shared this a piece of research that documented a disconnect between what manufacturers posted on their websites, versus what the targeted buyers actually wanted to see.
On a call.
If you sense this kind of disconnect on your client's site use Linda's slide as a third party example to make the point in a noncritical way. Say, "In some industries (read: not yours) there is disconnect between what readers/visitors want to see on a web site and what gets posted. Show the chart. Then share insights you have about your readers/their site visitors might like to see in the future. Focusing on the future is a good way to share your knowledge without being critical of the present. Your client can then go to management and say, "Look what we can do to improve things in the future." Both you and your client become marketing heros.
Denise Shiffman’s new book "Age of Engage" is insightful, illuminating, and potentially terrifying for media sales people. Shiffman lays bare what the marketers we sell our ads to will be expecting in the next 10 years and sees a future requiring different skill sets and media products. In this world media consumers demand total engagement and control over the content we now dispense at our discretion.
Although she offers little specific advice on transforming our current products into Web 2.0 versions she clearly describes what expectations of all Web products and services must be. Here is a handy chart from the book describing expectations of the old vs. new Web:
According to Denise:
"The original, static Web drew millions of companies online to offer information about their products, and to sell their wares. The second coming of the Web has transformed the online marketplace into an interactive, personal, and communal space. Consumers have been transformed from passive viewers and choosers to active and powerful beacons collectively creating winners and losers. Breaking through the clutter of voices in this new marketplace is an audacious challenge for any marketer. E-mail, viral, search, social, widgets, avatars, authenticity,and story make up the new language. New media, tools, and technologies have to be mastered to remain in the game. In this reinvention
of marketing, it is the fast, the unique, the innovative and creative, the socially connected, and most importantly, those who engage their audience that will win."
How well will your next media products engage your community? Your future could depend on it.
It is happening right now in many many industries and sectors. Web only competitors, "pure play" online publishers, are sneaking in and winning ad sales away from the online products of print publishers. How can they do this? Don’t we have an insurmountable advantage by having a print product continually advancing our brand in the physical world? How do the pure play Internet companies even stand a chance?
"Pure plays" routinely beat the products of print based publishers because they design a new newsletter, webinar, web section, or website, by starting with a clean sheet of paper. Since they have no print vehicle to get them started the "pure plays" design a media product desperate for attention. Every click through they get has is funneled from somewhere else so there has to be an amazingly good reason for a visit. This “clean sheet of paper” approach results in a high emphasis on focus and functionality. It takes an extremely sharp content focus to stand out against the millions of online destinations and when a visitor arrives there must be a high functionality that keeps visitors coming back.
Print people are spoiled. Too often when a magazine launches a web product the editorial focus the same or similar to the positioning as the print product. As for functionality, too often the mission statement is, “To extend the magazine brand onto to the Internet.” Big mistake. Your website needs its own editorial focus, and mission. While it should compliment your print product it cannot just extend it.
To compete, pretend your print product does not exist, then ask, "Given all online destinations and content on the web, why should anyone visit my website?" To beat the pure play publishers, you have to think like one. You too have to start with that clean sheet of paper and work your way forward.
It has been widely publicized how Obama has used the Internet to gain advantage both in raising money and awareness in his pursuit of the Democratic Presidential nomination. The numbers speak for themselves; according to the Washington Post, Obama raised $91 million online in January and February of 2008 versus only $37 million raised by Clinton. How did he do it?
Obama out spent Clinton in online media and did so by paying far less on traditional media advice. Here is the spend from January to March 2008 for both candidates:
Spending Category Barack Obama Hillary Clinton
Google $1,000,000 $67,000
Yahoo Web Ads $99,341 $9,186
Yahoo Search Ads $58,000 $0
Facebook $4,900 $0
Web Consultants $93,162 $0
Ad Consultant n/a $997,000
Media Consultant n/a $2,540,000
Obama spent far more on the web media itself and hired a relatively inexpensive web consultant. Clinton spent far more on traditional ad and media consultants. On these reported media expenses Clinton out spent Obama 3 to 1, but Obama's online presence has performed far better.
Hey, this online stuff seems to work!