Saturday, April 4, 2009

April Article - enewsletters to watch!

Every morning my inbox greets me with ”enewsletters” on the opportunities in corporate merchandise from China, invitations to global telecommunications conferences in India and other essential information that I am warned to ignore at my peril. There is no point trying to unsubscribe. Once these spammers find you, you are in for a life term. They give the whole email business a bad name. It’s a shame because some newsletters are worth subscribing to. In our industry there are two types of newsletter; the ones that tell you what is happening such as the Adnews and Media Day newsletters, and the ones that deliver insights and current thinking. The second type is arguably more valuable to our businesses however they are also harder to find. Here are a few you might like to take a look at:

Madison + Vine (

This newsletter and site provides a weekly commentary on developments around advertising sponsored programming, product placement and engagement marketing. While entirely US focused, this is the market that is leading the way. If you are really enthusiastic you can attend the annual conference.

Ipsos (

Ipsos is one of the world’s largest survey and research companies and specialise in media and consumer behaviour analysis. The online knowledge centre contains an enormous amount of information, case studies and charts that illustrate changing media behaviours and trends. Registration and detailed report summaries are free. The US site is better than the Australian version.

Molecular (

Do you feel like you are just starting to understand Web 2.0 and everyone else is talking Web 3.0? This is the quarterly newsletter and site for you. Molecular is one of the leading digital strategy and web building firms in the USA. There is a blog, whitepapers and webinars for everyone including the super geeks among us. You can even follow them on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and You Tube.

Mashable (

Are you having trouble understanding the point of Twitter? Do you have less than 50 friends on Facebook and starting to worry? Worry no more! This weekly newsletter and site is designed to help you make sense of social media. The site also has a news channel on the iPhone and discusses topics such as the likely future of mobile video. The content is more news, discussion and opinion than research however the commentary is moderated by experienced social media consultants.

Clickz (

The Clickz site and newsletter is the true veteran of digital media coverage and an essential for your inbox. The writers have lived through both dotcom booms and it shows in the quality of advice and commentary. There are expert writers within key subject areas such as ROI marketing and paid search strategies that can be difficult to source elsewhere.

Send Up a Larger Room (

While more a blog than a newsletter, this site is authored by Moensie Rossier, who is currently the lead strategist for Carat Sydney. With several years of posting and significant commendation from its peers for outstanding original content, the blog explores consumer behaviour and how we interact with each other and our environments. The posts can occasionally be esoteric and abstract, however the journey is fascinating.

The fact that these sites and their newsletters exist is reassurance that there is genuine quality to be found in your inbox when you log on in the morning.


March article on how to trade media in recessions - Adnews

John F. Kennedy famously said, “In a crisis, beware the danger, but recognize the opportunities.” I suspect he wasn’t talking about a slowdown in the Australian advertising market. More to the point I am not sure the billings slump in Australia qualifies as a crisis. Our relatively flat advertising market compares favorably to Spain, Japan, Northern Europe and even New Zealand who are facing advertising reductions of up to 30% across the board.

It is inevitable however that global advertisers, particularly those headquartered in markets hit hard by the financial crisis, will cut or hold budgets in 2009. As advertising and media professionals we have a few choices. We can pretend the whole advertising slowdown is not happening and be outraged when our clients or managers cut our budgets – the classic Ostrich in the sand maneuver. Alternatively, we can call our clients every week and tell them that there is no slow down and now is the time to spend more – the Kevin Rudd maneuver.  For many clients, both tactics are useless and will damage the agency/client relationship in the long term. If auto manufacturers are having periodic stoppages, and retailers are laying off staff, they have a moral imperative to be more efficient with their advertising and media spend. The question is, what opportunities can we seize in the current market to deliver the same or more impact more efficiently. Here are a few suggestions:

1.       Stay close to media owners.

Media owners are currently under more pressure than most clients. Not only will they understand your need to be more efficient, the best media executives will offer significant incentives for an open and constructive conversation where both parties can see an upside.


2.       Consider pre-paying media

Deep discounts are possible where advertisers help media owners manage their cash flow and monthly targets. Partial or full pre-payment reduces the risk for media sales teams, and also gives them flexibility with revenue and budget reporting.


3.       Be where your customers are

If your advertising plans and execution have been the same for 3 years or more, the chances are that your customer base has shifted and your media spend is inefficient.  Now may be the time look at a deeper involvement with digital media, subscription TV or mobile. The only caveat is that entering these media should be more cost efficient (on a cost per exposure or impact basis) than your current media plans. This will vary from client to client.


4.       Ensure your traditional marketing activity and your search marketing activity are planned and measured together

This remains the single biggest sales conversion opportunity in Australian advertising today. Search agencies such as iProspect and Outrider have specialist tools that allow you to track the impact traditional media has on search engine behaviour. This impact can be refined to generate significant increases in product research and purchase.


5.       Demand better reporting and more detailed accountability

Every media spend can be more efficient, better targeted, deliver greater impact or extract better value. Media agencies would agree that clients who continually ask these questions are our most challenging clients. They are also our favourite and most loyal clients. An engaged client attracts an engaged media or advertising agency.

Monday, February 16, 2009

February Article - Mobile Advertising a reality?

I have been losing enthusiasm for mobile marketing as a viable independent channel. A lack of network co-operation combined with no set of standards or consistent industry representation has led to a fragmented market that is missing an enormous opportunity in Australia. At a time when more US users are accessing the Internet via their mobile phone than their PCs, Australian mobile marketers are playing around the edges of marketing campaigns.  Mobile marketing professionals struggle to prove the impact or demonstrate how mobile marketing can change a consumer’s perception of brands in the long term.

All this is set to change if Eyeblaster can successfully convince multiple mobile networks and publishers to adopt its third party adserving technology, now ready for mobile advertising. The company, an independent global ad-serving leader, promises to enable the serving and measurement of mobile advertising in the same way the technology serves advertising on the internet. Mobile campaigns can be integrated and managed as part of the broader digital campaign.

The announcement is an important step and will attract larger budgets for mobile campaigns. Currently, an advertiser deals with separate networks or publishers, or an aggregator like 5th Finger or Communicator, to place advertising onto mobile properties. Each provider has different measurement and reporting techniques and delivers these at different times.  Advertisers managing large campaigns, and requiring real time campaign management, are faced with a host of limitations for mobile campaigns. Eyeblaster’s new 'Channel Connect for Mobile' tool promises to solve these issues.

Mediacom in the US claimed a world first in December 2008, although disputed by others, by successfully using the technology to deliver T-Mobile advertising across the Nokia Media Network. While there were no reports on the success of the campaign, Eyeblaster’s ability to independently measure and provide real time information on the campaign’s progress is exciting. The Internet advertising industry exploded after the development of third party advertising tools in the mid-90s. This same technology shaped advertising standards and thus developed the structure of a successful advertising market.

The initial ‘Channel Connect for Mobile” tool can distribute and manage simple ‘banners’ and graphics. Response behaviour is tracked and reported in real time. Later versions of the software promise to serve richer advertising formats and possibly applications.

Eyeblaster is currently in discussions with multiple publishers and networks. The response has been positive as mobile publishers recognise the revenue and productivity benefits provided.  No formal contracts have been signed in Australia, although several major publishers are close to an agreement. Most digital media agencies already use Eyeblaster for digital rich media campaign management, so the uptake for publishers who choose to accept mobile advertising through Eyeblaster adserving will be rapid and significant.

When you combine reliable third party advertising with smart phone technology and larger screens, such as the iPhone, perhaps it is too early to despair the future of mobile advertising. For an industry that seemed destined to exist for ringtones and 1900 numbers, the future may indeed be rosy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 2009 Adnews Article - The promises of Freeview?

There is every indication that 2009 will the FTA TV’s annus horribilis. A perfect storm of lower revenues, enormous debt burdens and the rising costs of programming are converging with the cost of digital migration and undisclosed new standard definition (SD) channel costs. If this wasn’t enough, the three major commercial networks in particular, face major challenges from non-traditional competitors – even their clients. At a time when strong leadership is required the industry seems unsure how to proceed in the face of so many challenges.

The FTA industry remains tight lipped over its future strategies to cope with the next 2-3 years. The launch of Freeview in November last year promised “television like you’ve never experienced it before” and invited us to “reserve the best seat in the house…and get ready to enjoy an entirely new way to watch the television you love”. So far, only Channel 10 has released any detail on what this new experience might include with the launch of One, a specialised sports channel. Channel 10 should be applauded for its leadership given the tough trading conditions the company is facing. It is understood that the confirmed foundation sponsorships amount to additional revenues of $5-

8 million. While this is unlikely to cover the costs of One, it is a reasonable effort for a channel that is untested and a pricing model that is foreign to the FTA networks and their media agency partners.

Despite questioning the value of these additional channels, and David Gyngell has on numerous occasions, the launch of Freeview has made a set of promises to loyal viewers. To remain silent and still carry the advertising for Freeview may do more damage than good. Subscription TV competitors have been quick to take advantage of the situation by confirming they will launch a further 20 channels in 2009. This is on top of 9 channels launched in 2008. Regardless of what you think of the content on many STV channels, you have to admit that their communication and strategy seems clearer and more viewer centric than their FTA colleagues.

At the heart of the problem is content. Media analyst, Steve Allen of Media Fusion, was right in questioning the existence of more high quality content at a reasonable price that the networks could access for additional SD channels (;  24/12/08). Channel Ten’s resurrection of the 10 year old format of Masterchef is a testament to how difficult and expensive new content is to source, even for FTA’s primary channels. Added to this, there are only a limited number of content genres that attract the advertising revenues required to fund the channels.

Channel 7 appears to be in the best shape for 2009 but it is important to note their high proportion of locally produced content. The relative cost compared to international content sourcing is significant. The network’s ability to increase exposure to these costs for secondary channels is limited. As with Channel 9, Seven is still keeping quiet over its plans under Freeview, with much of their continued effort centering on Tivo.

So where to from here? The networks have increasing costs they cannot avoid, the scope for more staff and budget cuts is limited, the advertising cycle is working against them and there is persistent pressure from competitors and new technologies.

Part of the answer is in harnessing the content initiatives and aspirations of its clients. Major corporations and governments are investigating their ability to produce and distribute content as a way of extending their brand values, key messages or their brand franchise in the minds of their audiences. This has become possible as a result of falling production costs and the ability to distribute content efficiently via broadband. Admittedly, the Australian branded content industry is in its infancy and much of the content produced to date is dreadful, unsophisticated and non-repeatable. There are exceptions however. In 2008, the Victorian Government (TAC) sponsored “Sudden Impact” debuted nationally on Channel Nine winning its timeslot with over a million viewers in primetime. This represents free content for the networks – in fact most companies will pay for distribution. Provided advertisers meet the same quality and selection criteria as other content producers, is there really a problem? There appears to be no system where commercial content of this type can be easily evaluated by the FTA networks. This may be one solution to accessing quality content for secondary channels. The alternative is that clients will find alternate ways to distribute quality content, further eroding the FTA franchise in Australia.

While this may not seem like a threat, consider Nintendo’s announcement to launch its own TV channel and programming through the Wii. It will be available in 40 Million Japanese households this year. Who do you know that has a Wii?

Integrating Search Marketing with Traditional Media - December 2008 article

While it remains unlikely Australia will suffer a sharp or prolonged recession, the media industry has been nervous about slowing volumes for months. If you work for a metropolitan newspaper right now, the market is tough. Weekly magazines are also showing the stress with limited visibility on forward bookings into Christmas. There are some winners in choppy conditions. The search (SEM/SEO) industry is widely touted as a beneficiary of difficult times. However, a new study by global search leader, iProspect, casts doubt on whether a quantum shift into search will yield the best result. The agency actually advocates a complimentary traditional media spend with search to yield the best result.

The result highlights the important knowledge and optimization benefits large search agencies such as Outrider (WPP), Columbus (Mitchells) and iProspect (Aegis) offer over search engines directly. The research also shows a growing maturity within SEM/SEO providers. It is becoming an industry that understands search is a complementary media, not the answer for your entire media spend.

Titled “iProspect Search Engine Marketing Integration Study” (August 2008), the report is a detailed set of findings and recommendations on how to increase SEM/SEO results through a better understanding of consumer and purchase behavior.

The key findings are:

The way in which we optimize our digital assets (video, pictures, press releases etc) does not match the way consumers search for a click on results.

Few companies optimize search around press releases for example, even though these appear as “news” within search results. This is an important technique by many companies wishing to protect their corporate image.

Only 55% of search engine marketers report intentionally “coordinating or integrating” their search marketing efforts with at least one offline marketing channel.

More staggering, only 12% of respondents coordinate or integrate search with TV, despite TV being the leading (37%) offline driver of search activity. Users who have been led by offline media to search are also more likely to purchase than those who have not.

24% of search marketers report that the reason for not integrating search with offline is that they are not advertising in other channels.

The study describes this strategy as “ill-advised” due to the contribution a mixed media schedule drives increased purchase intention and sell through over a 100% search campaign alone. The study advocates a well coordinated mixed media schedule, particularly inclusive of TV if this is affordable for you.

While including the company name and URL in advertisements is necessary, optimization should go further. Use of the same keys words in both offline and online campaigns is practiced by only 26% of respondents.

Major opportunities are missed by not coordinating the language, slogans and jingles within offline advertising into search campaigns. Many reasons for this lack of integration have been cited, including a lack of budget, human resources or separate divisions handling offline marketing to search activity.


The findings will be welcomed by the TV industry who have long emphasized the persuasive power their medium over a consumers’ emotional state and its ability to embed messages and drive sales intention. There is a great deal of scope in 2009 for better integration between the two media.

Moreover however the report shows marketers how to develop campaigns whose messages and benefits are delivered consistently across media in a way that drives purchase intention through SEM and SEO.

A copy of the report is available by contacting iProspect Australia  -

TV's Golden Age - fortunes of TV in early 2008- how things have changed

TV: The third golden age?

It wasn’t long ago we were predicting the end of TV and its control of the massive ad market share it commands. By 2004, online advertising was finding its sea legs after 3 years adrift. We were entering a new era of “lean forward” advertising. One clever digital guru came up with a new name for TV advertising – “passive media”.  Hardly a neighbourly gesture from advertising’s new kid on the block. 

The TV industry was caught off-guard by the onslaught. In hindsight, the campaign by Free TV to support TV advertising was a more effective advertisement for online. James Warburton, while only new to his role at Seven, was one of few outspoken voices that supported the sustainability of TV. I was there when he was booed off-stage at an industry lunch for his ‘outdated’ views. I think I booed once or twice, but admired his courage.

Five years is a long time when we are in the middle of a digital revolution. If you have been navigating the media landscape with your 2004 street directory, you will be lost. Far from being relegated to oblivion, TV is thriving. All major networks have had a stellar start to 2008, while MCN posts growth rates of over 25% with no sign of slowing.

Two things have changed that perhaps we didn’t see in 2004. 

Firstly, technology and the way we use it has changed. Australians are currently buying 1500 HD TV’s a week, with the average TV in Australia measuring 50 inches. A set costing over $10,000 in 2004 can be purchased for around $1000 today. We are in the middle of updating the way we entertain ourselves at home and this isn’t only about the home computer or iPod.

Changes to federal law have also driven innovation within our traditional broadcasting models. In the next 18 months we could see 15 additional channels, including delivery on the promise of HD TV.  Programming formats and digital extensions to programming are changing the role of the TV within the home and how we use it.

Far from declining, our TV viewing has increased. In 1999 the average household consumed 2hr 45min/day of television compared to 3hr 7min/day in 2007 (Source: Etam). While a large part of the growth comes from subscription TV, we should realise this is the result of choice. Technological innovation in 2009 continues to increase this choice and will drive household consumption accordingly. The same could be said of the likely impact of PVR (aka Tivo and iQ) penetration in the years ahead.

While there are clear and obvious technological risks to how advertising is delivered in this new digital TV landscape, the canvas is getting bigger in every way, not smaller.

The second major innovation has been to the thinking of TV executives. Let’s face it – the TV industry in 2004 was very cozy. A shakeup was sorely needed and this has resulted in better TV and true innovation in programming and advertising formats today. A better product has led to more interest from advertisers and the current good fortunes of 2008 within the TV industry as a whole.  

While I don’t envy the task in front of David Gyngell, his efforts are driving a culture within the entire industry that leadership has to be earned. Innovation across Seven and Ten is only sustainable through the fierce competition of Nine and their two year drive to innovate in both technology and programming. If nothing, 2007 put an end to old beliefs that viewers were loyal to a particular network. Clearly audiences are loyal and engaged by great content and this can be challenged by any network, including subscription TV. If included in this process, advertisers will follow with their wallets.

Despite remarkable progress in 5 years, the industry has failed to deliver on a pricing model for TV advertising post 2008. Today’s pricing models are becoming redundant because of both technology and the changing role of the TV in the home. There is no clear solution in sight and no obvious champion within the industry. 

TV hasn’t been this interesting in years and there is more drama to come.

Rant on common media measurement Adnews 2008

Every six months or so the question of a common measurement system across online and offline becomes a hot topic. Supporters of a common measurement system argue that such a move would benefit digital advertising, by increasing the measurement and effectiveness of integrated media campaigns. If internet advertising is as effective as its proponents claim, then the benefits would flow to online and other digital media.  More ominous claims have been made that digital media faces an advertiser backlash, risking millions in billings unless a common system is developed.

Those against common measurement argue that such a move would be an enormous step backwards for digital media. Why would you take the most accountable media available today and “dumb it down” so it can be compared against the scant measurement resources of many traditional media? Why is it so important for digital media to conform when there is not currently an adequate way to commonly measure existing traditional media integration? With FTA and subscription TV moving closer to digital media over the next 5 years, why would digital media move backwards?

The heart of this debate reflects two different approaches to media integration. Both sides agree that the future of media will be more complex than the past, and that digital media is here to stay. That is reassuring in itself. The real difference in opinion lies in what we intend to integrate around, and how we measure effectiveness as a result.

The proponents of common measurement see the media plan at the centre of integration. Their hope is for a system that compares the impact, effectiveness and reach of different media within a fixed campaign or period. A shared set of measures would allow media owners, agencies and marketers to communicate with a common language around an ever more complex media landscape. Different media could be valued, and included in the media plan, based on its influence on common measurement criteria.

Not only is such a proposition fanciful, it is naive and outdated.

The core proposition around any common measurement is that different media alternatives have a comparable value, impact and purpose to each other. For example it would assume a relationship in impact, purpose and desired response between a TV advertisement, online advertising, outdoor, mobile marketing and email marketing and a direct mail campaign. I pity the advertiser who hopes to succeed under such assumptions. Some of media’s most exciting developments in search marketing, branded content and activation programs will fail to fit within such a model.

Agencies and marketers against common measurement see the appropriate object of integration as the client’s core business objectives. Media is selected and measured on its contribution to achieving the goals of the client, at each level of a purchase or marketing cycle. If awareness and simultaneous impact is needed, TV is a natural fit and we should buy and measure TV on its strengths and contribution accordingly. If online is considered, we should look at its strengths and contribution at each stage of the marketing cycle and buy against those criteria. At the heart of such a technique is an appreciation that target audiences react differently to media alternatives, at different times. It also acknowledges that consumers’ relationship to the media is complex – but not unfathomable. In place of secondary research and benchmarking, primary pre- and post-campaign research becomes more important in understanding campaign impact and success. Advertising becomes a continuous process of planning and consumer feedback. The media plan evolves accordingly and measures our progress towards tangible business objectives.

With our media landscape becoming more complex common measurement is an enticing concept. The end result of such an initiative would be to rob different media of its unique strengths and marketers of their ability to understand and maximize opportunities within media.