More company in the “Future”

A noteworthy installment from Cory Treffiletti on his MediaPost board yesterday.

I wrote on the topic of media futures several several times and in detail in my past life at Brand.net (the pioneer in this area), so nothing new for me in Cory’s piece.  But it is nice to see more and more folks coming around to recognize the need for and value of a futures market for digital advertising.

I specify “digital” advertising here even though (as Cory mentions) the upfront provides a futures market of sorts for “non-digital” television advertising today.  It bears repeating that format convergence means all advertising will be digital in the not-too-distant future.  The innovation in transactional models for media will continue to be driven in the market we see as digital today, then as more and more IP-connected devices ship we will see the old TV upfront model subsumed by the new futures model that was developed for digital.

Not going to happen tomorrow, but will certainly happen.

I would also highlight Cory’s point that it is large clients – many of whom have sophisticated trading operations in other raw material inputs – that will likely drive this change.  With some exceptions (Digitas and Hill Holliday notable among them) most media agencies lack the required skills and perspective.

Given this reality, I wouldn’t be surprised if the desire for a futures-driven approach to align media buying with other raw material procurement initiatives is a catalyst for more than one large advertiser to bring their media buying in-house over the next couple years.

IBM, SAP and others seeking to enter the media market by working directly with marketers should give this some thought.

Interesting MediaPost Blog – “Team Publishing: Stop Whining”

Many interesting points raised in this recent MediaPost Blog.  Certainly an interesting take on one of the reasons for the current predominance of DR over Branding in online advertising and I agree wholeheartedly that online display ads are a far better branding medium than it’s currently fashionable to believe.  (I found myself thinking, “AMEN!” as I read that paragraph.  Well put.)

I also agree that the more compelling the creative opportunities for brand marketers the better, as long as a standard approach can be developed.  I’m not sure that the tethered ad approach that’s recommended is the right solution, but that doesn’t detract from the argument against clutter.  A publisher choosing to go to with 100% tethered ads would likely execute that choice operationally the same way they would execute any other new ad unit, so the real question is, “What’s the most effective ad unit for brand marketers?”.  Certainly a worthwhile question.  Would also point out that networks as whole wouldn’t necessarily lose in the scenario outlined.  Many certainly would if the new unit was less effective (lower ROI) for DR campaigns, but Brand marketers and Branding-focused ad networks would welcome any new standard unit that improved results for online branding.

Lessons in Online Branding: Working the Full Funnel; Balancing Online Measurement With Offline Sales

This past month two of my recent byline articles were featured in the Online Media Daily section of MediaPost.  I thought it was worth a quick re-post on our blog for those that don’t regularly read MediaPost.  While each article stands on its own, they were originally composed together.

The first article offers a different perspective to the steady stream of Direct Response focused press which seems to suggest that performance-based and/or online-only metrics are the only important ones to consider in managing online advertising spend.  I agree that measurement is important and that whenever possible we want to drive toward direct metrics (e.g., ROI).  However, here’s our collective challenge: the vast majority of retail commerce–nearly 90% overall in 2008 and much higher for key Brand categories like CPG and Automotive–still takes place offline. Thus, for the majority of marketers evaluated based on their success in driving offline sales, online-only metrics are likely to be less useful than proven tools like brand awareness/favorability, purchase intent or even reach and frequency, for that matter.  These metrics certainly are not perfect, but they are tested, well-understood and are useful across media.  The Internet can increasingly facilitate the accurate and economical measurement of Brand metrics and there continue to be exciting advances in online measurement capabilities, but there are still some real limitations when it comes to measuring offline impact.  Brand marketing fundamentals remain critical to overall marketing success, even online, and Brand marketers cannot afford to ignore the obvious value available online today.

The second article cites specific evidence to show how critical it is to work the full advertising funnel versus focus only on metrics which are easily measurable and quantifiable.   I use two examples to support this point of view: (1) research published by the Atlas Institute and (2) an example from my past experience running pricing and yield management for Yahoo!’s global display business.  These examples illustrate why value can be difficult to measure and also how models cannot substitute for domain experience and common sense.

As always I would welcome your comments and feedback.