The banner ad….

I rarely spend time in my role thinking about the humble banner ad – they’re something that comes through as a given request on a media plan and sort of just gets done by the studio.

Earlier on I saw a study by Google that spoke of a fall in CTR year on year (0.09% down from 0.1%). Whilst only 1 click in every 1000 feels extremely low when you compare that to that age old, did they actually read our magazine ad (let alone bother to action anything on the back of it) it suddenly feels slightly more positive.

 

CTR by media typeIt does make you wonder though whether creativity has gone out of the display ads. I remember  would labour over a display creative brief and agonise over whether this is the right ad for the target audience, the brand and the website. Now, more often than not, these briefs go straight over my head. Seen as production jobs not as a creative, or consumer challenge. Is this really the case? Should we not be nailing creativity in each and everything we do?

Interestingly I think it was the arrival of social and the focus more on getting the content right that saw this shift. Suddenly the destination has become more important than the journey to get there because, if the interaction is right, they’ll tell their mates and you wont have to spend a penny more on the ads…

This is a naive approach and, if anything, this article serves as a reminder to me that each and every stage of the journey needs to be as important – how to weave it into the thinking at the start needs to become critical so it doesn’t become that forgotten craft and CTR continue to plummet as creativity, and consumer apathy, increases to our faithful internet wallpaper friends – All hail the banner!!

I talk, I watch, I tweet…

I was looking into some stats the other day around the usage of social media and how it’s shaping how we use (and discuss) the big events in the news.

If you start off and use the latest Kate / William Royal wedding saga it’s evident how much digital chat it got purely from looking at your own social media pages but, in actual fact it score 74 updates  per second (facebook) and 68 updates per second (Twitter) – Unbelievable numbers but still only rated as Number 6 in the top 10 web events of all time. 

Kate and WIlliam Royal wedding balcony kiss

Royal wedding: 2011.

So what was the top 3 (according to Akami)

  1. World cup qualifiers/Wimbledon match   (June 24th) :   10m vpm (meaning 10 million page views per minute: to the web)
  2. Champions league / European cup   (Nov 3rd):                     6m vpm
  3. Wold cup championships   (June 3rd):                                       6m vpm

Interestingly again is that this trend appears to only be going from strength to strength as all of the top 10 happened in the last 12 months (suggesting ongoing growth or accessibility of WWW) but also 4 were current affairs driven and 6 were sport driven.

Even when we can’t be out of home, involved in the action be it with mates or in the local – we’re still craving opinon, debate and banter – and logging in is giving us the ability to do just that.

For brands the impact of real time advertising to move to the next level is immense (for brands brave enough to take that leap) and, for people, we continue to shun real world and become more involved than ever in relationship with our brightly lit, temptingly tappable, laptop friends.

Social media rage…

So, I was on Facebook again (that default activity when you’re up at 6am, a little bit bored and you find yourself on Facebook without consciously even navigating your way there) and got rage at yet another brand, giving me yet another pointless update.

Yes I’m enjoying the sunshine, having a good easter, the bunny has got me eggs, I’ve had a roast dinner and the BBQ has been on which I enjoyed with chicken and a glass of Jacques cider (seeing as you asked) but for the love of god why does a brandreally care…

You don’t.

AND more importantly (as your digital agency should be pointing out)  you shouldn’t.

I think there is a big piece of education work here for brands… Would you have sent out an email everyday asking people how they are? (NO) would you have posted a constant stream on your website for people to read what they already know is happening? (NO) Would you talk in you TV advert about the fact it’s BBQ time even though you’re a healthcare brand? (NO)

so please STOP doing it in social media. It’s not big and, although someone has probably told you it is, it isn’t clever.

I don’t want to harp on about content is king and relevancy is queen (see other posts!) but go back to the basics (please!!) social media isn’t a stream of status updates, nor is it a competitions application. It should be part of your digital strategy not a stand alone broadcast .

Right that’s more than enough Facebook anger for one day. Back to the sunshine….

The death of books?

I love books. I like choosing a book by its, spine, a cover, a good review and I love picking it up and turning the pages.

I’ve always said I can’t imagine reading a book on an eReader but recently I’ve started to question how long I will resist getting one. I’m now used to reading news on my laptop, opting for paperless comms from brands and browsing pretty much anything on my iPhone.

Looking at a recent statement from amazon they stated that their US book business saw

Amazon.com is now selling more Kindle books than paperback books. Since the beginning of the year, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the Company has sold 115 Kindle books.

Does that make paperback readers a minority or simply mean those owning an eReader buy more books?

Although the UK is by no means seeing penetration at this level, Chris North, managing director of Amazon, said that the Uk was heading in the same direction…

So, how long till I get a kindle… I reckon by 2012 I’ll have succumbed!

Another terrible campaign… this time its No7

So after I declared my hatred of the irritating pantene/cat deeley/swissh campaign I was upset this morning to see another ad that appears to be a direct copy.

Dont upload a swish, upload a wink….. *yawn*

– these ads are so similar I’m sure the same concept boards could have almost been used.

That said Boots have at least made some positive changes within their exquisite curl campaign…

  • The campaign URL is more memorable
  • They allow video and photo uploads
  • The campaign sits within Facebook allowing user interaction with the brand, and the brand is responding quickly
  • The prizes, although low value, are encouraging trial by proving lots of product winners

And No7, despite your terrible advertising, I’ll still buy your mascara – because it’s good, not because of a wink, and an exquisite curl sample would be lovely 😉

Lets shift our budget to social media…

Digital sometimes feels like one big circle. From shifting all money onto banners, to websites, to emails, to search and now to social one thing is clear – brands are still focusing on one part of the channel rather than a diverse channel that has many components.

I’m not disagreeing with the fact that social media is inevitably worthy of a brands attention – it is. But what I would be wary of is brands seeing it as a replacement of their website. Somewhere that they can now house content instead of a brand site.

To name one example Brand republic said yesterday…

according to comScore, Bacardi’s unique visitor numbers fell 77% between 2009 and 2010 – it is understood that the company will be shifting up to 90% of its digital spend to its presence on Facebook in the next one to two years.

Does Bacardi really need to shift this high proportion to Facebook? What happens IF the platform as a whole sees a decline? What’s the context of this quote? Is it shifting it’s spend (and it’s content) to facebook OR shifting it’s advertising focus to Facebook? (with it’s content being enabled to live across an array of platforms). With a decline in brand site visitors it makes sense to house content where the consumers already are but what brands do need to be mindful of is that simply having a presence is still not enough.

Facebook (and the majority of social networks) work on a real-time basis. Brands who simply post a status update and “expect” consumers to see it will gradually see a decline in engagement as consumers feeds get more and more crowded, and like the email mechanic that came before it, begin to simply ignore or unsubscribe from messages that are too frequent or irrelevant (which I’ve ranted about before!). Brands will simply end up in the same scenario but a different platform – people will ignore them on Facebook rather than ignore their brand sites.

For me it’s not a channel challenge, it’s still a creative challenge.  If it’s a good idea, that you advertise and tell people about, that people then talk about and that people then engage with its irrelevent where it sits. It’s the content, not the final platform delivering that content, that is still king.

Noeldle…

Okay – so I know it’s February, and I know Xmas is well and truly over (and they are selling easter bunnies alongside valentines crap in my local garage) BUT I stumbled across this viral when I was looking over the IAB showcase winners from last year and it made me chuckle!

I love the way AKQA, and the client, have embraced all the qualities that Pot Noodle is. Slightly grim looking, slightly (okay very) chavvy and possibly consumed by the lower end of the socio-economic scale that most brands will quietly omit from their marketing efforts.

It makes a pleasant change from brands that crop the reality out of their marketing in favour of that one sexy consumer who “happened” to fall into shot!

Love it!

Balloonacy

It’s good to see the good people at Orange are ressurecting the internet balloon race  that saw fantastic results and a whole host of awards for Poke London a couple of years ago.

I think the problem with digital is that people get so hell bent on innovating they forget that there is room to improve on campaigns that have previously worked. Admittedly this doesn’t give brands the right to role out the same campaigns year in, year out, with small design tweaks and copy changes (to save in production) and yes, I’ve had to ressurect plenty of those for clients… But to find a formula that works, isn’t yet tired, and can be improved on is something that marketers have done for years but seems more frowned upon in the digital space.

Will be interesting to see how this campaign works in relation to the last when it launches on the 8th November but, until then, don’t forget to get your balloon!

Pantene Swissh – The most annoying ad on TV?

It’s probably either testament to me being a core target for Pantene or evidence of how much crap TV I watch that the Pantene (and Cat deeley) Swissh ad seems to be hitting me everytime I hit the remote control. As I sat this morning watching New America’s Next Top Model it hit me yet again and, rather than cringe at Cat Deeley’s terrible “Swwwwissssh” voice over, with laptop poised and ready,  I thought I’d check out the website that Cat keeps telling me to look at – more out of marketing curiosity as opposed to learning how to swish my locks.

The first stumbling block, and marketing error – make the URL easy for the consumer to remember (and type)… I went online and typed in the URL as I heard from Cat “Visit make a swish dot com”

Nothing there…

Error 2 – make sure you make it easy for users to find the ad if they dont remember the URL. Surely if you’re spending a huge chunk of TV budget you can afford some PPC advertising around some of the key terms swish, Pantene, Cat Deeley….. I googled Pantene Swish, thinking this was the obvious, and went to the brand site (top result) – I reached a static page about swishing and was shocked that a TV ad was backed up by 3 steps on how to swish – surely there had to be more?! Error 3 – There was more content (see later), just not linked from that site!

Determined I rewound on the SKY PLUS to double check the URL on screen (Error 4 – how many consumers would really do that!)  and realised that the voiceover of “visit make a swish” was slightly misleading… It should have been

  Make, hyphen, a, hypen, swissh with two s dot com.

Not quite as catchy…

Once there the campaign site has a lot more content from both the brand, and consumers. I wont review it’s challenging usability, nor the relevancy of the content back to the brand but it appears to have some impact with 995 swisshes uploaded and 17k views (Visited Oct 2010). In terms of KPIs I dont know what they would have intended but, considering the media backup that this campaign is getting, and based on the sort of KPIs I know I would set for this type of campaign media spend,  this seems to be at face value a disappointing level of interactions – although without seeing the figures or final ROI I can’t really comment!

I think the key challenge with this campaign is what makes the content interesting – whilst uploading a swissh to enter a competition is an incentive to participate, there isn’t really a massive incentive to explore the content or engage further. There is only so much interest, and so much viewing of “swisshes” you can do! With such a minority of individuals within the population actively uploading content, and the majority of consumers only prepared to share, comment, or passively view brands,  ensuring that there is interesting content for the majority is almost more important for these mainstream brands.

That said there is a good attempt at through the line integration with this campaign. The TV advertising tying into the digital work, partnership deal online/offline with Cosmopolitan including an investment in a 3D cover to grab impact, a blogger outreach program and ending with an experiential stunt in December with the worlds biggest Swissh at the clothes show live.

I can’t help but think this campaign will do well on the impacts and see an immediate uplift in sales / trial purely due to its consistency in it’s approach and frequency of impacts that it must be achieving. Despite this, for long term brand impact, and for it’s creativity in the digital space this FMCG brand, as with many others, still have a lot to learn to digitally engage audiences fully and truly involve or immerse them in the brand, although perhaps this was never an objective in the first place…

Facebook wallpaper

This morning I logged into my facebook account and, as a fan of a number of brands (for personal and professional reasons!) I realised that 90% of the posts within my newsfeed were from brands and, of these posts, zero were interesting and relevent nor entertained me. The result – I’ve now begun to hide these brands from my status updates.

At the weekend I heard a friend say to another in the pub

OMG xxx person leaves such boring updates on her wall I’ve had to hide her from my newsfeed, imagine if she knew that?!

it begs the question, if people are doing this, what chance do brands have now that social media pages for brands is common-place not novelty.

Looking at brands facebook “strategy” (if we can be that grand) is interesting. Most brands think simply think that having a page and posting a status update is enough  , if you are an uber brand with fanatics whom think any updates is “amazing”. For the majority of the brands this is simply not good enough to engage fans and keep them from “hiding you” – the equivalent (almost) of the email unsubscribe.

Brands need to think clever. You wouldn’t produce a TV ad that says

Hi, I’m <insert brand name> did you have a good weekend?

so why do the same on facebook. The trick has to still be to intrigue and get impact not simply spam your users. Ask yourselves whats better – 100 random status updates across the month about the weather, the weekend and what you’ve got in store this week OR one post that intrigues and engages your fan-base and causes them to click and interact?

Take the recent Breast cancer awareness campaign “I like it on the….” – the campaign created around women being “in the know” and keeping men guessing uses Facebook to its advantages. A simple campaign to interact with (simply change your status) an easy mechanic to get involved with (Tell other women to change their status updates) and one that immediately causes intrigue and then the awareness. You only have to look at the spike in google searches around the campaign time to instantly see how people actively searched to find out what this meant and, thus would have uncovered the message.

I like it on "Google search traffic"

Brands need to realise that whilst status updates and keeping pages up to date are necessary for good housekeeping, to not be wallpaper brands need to have an interaction strategy – a creative idea with campaigns and tactics that keep the consumer interested to cause the shift in brand perception or consumer action away from the web. Yes – it does mean production costs increase BUT, as with any marketing channel, to get results you need to entertain and engage and, unfortunately for online, that means getting consumers to sit forward and interact. If your going to be lazy consumers will be too!