Sunday, September 23, 2007

Off to NYC

On Tuesday, Sept. 25th, I'll be in New York to attend the OMMA and Mixx conferences as part of Advertising Week. It will be a chance to catch up with old friends in the digital marketing business, network with some new connections and learn what the leaders in our space are doing to stay ahead of the pack. I'll share my observations here and potentially on

Going into the events, especially as media budgets are now being set for '08, I'm curious to match the level of the discourse to the attendees. In the past, I've always made a point to determine how many corporate decision-makers actually go to these shows. For the most part, it's been mimimal participation from this group. Yet this year has a different energy in the air. The massive changes in the digital media environment, both in the types of new offerings available (widgets, expanded social network opportunities, beyond pre-roll video, etc.) and property ownership switches (too many to rattle off) demand more first-hand involvement from SVP's and CMO's, vs. reliance on filtered re-caps from agency or staff surrogates.

We shall see.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just Stop

For the second time in nine months, I was courted by one of the major PR firms in Washington, DC to lead and build a Digital practice (needing a "visionary" as one of the execs told me, "someone to teach us Greek" said another) only to be told it was going with someone more "tactically focused," i.e. cheaper.

Now I'm not sure that the position in either instance was an ideal fit, and all of us who are veterans in the online space have "tail wagging the dog" war stories. But it occurred to me that even in 2007, my recent experience is all too familiar, and perhaps I can help reduce, if not eliminate, these pesky scenarios.

First, it's all right to come clean, in fact, it would be refreshing. Spare us the charade and own up - we know you really don't want to do this. Admit that you're too scared, unwilling or out of touch to embrace Digital channels as major components of your businesses. But please, I beg you please, do us all a favor and stop blathering in your jargon-filled speeches, poorly designed Web sites and cookie-cutter press releases about your commitment to Digital marketing and media when you are in no way willing to invest in the disciplines. It's not a secret that you don't want to hire legitimate talent or re-assign budget to upgrade your technological capabilities. Focus on playing caretaker to your dying conventional practices, which haven't changed for decades. Just get out of the way and please discontinue doing the following:

For Senior Management in Traditional Media -

  • Stop awarding your Digital Executive positions to toe-the-line internal cronies who have spent the past 20 years strictly on the traditional side.

  • Stop prefacing every idea about pursuing a Digital initiative with the question: "But what will this do to the mother ship?"

  • Stop telling us you're working on becoming "truly platform agnostic" when you have no appreciation for the speed at which you need to move.

  • Stop disavowing the insights of Jeff Jarvis and Dave Morgan.

For Advertising Agencies & PR Firms -

  • Stop interviewing Digital leaders to join your company when all you only have the stomach and budget for is a non-threatening, junior-level department of one that you expect to perform miracles immediately.

  • Stop believing you can extend the classic bait-and-switch tactic of trying to land new business then staffing the account - when it comes to Digital the reverse is true.

  • Stop limiting your considerations for planning, executing and measuring Digital campaign performance because you can't grasp the value of providing best in class reporting.

  • Stop listening to Joseph Jaffe.

For Corporate Marketing Departments -

  • Stop treating the Digital channels, in which your prospects and customers are spending more time, as a moonlighting gig for your traditional marcom and media personnel.

  • Stop allowing inept Web Operations gatekeepers to dictate your online branding and user experience environment; this isn't a space for amateurs looking for on-the-job training.

  • Stop enabling the heroin-like addiction to bloated, unaccountable Direct Mail expenditure, as performance continues to plummet, because "I just know it works".

  • Stop ignoring the guidance of Bob Garfield.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

How much do lemmings go for these days?

Great piece in WSJ today on whether the blizzard (not flurry) of online ad "solutions" acquisitions will actually pay off.

I contend WPP's purchase of 24/7 Real Media (for an unbelievabe $649 million) will be far and away the most disastrous of these deals. A buy-side owner now hyping in-house sell-side products is inherently flawed and screams conflict of interest.

From the article: "WPP executives say 24/7 Real Media should continue to expand quickly by selling services to WPP's existing clients."

So how does that pitch go? "Listen, I know you're happy with Atlas for ad serving, ValueClick for network inventory and iCrossing for SEM, but dump all that and use our new toys for the sake of convenience."

Just sprinting off the cliff...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Leaking Oil?

The spin Yahoo is attaching to its purchase of BlueLithium puzzles me. My expectation was that BL's primary value was as a nice extension to the RightMedia exchange and YPN (Yahoo Publisher Network), with a baseline price established by the Tacoda sale to AOL. But the release yesterday emphasized that BL extends Yahoo's "...ability to deliver powerful data analytics, advanced targeting and innovative media buying strategies to our customers," i.e. behavioral targeting. All good, but wasn't SmartAds supposed to do this?

So I have to ask:
  • If you're an advertiser, does BlueLithium replace SmartAds, or will you be presented 2 BT platforms when Yahoo comes calling?
  • If you're a Yahoo shareholder, does this move make sense or smack of desperation at the halfway point of the 100-day turnaround?