November 29, 2007

Readers Ignore Banners

TAC has been saying for some time that banner ads are a very weak form of advertising -- far weaker than most traditional advertising.

If you're a typical web user, you've probably been exposed to dozens of banner ads today. Can you remember noticing even one? We all trained ourselves years ago to ignore banner ads on websites.

There are statistics that show that click through rates on banners are remarkably low (see Legends of Interactivity, Part 2.) Now there is apparently research showing that viewing of banners is tiny.

From comes this: "Ads may be the bread and butter of your site, but studies have shown that readers largely ignore banner ads..."


November 28, 2007

In-Your-Face Book

In its attempt to monetize its cultural success, Facebook is looking for trouble.

As we predicted in The Ribbon, consumers are getting increasingly suspicious of social networks prying into and publicizing their private activities. Consumers still don't understand how pervasive this is, but as they get a whiff of it, they aren't liking it.

Last week the Associated Press reported that users of Facebook have started complaining about a two-week old marketing program that reports to their "friends" about their online purchases. In other words, buy something from Overstock, and in a flash every one of your "friends" is alerted to what you bought. Hope it wasn't an inflatable girlfriend.

While you can opt out of this, the opt-out notice is apparently well-hidden by Facebook. This kind of perfunctory attention to privacy issues is just what's going to land them in deep shit if they don't watch out.

Within twenty-four hours, liberal advocacy group had signed up over 6,000 people to protest this practice.


November 27, 2007

Cookie Monstrosity

One thing you can say about the internet with absolute certainty -- there has never been another invention that has spawned more bad ideas.

The latest comes from Pepperidge Farm. From some retro universe they have launched a campaign called "Connecting Through Cookies" (I kid you not.) The centerpiece is a website called The Art of the Cookie.

You see, this website is going to be a social network (apparently there aren't enough online social networks) and lonely housewives are going to get together on line and talk about their cookies. And if you think I'm going to make a cheap joke here, I want to remind you that my daughter reads this blog.

Anyway, the marketing genius behind this had this to say... the company conducted ethnographic research by “going into our consumers’ homes, sitting down with them, talking to them about how they use our products.”

Hope you didn't pay too much for that ethnographic research, Mr. Pepperidge -- they use your products by eating them. No charge.

And, by the way, if there are any lonely housewives out there who want to connect through their cookies, I have a very nice single friend.


November 21, 2007

What A Concept!

The International Herald Tribune reports that Publicis is prepared to launch a brilliant new idea.

It's a fully-integrated agency with, like, the creative and media in one "agency-like entity." Holy cow, what'll they think of next!

Now, am I wrong or isn't this way ad agencies were configured for about a thousand years before the global bozos got their sweaty hands all over us?

For about a decade or more these guys have been talking out of both sides of their mouths -- reciting all the platitudes about the power of integration, and meanwhile dis-integrating an agency's two most important functions: creative and media.

And speaking of turkeys, have a nice holiday and we'll see you Monday.


November 20, 2007

More Marketing Morons

According to Ad Age, Pontiac is shifting its advertising efforts toward media that appeal to younger audiences such as video game tie-ins, Web ads and spots on sports channels and late-night shows.

The logic of this is perfectly idiotic and, as such, perfectly in line with the brainless reflexes of so many marketers. (See Aiming Low) A few facts:

1. The average Pontiac buyer is over 50.
2. Baby Boomers and older comprise as much as 80% of the market for new cars.
3. Of the 13 cars the average American will buy in a lifetime, 8 will be bought after they're 50 years old.
4. Even if they want a Pontiac (which they don't and never will) young people can't afford new cars, and no lender in their right mind will finance them.

By the way, Pontiac sales are down over 14% this year. Hard to figure, isn't it?


November 19, 2007

Not Dead Yet

From the usually sensible Bob Garfield speculating in Advertising Age, March 26, 2007, about the future of advertising: “It's a world ... in which ad agencies are marginalized ... in which marketing -- and even branding -- are conducted without much reliance on the 30-second spot ... Because nobody is much interested in seeing them, and because soon they will be largely unnecessary.” Yeah, right.

Meantime according to The Wall Street Journal this year there is more demand for Super Bowl spots than anytime since 1999, the height of dotcom insanity.

All this hyperventilating over digital media really needs to calm down. People still spend half their media time with good old television and the click through rate on banner ads is still under .002 -- in other words, zilch.


November 14, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

TAC apologizes to my loyal readers (both of you) for missing a couple of days. Been traveling and doing real work. I'll be back tomorrow.


November 12, 2007

Marketing Gurus Finally Getting It

I read something in Seth Godin's blog today that made me think some marketing gurus are finally starting to get it. The post is called "What Brand Is Your Mattress? "

Seth says, "They (some marketers) believe that the brand can build the product. That's backwards." Which is what we've been screaming about for years.

Remember The Ad Contrarian mantra: We don't get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand, we get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.

You will find a lot more about this in The Ad Contrarian book. (It's free)


November 09, 2007

Dirty Rotten Liars

A while ago we posted something called "Research or Baloney".

The subject was the unreliability of online research. Since then, the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) has called for a study of online research.

One of the points we made was that online samples are terribly unreliable because you can never know who is responding. If a sample is unreliable, the results are worthless.

Now Business Week confirms our opinion with an article about rampant lying online by teens.

Yes, online research is cheaper and quicker. But cheap, quick research can turn out to be costly for a long, long time.


November 08, 2007

Status Anxiety

I gave a luncheon talk yesterday. It was to a hundred or so ad execs. Some from agencies, some from media.

They were lovely people who seemed in large part to agree with what I had to say. This is deeply troubling.

I think I may be losing my status as a contrarian.


November 07, 2007

The Rolling Wave

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be writing about a phenomenon which we (my colleagues and I) have dubbed "The Rolling Wave."

This wave is a hugely important and influential group of people who are breaking the traditional adoption pattern of new products and new technologies. They are looking beyond product benefits and brand personalities and are making buying decisions -- both consciously and emotionally -- on a whole new set of criteria.

We call them "The Rolling Wave" because they are continually being replenished from the vast sea of consumers and are moving quickly and steadily in one direction.

If you're in the business of marketing a new product, a new technology, or a new brand I think you will find this idea interesting. Stay tuned.


November 06, 2007

Read A Book

People sometimes ask me what my favorite books about advertising are. Here you go:

1. e by Matthew Beaumont
A truly hilarious novel about a London ad agency in the throes of a big new business pitch. The gag is, it's written in the form of company emails. I know it sounds tedious but, trust me, it's terrific.

2. Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris
A very funny, and mildly frightening, novel about a Chicago ad agency that's going down the tubes.

Hope you enjoy.


November 02, 2007

Ads or Content?

In a headlong rush to get ahead of the digital curve, some once-upon-a-time excellent ad agencies are turning out some pretty awful advertising.

These agencies have decided they are no longer in the ad business. They're in the "content" business -- whatever the hell that means. Apparently they have stopped hiring advertising creatives and have instead been hiring "content providers." And you know what? The content stinks.

These agencies better figure out who they are and what business they're in. If they're in the ad business they better keep these "content providers" away from the ads, or their hard-earned creative reputations will fade in a hurry.