Mediapost Article: More 2014 Advertising Predictions

January 1, 2014

More 2014 Advertising Predictions: More Top Funnel Programmatic, Mobile Integration, Privacy Power, TV to Video

Here’s yet more 2014 advertising predictions, this time from Eric Bosco, CEO of Choicestream via Mediapost. Trend highlights:

  • More top of funnel programmatic ad buying
  • Increased integration of mobile
  • The rise of data privacy issues and emerging solutions
  • Video neutral planning and buying as TV and Video blur

I agree with all of these and think that the first one is particularly interesting, with much to learn about how creative, media weight, programming and site content impact top and bottom of funnel metrics differently.

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Shifting Digital Accountability to Brand Marketers

June 3, 2013

Growing up, when I was pestering my parents about something that I just really, really had to have (like a real, live pet monkey), they would often say:

“Be careful what you ask for; you might just get it.”

Brand Marketers have been asking for lots more from digital—but have largely been unmoved by the response, and their anemic spending shows it.

Shifting Digital Accountability to Brand Marketers

Shifting Digital Accountability to Brand Marketers

They ARE shifting more money into digital, particularly as on-line video, mobile and social explode.  But their digital spending has lagged their direct marketing counterparts, as they continue to look for more evidence of the efficacy of digital advertising.

The accountability debate is shifting quickly though, from digital publishers and measurement companies to the Brand Marketers themselves.

What do Brand Marketers Need?

1.  Audience Delivery – Much has been written recently about the issues and opportunities associated with digital audience delivery. Any reader of the advertising and media press knows that large numbers of digital ads are not delivered to their intended audience, and many aren’t even viewable—a real embarrassment to many who prided digital on its precise targeting.

But the fact that we are even talking (or writing about) this topic says a lot about how to solve the problem. We can now measure how well, or how poorly, individual sites perform in delivering digital advertising to their intended audience—on a daily basis. And, with metrics that are common across platforms—e.g. reach, frequency, GRP’s against key demographic targets, Brand Marketers can now much better understand the relative performance of different media.

2.  Brand Impact – Brand Marketers care not just about sales, but about their brand or, more specifically, brand equity. They want to know that digital advertising has equal or more brand building impact than the alternative mediums.

Digital brand building metrics have now equaled and, in some cases, surpassed metrics from other mediums. Brands can not only measure increases in awareness, brand recall and other traditional ad effectiveness metrics, but can now also link ad exposure directly to traditional brand equity metrics. Given these tools, Brand Marketers should be confident that they can really understand the impact of digital advertising on their brand KPI’s.

3.  Sales Impact – Not surprisingly, while Brand Marketers want to see that digital advertising builds their brand, they also want to know that their brand building efforts result in sales. There are multiple approaches available for measuring the sales impact of digital advertising.

Traditional Market Mix Modeling (MMM) is one, and it’s particularly effective at giving brand builders a relative understanding of how digital advertising compares to other traditional mediums such as TV and Print. That is, for every $1 invested in digital, what on or off-line sales return do I get and how does that compare to other media?

A newer approach for Brand Marketers is Attribution Modeling, which models individuals’ exposure to different digital touch-points against sales. Ironically, attribution modeling was first advocated by direct marketers who were trying to understand the contribution of different digital exposures to search based click-thru.

The advantage of attribution modeling is that it can typically measure more granular digital activities than MMM and the impact of cross-platform exposure on sales—e.g. it can “attribute” impact to different touch-points and combinations thereof.

In either case, there really is no excuse now for not understanding the sales impact of your digital advertising—ROI measurement in digital is very good–even for brand based advertising.

4.  Real Time Optimization – One of Marketers biggest frustrations across all media has been their inability to quickly understand advertising and media performance, and then make improvements in-flight.

Digital, in theory, should be great at this, and in fact has made great strides with real-time bidding (RTB). RTB uses real time performance metrics (click thru, etc.) by site, placement, etc. to understand how to bid and re-allocate spend to the best performing placements just as its name implies—in real time. But again, these gains have mostly been in the direct response world, leaving brand marketers to wonder about what could have been.

Well, direct marketing to the rescue. Real time optimization is now the domain of the Brand Marketer. Brands can now select a few key brand metrics, measure impact continuously across creative units, sites, exposure frequency, and audience, and optimize in real time to improve results.

Optimization can be done manually by the Agency, or via demand side platforms. Some progressive agencies have even take this further by collaborating with publishers on real time optimization to deliver much stronger brand results.

Shifting Accountability to Brand Marketers

Brand Marketers used to have a real issue with digital—accountability. “What does it do for my brand ? How does it impact my sales?” Fair questions that, frankly, weren’t being answered very well until recently. Hence, the slower adoption of digital by the brand focused Marketing community.

The accountability debate has shifted—to Brand Marketers. There really is no reason, at least no measurement reason, that Brand Marketers shouldn’t be playing in digital—in a big way. Now Brand Marketers need to be accountable for measuring, understanding and improving the impact of their digital advertising.

And, let’s hope they fare better than I did with my monkey request. Because while my pet monkey was a lot of fun (and a blast at show and tell), I also spent an awful lot of time cleaning up his messes—at meal time and otherwise !

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In-Store as Advertising: A Fresh Look

September 13, 2010

In-store communications, long the backwater of advertising, is getting a fresh look. Increasingly, Marketers are realizing that the in-store environment is a critical marketing communications touchpoint, and one that they need to get right to succeed. 

Leveraging the Store as Advertising

In-Store Communications — Why It’s Important

The in-store environment has always been important. For most categories, research has consistently shown that the majority of purchase decisions are made at the shelf. This isn’t changing anytime soon. 

In addition, the advent of in-store apps (see “Digitizing the 1st Moment of Truth”) are adding to the urgency for brands to become much more strategic about how they communicate with consumers in-store. Why? Consumers now have the ability to access product information, ratings and their social networks opinions about brands—right at the point of sale. 

Finally, if this weren’t enough, retailers are becoming much more sophisticated in their use of video networks and other in-store communication vehicles, and non store brands are at risk of falling behind. For example, many retailers routinely measure in-store video impact by location, category, time of day, etc. And much of this advertising is for their store brands—or said differently, your competitor. 

In-Store Video Networks: Increasingly Important

Traditional In-Store Drivers – Features, Displays & Pricing

One major reason for Marketers historical lack of attention to in-store communications was their focus on in-store “fundamentals.” For 25+ years, companies have used scanner data to measure the impact of features, displays and pricing on their volume and share. And, in many categories, the impact of these factors is huge. So large, that the role of in-store communications has been largely drowned out. 

Another reason for the lack of focus on in-store communications is that CPG companies took a very simplistic view of the “path to purchase” — e.g. there was none—or almost none. Conventional wisdom said this:  get your basic equity advertising and in-store conditions right, and volume and share would follow. Increasingly, however, CPG Marketers are realizing that the in-store message is important—and also different from their equity message. 

Finally, another factor in the inattention to in-store communications is lack of measurement. As a brand manager, I measured the impact of all kinds of in-store conditions—but communicating my message? Forget it. Marketers didn’t focus on in-store communications, in part, because there were no viable tools to measure and track it over time. 

What’s Different About In-Store Communications

It’s important at this point to note the obvious:  in-store communication is very different from other advertising mediums like TV, Print and the Web. How? 

In-Store Communication

  • In-store communications are not linear.  Unlike TV, for example, where you are (usually) tuned to a single channel and see ads sequentially, the in-store experience is non-linear. Hundreds, if not thousands, of brands compete for your attention–all at the same time. Think break-thru is tough in TV? Think about in-store.

  • In-store communications cut across multiple mediums.  It’s possible for a single brand to communicate via 3, 4 or more different mediums in store—e.g. packaging, in-store video, displays, etc.  — and all can be used to communicate the same message to the same consumer on the same shopping trip.
  • In-store communications are not usually about equity messaging.  Marketers are focused on building brands, and communicating the key owenership equities for their brand. But many brands have learned that equity messaging is not the most appropriate message on the last stop in the path to purchase.

So, the in-store communications challenge is very different from other communication touch-points. 

What’s Needed For Effective In-Store Communications

What's Needed for Effective In-Store Communications

  1. Message Strategy — Marketers need to define the in-store messaging that maximizes purchase. This sounds so simple, yet in my experience, the vast majority of Marketers do virtually no research on the path to purchase and what in-store messaging motivates purchase.
  2. Message Qualification — Even if they have the right strategic message defined, Marketers need to qualify in-store messaging, and not just assume they have the right execution. What’s the in-store equivalent to copy testing? Most organizations don’t have one.
  3. In-Store Media Mix – As noted earlier, the in-store environment offers a multitude of media touch points. Which ones are most effective for your brand? Which combinations of touch points work best? And, do they play different roles in stopping, engaging and activating consumers?
  4. Campaign Integration – Even if the messaging in-store is different from your overall equity messaging, it’s still important to connect your messaging to your core equities and “pay rent” to the parent equity message.
  5. On-Going Assessment – Once in-market, tracking messaging effectiveness is key. There’s a big gap in the market today for doing so. Marketers need to work with measurement partners to measure performance in market to be sure that their messaging is working as intended.

CMO’s and their Marketing teams need to think of the store as a Marketing communication touch point–and one that’s becoming increasingly important. Optimizing and integrating this  touch point into the overall Marketing programs is an important opportunity that more brands should capitalize on. 

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Brand InEquity – Making Brand Equity Work

August 3, 2010

I recently came across an interesting Q&A with Professor Byron Sharp from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. Byron was commenting on the validity, or lack thereof, of various brand equity measurement approaches: 

Professor Byron Sharp Talks Brand Equity

Interviewer:
But you don’t like these brand tracking services ? 

Byron:
There is an industry that provides special scores on brands, based on surveying customers.  These services mostly claim to be measures of things like brand loyalty or brand equity.  They usually have exotic names like commitment model, brand esteem, brand voltage, brand asset evaluator….Essentially they claim to be able to predict whether the brand is about to gain or lose market share. 

I think any claims made for these proprietary products should be subject to independent examination.  It’s the job of academics to do this testing. Some of the claims are so extraordinary, and so important that they deserve to be checked out.  If they turn out to be true that would be fabulous. 

Interviewer:
And do these proprietary brand health surveys, these metrics, work? 

Byron:
Well that’s just the thing.  No-one knows… 

This is pretty strong stuff. It’s an article of faith for almost all well-trained Marketers that building your brand’s equity is one of the most important things that you can do. But, the question is: is brand equity really important and if so, how are we doing at measuring it? 

How Are Marketers Measuring Brand Equity?

Brand Equity — Important or Not ?

I have to admit, it’s hard to summon any kind of rational argument that Marketers shouldn’t care about brand equity. Fundamentally, Marketing is about understanding consumer needs–articulated or not–and then delivering and communicating products and services that meet these needs better than competitors. 

If this is the core of Marketing, then it’s self-evident that brands will want to stand for the equities associated with the consumer need and how their brand addresses it better than competition. Can anyone seriously argue this point? I think not. Rather, I think Professor Sharpe’s point is not that brand equity is unimportant, but that people are just not very good at measuring it. 

Brand Measurement: Linking Equity & Consumer Need

What’s Wrong With Equity Measurement

As Professor Sharp points out, there are many different approaches to measuring brand equity or brand health. But, I have two fundamental issues with virtually all of them: 

  1. How Advertising & Media Exposure Impacts Brand Equity — On the front end, Marketers develop advertising and other communications programs to convince consumers that their brand is better than competitors. Hence, they need to understand whether and how these programs are working. Only by understanding this can they optimize advertising and media plans to improve equity impact. Currently, equity surveys generally tell us whether equity scores went up, down or were flat. But, as for what caused the changes, who knows? There’s no easy way today to see the cause and effect relationship between advertising and media exposure and changes in brand equity.
  2. How Brand Equity Impacts Business Results — On the back end, wouldn’t it be great to know that there’s  actually a relationship between brand equity and business results? It’s just assumed by most CMO’s that higher equity scores are better. I too assume they are, but then where’s the evidence? What’s needed is a more direct cause and effect quantification of how changes in brand equity actually cause changes in sales or market share. This would go a long way toward helping inform the debate that CMO’s often have with their CEO’s and CFO’s as to the value of “brand” marketing. And today, this is sorely lacking.

Brand Equity & Market Share

What’s Needed: An End-to-End System

In talking to many senior level Marketers, I hear over and over again that people are looking for an end-to-end system that links key communication and business metrics together. They want to: 

  • Link copy testing scores to real-time in-market tracking of advertising and media effectiveness
  • Connect in-market tracking results to brand equity scores
  • Have brand equity metrics that connect to revenue and share outcomes

CMO's: Chartering The Path From Brand Equity to Business Results

End-to-End Communications — Just a Dream ?

Is this kind of system possible ? Time will tell, but I think it’s within sight. The advent of single source panels which connect what people watch and what people buy at the household level offer tantalizing possibilities.

Until then, Marketers should continue to focus on building brand equity, but keep in mind that higher equity scores are not an end in and of themselves. They ultimately need to drive better business results–otherwise who really cares about brand building? 

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The Marketing Musings of Donna Karan

May 31, 2010

When you think of Donna Karan, you think of fashion, right? Right, but Karan, known most for her Donna Karan, DKNY and Urban Zen brands, should also be known for something else:  Marketing savvy.

Donna Karan: CMO Marketing Advice

At a recent M50 CMO Summit I attended, Donna Karan talked at length about her business philosophy and passions. And, while she wasn’t talking directly about Marketing, she had some important things to say about it.

Marketing Musings — Donna Karan

1.  Work Where the Consumer Is – Donna started her talk by stating that she spent her formative working years working in a clothing store. There, she could observe consumers firsthand in all clothing dimensions:  looking at clothes, trying them on, walking in them, doing mirror evaluations, etc.

She literally lived with her consumers day in and day out — and developed an instinct for consumers and what they wanted. Here’s how she responded to the final question in the Q&A session:

What one piece of advice would you give CMO’s ? She replied: “Understand your consumer.”

Understanding Consumer Behavior: Critical to Marketing ROI

2.  Celebrate Artistry & Creativity – Of course artistry and creativity are central to the fashion business and Donna Karan’s success. But what about Marketing? Marketing is moving toward greater measurement rigor and increasing use of ROI metrics, as discussed in “The Genetic Markers of High Advertising ROI Brands” — so her advice is timely and important.

Artistry and creativity are also central to Marketing success; artistry and creativity are the wellspring and driving force for the transformation of mundane Marketing strategies into engaging and exciting Marketing — and terrific ROI results. CMO’s would be smart to remember this when they’re reviewing their metrics and dashboards.

3.  Look for the “Void” – What’s the “void?” The void for Donna Karan is the big unmet consumer need. She described it in almost mystical bright white light terms; the void was something she could see, focus, and lock onto, with laser like intensity. No focus groups or 1:1 interviews, no satisfaction studies, no product testing, no consumer research of any kind.

Sometimes you need to trust your gut instinct about what you need or want that’s missing in the market (for more on marketing innovation, see my post ““Leading Your Brand Beyond Marketing.”). If you’ve lived and breathed a business for some time, your gut instincts are often right on target–so trust them. Donna Karan trusted hers, and built a great brand from doing so.

Innovative Thinking Leads to Robust Marketing Plans

4.  Use World Cultures as Inspiration – World cultures are the inspiration for many of Donna Karan’s designs–particularly in her Urban Zen Foundation work. Donna talked about her interest and love of Balinese culture, along with the aborigines in Australia.

There’s an important learning for CMO’s here. It’s the power of sourcing your Marketing ideas from everywhere. Search and reapplication, best practices, whatever you call it, identifying great marketing ideas–wherever they’re created–and exporting them around the world is one of the smartest, cheapest ways for CMO’s to build the business.

Global Thinking Expands Marketing Capabilities

5. Make a Difference on the Outside and the Inside – With Urban Zen, Donna Karan focused increasingly on meeting both the external needs of consumers, but also their internal needs. She believes consumers want to be “conscious consumers” and engage with brands that make a difference socially.

As the world becomes more open and transparent, consumers are more networked and up to date than ever before. They often know the good and bad things about your brand before you do–and they increasingly know your company’s position on a range of economic, social and environmental issues.

In this environment, it’s increasingly important for brands to stand not just for an important functional benefit, but to also stand for being a brand that consumers can believe in–whether that’s being environmentally friendly, etc.  CMO’s need to define not just the functional benefits for their corporate brands–but important emotional ones as well.

Success = Understanding and Practicing Marketing Fundamentals

What struck me most about Donna Karan was that she really “gets” Marketing, even though she’s not a trained Marketer by profession. And this just confirms for me what I’ve always believed: most successful people inherently understand and practice the fundamentals of great Marketing.

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