Innovate 1st Interview Part 3 – Social Media Myths and Truths

January 10, 2011

I was recently interviewed by Innovate 1st for an upcoming edition of Innovate eZine’s “Conversations on the Cutting Edge” series. Following are excerpts from the interview, which was conducted by Doug Berger, Managing Director, The INNOVATE Company.

To read the full interview series, start with my earlier blog post: “Challenges in Advertising & Media Effectiveness.” 

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Social Media Myths & Truths

Doug:        Let’s shift gears to social and digital media.  Why don’t you start with some basic facts and then move into some of the wide-spread fallacies.

Randall:     Globally, in 2007, there were about 210 million people using social media.  Today, it’s over 500 million people.  The time per person spent between 2007 and 2009 has gone up about 82 percent.

So more people are doing it, and they’re doing it a lot more.  Secondly, it is big everywhere.  When you look around the world at the percentage of people using social media, globally it’s 73 percent as of last year, from a low of 59 percent in Germany up to a high of 84 percent in Brazil, with the U.S. at the global average of 73 percent.

It started skewing a bit younger, but as the penetration of social media has grown, it’s become almost a truly representational population.

Social Media Myths & Truths

Doug:        What are the trends around social media in terms of brand building?

Randall:     We all know that a recommendation from a friend, or a family member, or an acquaintance is the most powerful form of marketing there is.  That is the underlying phenomena of social media.   Engaging people to ultimately have them speak positively on your behalf is the real opportunity of social media.

Let me just give you one example of this.  Nielsen (Disclosure: I work at Nielsen) has a partnership with Facebook, where they measure ad effectiveness on Facebook. They have looked at a basic ad for Virgin Atlantic and we can see the recall for the ad.  Facebook can serve up that same exact Virgin ad, except below its ad it says, “The following friends or people in your network are also fans of Virgin.”  These ads score much higher than just the regular ad without the social context.

Virgin Atlantic: Facebook Fan Page

One of the developments that advertisers need to be focused on are ways to leverage social context that validates having people seriously think about using or buying your brand.

A lot of our clients are moving to a media model that we like to call POEM – Paid, Owned, Earned Media.  Paid media is the traditional advertising.  Owned media is your own website, or you own your own content on a website.  Earned media is how consumers are talking about your brand.

This POEM framework is an interesting one to think about for reaching consumers.  Now advertisers can look at people who viewed an ad; the percentage who went online and searched for my brand; the percentage who went onto my Facebook page; the percentage who went to my corporate website.  You can measure all of that.  You can start to understand the interaction of paid and earned media in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

POEM Framework: Paid, Owned, Earned Media

Doug:        In the world of social media, there are myths that companies are acting on, but based on your statistics don’t have validity.  What are turning out to be some of the places where social media is not delivering marketing effectiveness?

Randall:     Social media is part of earned media messaging that’s carried out voluntarily by consumers on behalf of the brand. That voluntary messaging can be positive or negative.

The biggest myth is in viral marketing.  There is a belief that you can do a viral video and achieve much of what you would achieve, for example, with TV advertising at a fraction of the cost.

The reality is, first of all, that there are a rare few videos that ever go viral enough and get enough voluntary messaging by consumers to come anywhere close to the reach you can achieve on TV.  It really has to be earned through consumers giving you great ratings because your brand really worked; the product or service is a great one.

Old Spice & Viral Marketing

I remember a time when my wife and I went on vacation.  We came back to the Philadelphia Airport and her Lexus wouldn’t start.  I called customer service and I expected that they would send a tow truck. Instead, they walked me through a five-step process to get the car started and it all worked out.

That’s a fantastic example of where I could then go online and talk about my great experience with Lexus.  That is what advertisers need to be focused on … how do you drive voluntary positive messaging by consumers on behalf of your brand?

People have gotten hung up on going after something really cool and creative and different and having it go viral, as opposed to focusing on the real activities that build advocacy for your brand.

Doug:        What else have you found people to be really interested in?

Randall:     Let me come back to cross platform measurement.  You know that the cross platform exposure is driving much greater effectiveness among the people who see your ad in more places, and yet the media planning hasn’t caught up.

The media plans are still constructed in a way that drive more reach across each media instead of driving more overlap.  This area is going to get more attention.

Next:   Marketing in the B2B space

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Driving Desirable Digital Behaviors with TV Advertising

December 6, 2010

Things are not always what they seem. Two TV ads score the same—in copy testing or in market—so they’re equally effective, right? Not always.

TV: Driver of Consumer Digital Experiences

TV ads don’t just deliver awareness, message recall, etc. They drive behaviors—some of which are digital–and good for your brand.

Cross Platform Ad Effectiveness

Marketers increasingly want to understand how advertising works across mediums—particularly TV and Digital. Some of the more frequent questions I hear from CMO’s are the following:

  • What’s the value of a Facebook fan?
  • What’s the role of search in the customer journey?
  • How I use the web to drive greater engagement with consumers?
  • How can I drive more word of mouth and buzz for my brand?

These are all great digital questions. And lots of people have tried to answer them with digitally focused analysis—some effectively, some not.

Building Brands & Online Buzz

Another Way to Think About TV Ad Effectiveness

Here’s a different tack:  what if we analyzed these questions, not from a digital only perspective, but from a TV advertising perspective? Or, to say it differently, what if we were to ask the question as follows:

“What role does TV advertising play in driving desirable digital behaviors?”

TV & Digital Viewing Behavior

This has been a tough question to answer. Who’s going to keep a diary of what they watch on TV and then the myriad of things they do on-line? The fact is that our understanding of TV and Digital viewing behavior has been mostly limited to knowing how many people did what.

Just as important is understanding not only what people are doing, but in what sequence. And after viewing what ads? New single source viewing data opens up new possibilities for understanding media behavior:  it’s now possible to observe (with viewers permission) both what they watch on TV and what they then do on-line.

Next Generation TV Ad Effectiveness

So, back to the opening question. Two TV ads score the same—in copy testing or in market—so they’re equally effective, right? The answer: not always. Why?

Here are 4 new ways that TV advertising can drive positive digital behaviors.

1.  Drive Consumers to Your Facebook Fan Page – Many brands have embraced Facebook and are building Fan pages as opposed to their own branded websites. They see the advantage of “social” currency and a key objective is building the number of Facebook fans.

TV advertising has a role to play here:  more effective ads can drive more consumers to your brands fan page than less effective (or no) ads. Seen in this light, TV can play an essential role in your digital plans–even when the messaging doesn’t explicitly have a call to web action.

Facebook Fan Pages & Brands

2.  Drive Consumers to Search for Your Brand – Companies across all industries have embraced search, even in CPG, and for good reason. It works. Of course, paid search costs real money. So, how to drive more organic search for your brand? Well, one way is with your TV advertising. What portion of consumers seeing your TV ad go on-line and search for your brand?

3.  Drive Consumers to Your Brand Web Site – Like Facebook Fan Pages, many brands have their own website to engage and deepen the relationship with consumers. Question: is your TV advertising driving consumers to your website? Which ads are more versus less effective in doing so?

4.  Drive Consumers to Talk About Your Brand – Research from Keller-Fay has shown that approximately 1/3 of word of mouth is about TV advertising. How effective is your TV ad at driving word of mouth? Are two TV ads which score equally well on traditional ad effectiveness metrics driving different conversation levels about your brand? If so, one is clearly more valuable than the other (assuming the conversations are positive).

Capital One Mascot Challenge: Driving Consumers to Website

Driving Desirable Digital Behaviors

All of the above represent new ways of thinking about TV ad effectiveness. Traditional measures of TV advertising performance around breakthrough and branding will continue to be important.

But increasingly, Marketers need to think about how TV advertising drives other behaviors—particularly digital ones—that benefit their brands.

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3D Advertising Meets TV – Will Brands Benefit ?

September 27, 2010

“Wow, dad, that was way cool!”

That was the reaction of one of my kids after seeing Toy Story 3 in 3D at our local movie theater. What if your TV ads could get the same reaction? And more to the point, with 3D TV’s imminent arrival, could they? 

3D TV: A Reality?

3D TV – What We Know

Consumers are very familiar with 3D, based primarily on their experiences at theme parks and the movie theater. However, in-home penetration of 3D TV’s is still nascent, and if you’re like me, you’ve yet to meet the friend who has actually shelled out money for one. 

Yet, we do know something about how consumers think about 3D TV. In a recent joint Nielsen / Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing research study (disclosure: I work for Nielsen), we learned the following about consumers’ views of 3D TV: 

  • 48% said they were more engaged in a show when watching 3D programming
  • 42% said they would watch more TV if they had 3D
  • 77% said 3D TV is well suited for specialty programming like sports and movies

3D TV: Sports Programming

3D Adoption Barriers

All of this sounds great, but the study also uncovered barriers to adoption. Not surprisingly, barriers included the cost of a 3D TV set, the special glasses required, and the current lack of 3D programming. Cost and content will likely be addressed over time as scale production brings down cost and increased penetration drives more 3D programming. 

But the glasses? A real issue. Specifically, fully 89% of consumers said they didn’t like the glasses because they impede their ability to multi-task while watching TV. 

Glasses: 3D TV Adoption Barrier?

3D Ads

Ads in 3D have been around for a few years, although few people have actually seen them. 

Sobe Lifewater and Dreamworks‘ Monsters vs. Aliens both aired 3D ads in the 2009 SuperBowl. And, more recently, ESPN convinced Gillette, Sony and Pixar to produce 3D ads for the new ESPN 3D network

But, I’m not aware of any 3D ad testing that would tell us anything meaningful about how 3D ads perform versus their 2D counterparts. 

Potential 3D Ad Impact

Having said this, here are a few first thoughts about the potential of 3D advertising: 

1.  3D ads will deliver more impact than 2D ads. This is because: 

  • 3D programming is more immersive and engaging. The Nielsen research outlined above shows that many people find 3D programming much more engaging. Also, real world experience shows that the same ad scores better in cinema than it does on a home TV set. The size and scale of the cinema experience makes it more immersive, and therefore, the ads are also more effective. The same will likely be true of 3D ads.
  • There will be fewer distractions. 3D requires special glasses (at least in its current form). And special glasses reduce consumer’s ability to multi-task while watching TV and your ads. We already know that the same ad scores better in on-line video than on TV in the current environment. At least part of the reason for this, in my opinion, is that people watch on-line programming in a “lean forward” manner while watching TV in a “lean back” mode—with all of the inherent distractions therein (e.g. kids, dogs, spouses, etc.). 3D glasses will reduce multi-tasking, increase attentiveness, and improve ad performance.

2. Ad performance differences by genre will increase. If consumers watch 3D TV disproportionately for special programming like Sports and Movies, these genres will outperform other genres for TV ad performance, all things being equal. We already know that ad performance for a given category and brand can and usually does differ by genre. 3D TV has the potential to further amplify these genre effects. 

3. Emotion and Action Driven Ads will be Stand-Outs. Neural research has shown that TV is better for communicating emotion than PC or Mobile mediums. 3D promises to take this a step further thru its immersive nature. Brands with strong emotional benefit messaging are likely to play especially well. The same will be true for brands which can deliver action based benefits—cars, sports products and other action driven categories are likely to be winners in the 3D world of ads. 

3D TV: Emotional Ad Brand Communication

3D TV Ads – My Take

At the risk of being labeled a Luddite, I’m still skeptical about the adoption of 3D TV. The glasses are a real barrier. But who knows—new technologies are already promising 3D without them, although they are not without their own limitations. But, all manner of things that people have been skeptical about, including Facebook and YouTube, turned out to be huge. 

3D is yet another potential factor in an array of factors—e.g. program content, placement, form factors (TV vs. PC vs. Mobile, etc.), and now 3D—that will likely impact your brand building and communications effectiveness. 

Marketers can look at this panoply of choices as complicated and bewildering, or as I would prefer–the future golden age of advertising. Or, to put it in my son’s lingo: 

Wow, those ads are way cool!

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6 Steps for Turning Digital Chaos into Brand Equity

July 23, 2009

From my July 21 guest post on Branding Strategy Insider:

The marketing landscape is increasingly chaotic and getting more so. The old world of command and control marketing messaging is dead. And marketers are woefully unprepared to deal with this new reality. In a recent survey, over 70% of CMO’s surveyed said they feel ill-equipped to manage their brands in this new digital environment.

The explosion in new media channels, and the increasing ease with which consumers can react to, create content about, and generally discuss brands is challenging even the best marketers. How do you manage your brand in such a chaotic consumer empowered world ? How do you ensure that consumers understand your brand equity and that you drive a single minded understanding of your brand promise ?

Explosion of Media Channels

Media channels — paid and otherwise — are increasing exponentially. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, webinars, forums, reviews, etc. are only the beginning. Everyday brings new options. Who had ever heard of Stumble Upon a year ago ? Consumers ability to access these new channels, engage with other consumers, and talk back to companies has radically changed how Marketing organizations need to behave. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The Social Map below by Brian Solis shows how many different options there are–and the pace of change is fast.

The Increasingly Chaotic Digital Landscape (courtesy of Brian Solis)

The Increasingly Chaotic Digital Landscape (courtesy of Brian Solis)

6 Steps for Turning Digital Chaos into Brand Equity

Here are 6 steps you can take to ensure your brand effectively engages consumers with your brand promise in this increasingly complex and chaotic environment:

  1. Be Different, Special and Better — Let’s start with a basic truth. Your brand equity is what consumers think it is–not what you think it is. Unfortunately, too many brands have brand equities that are identical to competitors. So, the starting point is to have a brand promise, and delivery of it, that is truly differentiated–a basic truth too often ignored in today’s frenzied world of media and digital innovation.
  2. Know Your Target’s Media Habits — Consumers consume media content differently. Know your targets media habits–traditional and new, and don’t be seduced by the latest media innovation if your target isn’t participating. Map their usage. Then, listen to the communities that are conversing about your brand, understand their priorities and beliefs, and identify respected opinion leaders.
  3. Measure Marketing Contact Point Impact — Understand not just what your target is doing, but the impact of different contact points.  Quantifying the relative impact of contact points provides a data-based framework for deciding where to focus your limited resources. Word of mouth has always been important, and digital is making it even more so. Thus, it’s critical to identify your categories “amplifiers” who drive it.
  4. Equip Your Organization to Deliver the Brand Promise — Knowing your brands key contact points, you can then map organizational ownership to each of these. Many “old line” functions are being impacted by new media–e.g. PR, Customer Service, etc. Ensure that they — not just Marketing — really understand your brand promise, what it means, and how to deliver it.
  5. Organize your Team to Engage Key Media Channels / Amplifiers — Establish teams to engage with consumers across your most important digital channels. Equip them with the talent and skills to publish, respond, and engage–whatever is required to focus the discussion on your key brand equities.
  6. Create Value-Added Content — Consumers want more from brands than just a restatement of the brand promise. They want relevant and creative content that surrounds and supports it. Sometimes, they even want to create it. Do your homework to understand what kind of content your consumer wants, whether and how they can contribute, and how it can support and reinforce your brand promise.

Reactive, Proactive or Engaging ?

It’s natural to feel that some of your Marketing communications are reactive and some are proactive. But engaging your target audience over time in an intelligent dialogue that drives your brand promise is key:

  • Lead with your brand promise in new and creative ways. Engage with consumers to interpret it based on their values and needs.
  • Give consumers a voice about your brand and brand promise by enabling feedback, comments and user generated content.
  • Guide consumers back to your brand promise, even when they have a negative experience or point of view. Ask “how could we do better?”
  • Use value-added content that surrounds and supports your brand promise to make it easier to engage consumers.

The key point is this: focus your limited resources. Focus on the most impactful, highest consumption media channels. Focus on building relevant, value-added content to surround and support your brand promise. And then focus your organization on engaging with your consumers across the key media channels in a conversation that continues to reinforce, develop and deepen your brand promise. Why ? So that when consumers think of your brand, they think of one thing — how you’re different, better and more special than the other guys.

What is your brand doing to turn digital chaos into brand equity ?

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