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The Impractical Holy Grail of Integrated Multi-Screen Campaigns

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Well he we are, 2013, and we’re still talking about how next year is going to be the big year for mobile and integrated campaigns. I feel like I’ve been reading the same article on this topic every year for the past 4 years.

  • 10/26/2012: “The Year of Mobile‚ĶMeasurement” – ClickZ
  • 4/13/2011: “Mobile Measurement Is A Customer Intelligence Imperative” – Forrester
  • 5/28/2010: “2011 Will Be Big For Mobile — No, Really” – MediaPost
  • 12/29/2009: “Mobile Advertising: 5 Things You Need to Know to Succeed in 2010″ – Mashable
  • So let’s discuss why, 4 years later, the industry still seems to be struggling to find its stride with mobile campaigns. The first and most obvious answer is a limitation in technology that executives and some marketers simply don’t understand. Boardroom Powerpoint slides need to be able to compare OOH, TV, Print, Online, and Mobile all in one neat little chart tied up with a ribbon. CEOs and CMOs demand this simplicity so that they can make quick and final decisions about media spends. The major issue here is that the quarterly planning meeting represents a fraction of the time and effort it takes to plan, implement, and report on a digital campaign, mobile or otherwise. How can we empower business leaders to make informed and educated decisions about digital media budgets without bringing them into the dirt to understand the online ad ecosystem? Well, we can’t. The idiosyncrasies of ad servers, cookies, in-app browsers, time-lag to conversion, and multi-screen behavior are too great to summarize in executive form. Until marketers start demanding a new perspective at evaluating ROI of digital media spend, mobile will continue to look like a bad investment to the black and white decision making tactics of the C-level executive.

    Part of the challenge in getting executives comfortable with mobile spend is that Marketers themselves don’t really understand mobile– at least not in the context of the consumer. There is an intrinsic problem with the way the industry is trying to approach integrated campaigns. In a Nielsen Survey released this week, 61% of respondents indicated that they needed “Consistent metrics across screens” before they could feel comfortable with mobile spend. But why? In what world do you think you can compare a mobile and TV ad apples to apples? In a Starcom study released earlier this year, we learned that consumers react to TV advertising much differently than In-stream video advertising. “45% hav[e] a negative attitude to [commercials in digital format] vs. 39% who had negative opinions of ads shown on TV (eMarketer). What’s even more telling is that 39% of consumer respondents were neutral to TV ads vs. only 30% to in-stream ads. This means that people on average have a stronger response to digital video ads whether positive or negative vs. TV.

    And these numbers don’t even take into account how response to mobile video specifically compares to that from TV ads. One study suggest that “Mobile video was 4.8x more effective than online and 5.8x more effective than TV” (AdColony/Nielsen). If you’re a good brand marketer, right now you’ll be thinking “right, but how do I know that these insights apply to my consumers, for my product category, in my industry?” Well the answer is, you can’t. Not unless you have the budget to support the type of time consuming, robust, and expensive research that makes it easy to win more budget in your quarterlies. Its rather ironic that the most efficient path to gaining more budget for mobile spend is gaining budget for consumer research. But there is no perceived ROI on these types of research efforts, given that digital marketers are still stuck in a world where executives demand revenue ROI on practically anything they spend online.

    Despite this lack of tact when approaching mobile spends, there is still a strong push for innovative and successful integrated campaigns. So if mobile really is a different beast that will never have the same apples to apples metrics as other media, how can we move forward? It goes back to clearly understanding the user experience of mobile content consumption. Our mobile devices are much closer to home than our TV ever was. While TV watchers have become accepting of commercials over the years, marketers will need re-focus on the consumer’s interest when it comes to mobile rather than their own business needs. The ever in-demand high HHI, college educated, consumer prone for digital transactions has their phone with them in bed when they wake up, in the bathroom stall when they take a break at work, and when they have dinner with their spouse. When you disrupt a television viewing experience, that’s all you do. When you disrupt a mobile content consumption experience, you run the risk of disrupting the personal lives of your customers. No one wants to be reminded that black friday is coming up when they are out with their friends and just quickly checking the local weather.

    Successful Integrated marketers will understand that moving the needle is not determined by measuring and optimizing channels individually, but rather in tandem. Success has always and will always hinge on crafting a clear and impactful message that is made available and engaging across all media channels. To measure this impact, we have to think holistically, using consumer research to measure the overall impact our campaigns make. And on a personal note, marketers must stop pitting their media agencies against each other to see which will take the biggest risks with your brand to give you the most Powerpoint friendly stat. Instead, marketers must guide their agencies to be great partners and collaborators, resisting the temptation to punish an agency at every bump in performance. When all is said and done, Integrated campaigns are about integrated content. The content consumers want on their TV is different than the content they want on their mobile. The way consumers respond to content also varies between channels. The only thing that is the same between them is the consumer. So, evaluating success of these integrated campaigns should also start with the consumer.

Using Content Marketing To Get an Interview

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If there is one thing I’ve been ranting about on Twitter, (actually, I rant about a myriad of different things) it’s been trying to get the few marketers that follow me to realize that content marketing is the most powerful tool in one’s arsenal to create lasting connections with customers. So to kill two birds with one stone– I’m going to review the basics of why content marketing is the most cost-effective tool in a marketer’s arsenal while using this post to get my resume in front of potential employers.

First, the basic principle. With 6+ years of experience using paid media to try to “move the needle”, I can tell you that with the exception of a few exciting product categories, there aren’t many brands that can get the kind of tangible response from a paid impression that they demand of their media teams. Sure, SEM has a high ROI and is ripe for advanced optimization techniques. But in every marketing plan, there has to be attention paid to the top of the funnel– that is, creating relationships with NEW consumers who will eventually be paying customers. Very rarely will someone search for your brand and convert immediately into a paying customer. And it’s true, you may see higher CTRs on remarketing campaigns, or more engaged visitors from PPC social ads on Facebook and Twitter. But more often than not you’re simply annoying your existing customers or driving traffic from people that would’ve visited your site anyway. To truly grow your business, you have to find a way to turn a complete stranger into a consumer engaged with your brand.

So how do we achieve this? Well for years, it was simple. Spend $15MM, buy premium paid media on TV, OOH, and Print, and essentially reach all of America with your advertising. This worked, because there simply wasn’t as much noise to compete against in the media, and people actually watched the commercials on the TV. They had no way to combat the high frequency we achieved through other channels, and had no idea that we were driving up or measuring brand recall. In today’s age, blowing through $300K to put a roadblock on the Yahoo homepage and a one day takeover on YouTube don’t have the same effect they did even 4 years ago. The display media industry used a tried and true model for the past decade to duplicate what Ad Agencies made infamous in the 50s and 60s: Great copy + Mass Media = ROI. What we’re seeing now, is that modern post-digital consumers are sick of the annoying and disruptive advertising that is plaguing the internet. “..Internet users want to learn about a product through content” (iMedia Connection), not through an interstitial that prevents them from watching the latest cat video. And even if you do make these ad buys, as many as 1 in 5 consumers will use Ad-Blocking software to ignore your ad (Quartz), and people are less likely to pay attention to your ad even if they do see it.

The good news is, this trend presents an opportunity, not a problem. Every brand that has the money for these kinds mass digital media campaigns already has a social footprint and the beginnings of a content marketing strategy. All you really need is someone on your team or at your agency that understands what content is useful, interesting, or entertaining for your consumers. Then, you need paid media professionals who understand the latest and greatest ways to disseminate your content through native advertising. This is an uphill battle, because CMOs and CEOs only understand ROI as it relates to a gagillion visits in 1 day or week from one media buy. In the content marketing world, it’s not about how many people view each post, it’s about how much traffic your diversity of content drives in aggregate month over month. Every content item you release has returns over time. Take this meager attempt at a blog for example. My first post Do Display Ads Influence Search was posted in April and drove 22 visits in the first two days. But according to Google Analytics, it’s driven an additional 25 visits since then. That means that over 50% of the traffic that I received from this content came significantly after the initial post. This is not a unique trend to my blog. On Tumblr for example, we know that “Almost a third (29%) of all reblogs take place more than 30 days after the initial post”. (MarketingProfs.com) So, content marketing is an investment that has real long-term returns, not instantly available PowerPoint bullet stats.

In the end, learning how to utilize content marketing is simply learning how to communicate in today’s world. More people are relying on news and entertainment they are finding in their feeds, and less on portal pages that tell them what they should care about. Marketers have to update their thinking to get into consumer’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest feeds. So that the message your brand conveys to users is consumed in the same way they engage with other media. If you need someone on your team who understands these principles and can lead a team to create returns through these strategies, why not take 5 minutes to look at my experience? If you’re not hiring and you like this post, I certainly wouldn’t mind if you took the time to share it with a friend or colleague in the industry. And congratulations, you are a stranger that I just created a connection with using content marketing.

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