Yahoo! buys Right Media, a smart move to defend its online ad leadership

by Charlene Li

Yahoo! announced that it would buy the remaining 80% of Right Media that it doesn't already own for $650 million today. (NYTimes.com, WSJ.com and GigaOm also have coverage).

I was briefed about this late Sunday evening by Todd Teresi, Sr. VP of Display Marketplaces at Yahoo!. Todd's title should give you a hint about why Yahoo! purchased Right Media. Right Media owns an ad exchange, which is different from an ad network. Ad networks typically aggregate ad inventory from publishers and resells it to advertisers. In contrast, an ad exchange is a marketplace where publishers and advertisers can find and execute advertising transactions, similar to what happens on a stock exchange. Ad networks could turn out to be one of the largest users of ad exchanges.

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Why direct marketing agencies have to change

This morning, Merkle announced the acquisition of an independent, Chicago-based, direct marketing agency, CFM Direct.  From Merkle’s perspective, the move bolsters their existing agency services and further strengthens their exposure in the financial services industry – CFM’s primary focus area.

But the move emphasizes an interesting trend in the direct marketing industry.  The lines between direct marketing agency and database marketing service provider are blurring.  Both are adding services or acquiring companies that boast the historical strengths of their opposite numbers.  On paper, their capabilities are beginning to look the same. 

But, they are still different beasts - one is creatively focused, the other operationally focused; one sells time, the other sells output; one is often tied to exclusivity, the other will sometimes work with all of the top firms in a given vertical; one demonstrates phenomenal account management and program management rigor, the other, well, doesn’t…

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Digital Agencies at ARF re:think

Rethink_2
The second panel of the day at ARF's re:think conference was "The
Agency of the Future" including R/GA, Avenue A|Razorfish, Nitro and
Digitas.

Continuing on the one-of-these-outfits-is-not-like-the-other theme,
Nick Law, Chief Creative Officer from R/GA shows up in short sleeve
shirt, jeans, and swooshes in stark contrast to other panelists in
standard business casual.  Interactive is the new traditional and its
agency executives appear to have followed suit, so to speak.

Get it?

Followed suit?

Ok moving on, Rance Crain of Ad Age
did a nice job of moderating and stirring up the pot.  He suggested an
alternative title for his panel as well:  "Digital:  Just Another
Silo?"  BTW, I'm guessing he's not a big fan of subservient chicken,
either.

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Research Agency CEOs at ARF re:think

Rethink
The second day of the ARF's re:think conference opened with a panels
research agency executives, called "The Research Agency of the Future"
with the CEOs of GfK, Kantar, TNS and Nielsen.  Moderator Jim Figura of
Colgate-Palmolive said it should have been called "Insights Agency of
the Future."

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Google Takes DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion

I'll admit.  I had my money on Microsoft taking DC as a technology solution to their ad serving need.  And I think if the deal were only about technology, Microsoft would have made a solid suitor.  But DoubleClick brings Google much more than an ad serving solution.  What's my take on this deal?

*Google wins.  We've been watching Yahoo! and MSN chase Google since paid search marketing exploded as a marketing channel and major revenue source for the three portals.  This deal ends the race.  With its DoubleClick purchase Google extends its capabilities into online display advertising and completes its set of online services.

*Its not about the technology.  Google already had ad serving.  This deal gives Google access to publishers outside of its current AdSense network and to behavioral data that will help them with ad targeting.

*Now Google can move offline.  I agree with Charlene Li on this one.  With the online space locked up, Google can focus on maturing its current offline efforts and on defining its next moves into traditional channels.

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Transforming employees into brand advocates

Using employees to make your brand more customer centric emerged as a key theme in our Marketing Forum.  Cindy Commander, an analyst for Forrester's CMO Group, recently conducted some research in this area.  She Cindy noted that Bain found that 80% of companies believe that they're delivering a superior experiences to their customers, but only 8% of customers agree!  Employees are central to delivering a strong, consistent customer experience.  But only 26% of customer experience professionals think that employees share a vision of the customer.  So, there's a huge incentive to bringing employees into the brand.

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Making the best use of mobile

Mobile marketing.  It's new.  Some marketers are happy to experiment while others look on with skepticism until the channel matures.  Christine Overby and Charlie Golvin helped Forum participants navigate this new channel:  they're like peanut butter and jelly - Christine comes at mobile from the marketing side and Charlie approaches marketing from the mobile side.  Both believe that mobile is a viable marketing channel, but marketers need to embrace the warts in the mobile experience as features not shortcomings.

The crowd at the Forum, not surprisingly, is ahead of the curve in their use of mobile:  texting, mobile Internet, and applications.  But, Forrester data shows that only a third of mobile phone owners send or receive a text message, and only 11% use the mobile Internet.  What do early adopters look like? No surprise:  they're younger (almost 80% of 18-24 year olds use any form of messaging). Surprisingly and related to what I wrote earlier that the US was behind in their use of QR codes, use of the mobile Internet in the US and Europe is equivalent. 

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Have You Ever Considered Yourself Switched On? Futurecasting Personas with Organic


Organic begn he session by asking the quetion: Have You Ever Cnsidered Yoursef Switched On? To answer this question, there were 10 questions that required an answer:
Have you ever...

Sent a picture through your mobile phone?
Captured videos on your phone? In the alterntive, captured videos at all?
been to Second Life?
Do you get more News frm RSS than CNN?
Have you unlocked an achievement on XBox Live?
Do you know what an achievement is on Xbox?
Have you reserved a zipcar?
Know what Zipcar is?
Got a Pirius through Zipcar?
Moved a TV Show from DVR to Ipod?
Had emails read to you while driving?

The point of determining if you are switched on? You could be part of the switched on Persona. The Persona of the future is the way that Organic suggests that we move...things are changing fast and the Persona of today could soon be the Persona of the past. Make sure that Persona you are developing is looking toward the future.

How?

Here are their suggestions, which are good ones even if developing Personas is not part of your strategy:

Invest in a digital strategy

Study the trends affecting your customers

Get saavy about emerging platforms, media and technolog.

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Kia Motors shows the heart of B2B marketing

Ian Bevis explained Kia's incredible growth in the auto industry and shared some humorous ads, but the more interesting story is the way they treat their relationship with dealers.  Kia needs to understand their dealers in addition to understanding their end customers because if the dealers don't sell their products, neither the Kia nor the dealers make money.  How do they build their relationships with dealers?  First, they understand dealers' primary motivation:  they're smart business people who want to make money.  Second, they leverage Kia's Web site:  e-leads are up, total traffic is up, and no surprise, sales are up, too.  Third, they shift employees around between the sales and marketing groups.  B2B marketing, like B2C marketing, needs to be an emotional proposition and needs grounding in knowledge of the customer.

Delivering Great Customer Experiences

Kerrybodineanalystphoto_sma_2

Principal Analyst Kerry Bodine provided the Forum audience this morning with an overview of what makes great customer experiences.  It requires employees with the right skills to build these experiences, processes to drive them forward, and an organizational culture ruthlessly focused around the consumer.

For marketers at companies just starting on a path towards customer-centricity, Kerry provided these first baby-steps:

1) Make this your mantra: “truly understand customer needs”

2) Look at your Web analytics log files

3) Listen to your customer service calls -- Find out what problems customers are reporting, and what kind of experiences they’re having with your call center.

4) Bring your customers in for usability testing -- this can be simple and informal

5) Observe your customers in the wild -- “channel you inner anthropologist”

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