The announcment that Yahoo is buying ad network Blue Lithium comes at a ponderous time for me since I'm just wrapping up the research for Forrester's forecast of Interactive Marketing Spending and (report is due Sept 28). Per that research, I'm finding that indeed interactive budgets are on their way up with marketers (still) most interested in search and (newly interested in) online video. Display ads continue to be a part of almost all online campaigns and yet no marketer has much to say about them. Marketers and vendors alike have commented that display ads as a medium have undersold themselves since the early 2000s. Basically display ads have capabilities that no marketer knows/cares about. Or that has not yet been fully exploited.
I'm right in the middle of researching Forrester's Interactive Marketing Forecast -- our big sizing report which forecasts spending in different interactive channels five years into the future. In addition to leveraging a quantitative study of marketers (which some of you helped with -- thanks!), I'm also conducting a series of interviews with media providers, vendors, agencies and interactive marketing experts to help me prioritize trends and build out an accurate market sizing.
Last week as part of my research I spoke to Jim Nail, ex-Forrester analyst and current CMO of TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony and Jeff Lanctot, VP of Media and Client Services for Avenue A/Razorfish. Both independently mentioned a key theme defining the future of interactive marketing which I've been noodling on since my conversations with them. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but the theme is that of immersive marketing -- that is the idea of creating marketing programs that:
Create a cohesive and all-encompassing experience across any channel where the customer is.
I've had a number of recent client inquiries about search engine optimization (SEO), so I thought it would be worth sharing some of the best practices I've assembled.
First off, just a little color on the role SEO is currently playing in the search marketing landscape. I always recommend investing in SEO before paid search because it: 1) http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,39441,00.html one-time investment (although you'll have some cost for ongoing maintenance of your site once you get it optimized) that continues to pay off for years and 2) It takes a few months to get your site optimized and start seeing results. So get your SEO started, buy some paid search ads to drive immediate traffic and test keywords, and in 6 months or so, you should have enough data and experience to have some pretty good integrated SEO/SEM programs running together.
My take is that this is all much ado about nothing. Why?
*Google is an easy target. Google is so large, and has seen such rapid growth over the last 3 years, that we all (competitors, consumers, government officials, press, industry analysts) can't help but be a little suspicious of them. And maybe a little jealous of their wealth and presence.
Forrester encourages B2B marketers to use online video, recorded Web seminars, and other rich media to educate, train, and persuade buyers. Through testimonials and case studies, video creates a lasting impression and emotional bond that is important in business marketing. It’s also less risky to experiment with this medium with the cost of recording decreasing.
But how far can B2B marketers push video from traditional interview or demonstration formats into non-traditional word-of-mouth? Clients see consumer-oriented video ads on YouTube and ask if we see viral video work in business marketing. The answer? We don’t see much.
Exceptions do arise: Scalent VP of Marketing and friend, Kevin Epstein, sent me an April Fool’s joke video his team put together, and – on a whim – decided to post on YouTube. Kevin wrote about this decision on his blog and I asked Forrester’s marketing research team to look and weigh in. Our take: video may become the digital tchotchke: logo-emblazoned pens, toys, and other useless items companies give to prospects or hand out at tradeshows.
As the day continues, the talk of a Microsoft/Yahoo! union is sounding more and more specious. None-the-less I thought I'd weigh in with my take on what this pairing would mean for interactive marketers.
I still think Yahoo and MS are wrong to continue to chase Google. If that is what this potential merger about it just seems really naïve. Billions of dollars to try to “catch up” to a company that will only continue to out-innovate them.
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.
This past Tuesday, AOL put in a 6.3 billion kronor (about $900 million) bid for Swedish ad network TradeDoubler. Although TradeDoubler's board voted to accept the bid, one of its largest share holders rejected the bid as undervalued. The take among the investment community is that this is AOL's attempt to expand advertising revenues now that it has moved away from its subscription-based business model. While I think this is certainly true, I find a few other angles of the potential acquisition more interesting:
AdAge just announced Gino Bona, a sales exec out of Portsmouth, NH as the winner of the NFL's "create your own Super Bowl commercial" contest. And the NFL is not the only sponsor of viewer-created commercials. Chevy and Frito-Lay sponsored similar contests for their own Super Bowl spots.
Then last week the news broke about the entrepreneurial "J.P" who was seeking corporate sponsors to pay him to propose to his girlfriend during a Super Bowl commercial. The notion of using consumers to create ads isn't new and clearly consumers are actively creating their own media. But these last few stories got me to thinking: What happens now that not only are consumers creating media, but consumer actually are media? Reality TV is huge. And I would bet most of us have some fairly close connection with someone who has been on a reality TV show (my ex-boyfriend was fraternity brothers with the guy who "won" ABC's second season of "The Bachelorette.").