What’s happening (that’s important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous “Fortnights”, go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week – send me a mail.)
I'm glad to see more quantification of online ads' impact for branding. But I lament that this kind of story is still headline-worthy. Why is it still so surprising that online advertising is effective and helps sell products?
After all, I wrote about the first Cross Media Optimization Study (XMOS) that documented the brand impact of the lowly banner ad for Dove Nutrium . . . when was that . . . must have been about 2001. And scores more of these studies have come out since. In my research with marketing mix modeling vendors, I hear that digital is readily quantified and has an important role in the mix.
So can we get beyond nonsensical biases about "banner blindness" and acknowledge the reality that ads don't have to be a Cannes-winning video extravaganza to get the message across?
Julianne Pepitone's review of the upcoming US Supreme Court case American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. versus Aereo nicely covers the case's implications on two big industries, old and new: television and cloud computing. (P.S. Thanks for the shout-out to me, Julianne!) The potential impact on the TV industry is pretty clear, but the cloud? I'm not a lawyer, but the issue is likely to turn on the difference between the copy being in the cloud or in your home.
In 1984, the Supreme Court upheld the right of individuals to make a recording of a television program for their private viewing in what has become known as the Betamax case. So far, lower courts have used this precedent, in combination with Aereo's clever technical design, to say Aereo is legal. For the Supreme Court to rule against Aereo, it will have to find that some aspect of their model is different from a VCR.
And there it is: The VCR sits in your living room, while Aereo is in the cloud. No doubt ABC and the broadcast industry will make the case that this is a crucial difference and since Aereo is the entity sitting on these copies of their programming, Aereo is infringing on their copyright. It will be fascinating to see the arguments in detail and see how the Court views them.
Julianne notes in her article:
If the court rules against Aereo, the startup and its supporters warn the ramifications could put other services that use remote, or cloud-based, storage -- Google Drive, Dropbox, remote DVRs and many more -- at risk. Any of those outcomes depend on the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Sure, the scarcity of inventory and the premium associated with professional video content drive caution and reluctance among sellers. But in a few years, short- and long-form video content, both user-generated and broadcast-native, will be bought programmatically in an inevitable takeover of automated trading that has already started today – and will work all the way up to TV buying. Two forces make programmatic buying unavoidable:
Traditional buying cannot cope with audience fragmentation across devices. The explosion of new platforms and ways of viewing videos will continue dispersing audiences, making it increasingly difficult to reach the desired number of viewers through linear TV alone. And many of these new platforms are digital, enabling a break from broad age/gender ratings buys and a move to addressing ads to individuals. Traditional manual buying approaches simply can’t cope with this volume of video sources and the shift to addressable advertising.
Predictions about native advertising’s medium-term impact are both short-sighted and simplistic.
In 1973, the Wall Street Journal quoted a professor: “Academic politics is the most vicious…because the stakes are so low.” Thereafter, the idea (that the intensity of a dispute is inversely proportional to its stakes) was named after the professor: Sayre’s Law.
Sayre’s law applies very well to native advertising. According to Forrester data, digital advertising dollars are today some 20% of traditional advertising dollars. Of those scarce digital ad dollars, something far less than 10% goes to anything that could be characterized as native advertising.
Perhaps that’s why the dispute has been so vitriolic (at least, by advertising’s standards).
The day after the New York Times launched a redesign to facilitate more native advertising, Tom Foremski, a media commentator, said: “Native advertising is the world’s worst idea and I can’t believe the New York Times management is so gullible and clueless in agreeing to its publication.”
Are consumers getting their video entertainment from different source? Yes, largely migrating from cable to telecom providers like Verizon and AT&T. This has little to no impact on how marketers plan and buy their TV campaigns.
Are consumers filling some of their video entertainment hours with online streaming sources? Sure, but for the most part, online video viewers are -- and remain -- heavy linear TV viewers, using new sources to get more of the entertainment they love (as I documented in this report last fall). Some younger consumers are delaying getting a pay TV subscription of any type, and perhaps they may never. But then they will fill their entertainment hours with video from Vevo, YouTube, HuluPlus, etc., where advertisers will have ample opportunity to reach them (oh, yes and some ad-free Netflix, but then, ad-free DVD viewing is fading away).
First, the good news: Mobile marketing is maturing within organizations. More marketers than ever have mobile programs in place, and they are shifting from testing to “see what happens” to the more strategic, and Tim Gunn-recommended, “make it work.”
Now for the bad news: Marketers have to demonstrate whether their mobile programs are, in fact, working. And in a still-evolving industry that lacks measurement standards, coupled with marketers who are just starting to measure strategically, this is no easy task.
But it can be done! Our advice to marketers is this: Start by benchmarking against yourself. Here are the three steps to help you set the right baselines:
Set up a mobile dashboard. You’re going to need a clear view of your data to develop consistent measures. And for mobile, this requires a feature-rich dashboard with the right level of granularity. What does your mobile dashboard need to have? New filters like operating system (OS) and app version, new data sources like app review sentiment, and cross-channel measurement capabilities to demonstrate mobile’s full impact.
Establish your baselines. So many variables impact the success of any one company’s mobile program — from its stage of mobile maturity to its audience to the campaign's creative. To make sure you land on the right baseline for your company, create a measurement plan that defines which KPIs matter for your goal and what the right frequency of tracking is based on the longevity of the program or introduction of new factors.
Marketers see great potential in Chinese mobile consumers for three reasons:
It's the largest smartphone market in the world, and it's growing fast. According to Forrester’s global smartphone forecast, China’s smartphone installed base will pass the 500-million mark in 2014, more than the US and Western Europe combined.
The number of mobile Internet users has skyrocketed in China. It surpassed the number of PC Internet users in June 2012 and is growing twice as fast as the number of overall Internet users. In 2013, the mobile Internet population accounted for more than two thirds of the total online population in the country.
Chinese consumers appear to be among the most sophisticated mobile users in the world. According to our Consumer Technographics® data, more than half of online metro Chinese mobile users access the Internet via their devices several times a day, and a quarter daily. These numbers are higher than those of even major metropolitan cities in the US and UK. Metro China also takes the lead in advanced mobile activities, including social networking, downloading and using apps, purchasing products, and checking finances.
Gross rating points (GRPs) have been debated in the digital world for years — census level impressions should crush a panel-based measurement like GRPs — until you run into the raft of pesky technical issues: bots, viewability, server-side versus client-side measurement, et al. Meanwhile, the big money (i.e., TV) continues to be traded on GRPs, and with the advent of Nielsen OCR and comScore VCE, it appeared that digital was ready to throw in the towel and trade on GRPs, at least for online video.
But the story doesn't end there. GRPs, being a panel-based metric, have become more and more vulnerable as audience fragmentation decreases the number of viewers for any individual show: first small local broadcast markets, then low-rated cable networks, and now the general decline in audience size across the TV spectrum. This leaves a lot of audience unmeasured by Nielsen but still with intrinsic value to the advertiser, if only you could find another "currency."
MAGNAGlobal's most recent Media Economy Report takes one of the most direct stabs into the heart of this venerable metric, as reported in this Mediapost article: MAGNA calls for shifting to impression-based trading for local TV ad inventory.
I believe this is a harbinger of the end of GRPs. As I said in my April 2013 report Digital Disruption Rattles the TV Ad Market, disruption won't likely be a sudden, massive event but will begin at the margins in areas like spot advertising, which are smaller dollars and thus less risk to the advertiser's campaign results if a new technique isn't successful.
Last year, when attending my tenth Congress in a row, I wrote that MWC 2013 would be more global and more disruptive than ever before. I believe the same will be true this year, with 2014 bringing a very important milestone in the shift to mobile: an install base of more than 2 billion smartphones globally. Mobile is transforming every industry by offering global reach and the ability to offer contextual services. That’s why we'll see many more marketers, agencies, business executives, and strategists attend the traditional telecom show.
Gone are the days when MWC was about operators' supremacy. As my colleague Dan Bieler summed it up in this blog post, telcos are increasingly being backed into a corner. I still remember this quote from Arun Sarin, the former CEO of Vodafone, in the Financial Times in November 2007: “Just the simple fact we have the customer and billing relationship is a hugely powerful thing that nobody can take away from us.” Really? Well, in the meantime, Apple and Google have created two powerful mobile platforms that have disrupted entire industries and enabled new entrants to connect directly to customers.
From a marketing and strategy perspective, I'd categorize the likely announcements in three main areas:
1) The Asian Device Spec Fashion Week: Getting Lost In Device Translation