Posts tagged ‘targeted’

taking a break

Somebody’s after me, I can’t pretend to be
Something I know I’m not
And when they come for me – I’ll just let them be
‘Cause all that I need today, I need today

In the linearly scheduled TV world, in addition to pitching products and services, commercial breaks provided viewers time for a nature break, or other quick activities.

Recently, at a partner conference in Paris, it became painfully clear to me that mobile phones are the next really big target for advertising. Yes, I had intellectualized the acquisitions of AdMob etc. but what I heard, really internalized for me the importance of this very substantial media transition.

Media research has shown that though more new media platforms are created, there seems to be more time devoted to all of them. In fact, at this conference several things clicked:

  1. Integrated backoffice applications are evolving to integrate the distribution infrastructure with the revenue generating and management  aspects of the business.
  2. These applications have a very IT-centric approach, agnostic to medium underpinning, and they treat both content and transactional metadata as – data. All measurable, scalable and manageable over an IP network.
  3. The mobile device is a very personal, and personalizable appliance. It is with the user on average about 14 hours per day. A very captive, targetable audience.

So, do we need scheduled breaks from media? Or, are we destined to be personally targeted for interruption whenever nature, or the advertiser calls.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 18, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment


Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US readers.

Look into the eyeball my friend
Precious man can’t you understand
Look into the eyeball
Tell me what can you see
What can’t you see
You keep it going on
You keep it going on

It’s all about eyeballs. But not in the way we think.

We have become accustomed to thinking in advertising that more eyeballs equates to more money. That for any given CPM, more ‘M’ = more $. That was, and is true for broadcasting. One could extrapolate the same thinking to the evolving unicast world, and that would be a reasonable assumption except that it doesn’t work that way.

But there is one other really big thing. Distribution costs.

  • RF transmission –  Once you have the transmitter, licenses, business infrastructure in place, the cost of distribution is essentially fixed.
  • Print – Production costs are fixed, as may well be distribution costs for certain types, but essentially, more subscribers = more paper & ink and more delivery/postage. Therefore the cost of distribution is baseline plus cost per subscriber per content delivery instance.
  • Cable & Satellite – Fixed base cost (satellite & cables), but then a smaller cost per subscriber to get the Set Top Box and connection established. Not a recurring charge.
  • Web Pages – Fixed cost per quantum of users for servers and infrastructure, after that the bandwidth paid by the subscriber.
  • Web/Mobile Video – As per web pages, except when they all have the audacity to get ‘what they want, when they want it, where they want it’ and then you have to unicast-stream the bandwidth intense content. At that point, your cost per subscriber goes way up.

So. Is having lots of eyeballs really more important than having the right eyeballs? Depends upon who you are. As a broadcaster, it just gets cheaper and generally the advertising becomes proportionately more lucrative. If you cannot attract the right ‘CPMs’ (and who does?*) you lose huge economies of scale in a unicast world, and the costs of providing the service far outweighs the advertising revenue that those eyeballs generate. What’s more, not all traffic is equal. For example, surfers who arrive via search are predominantly “one-and-done” visitors, not necessarily the reliable well defined demographic that most content owners seek.

Perhaps Murdoch is right in moving away from Google and leveraging Bing instead. This is akin to moving out of the expensive shopping mall rental when you have a known brand… the theory being that shoppers will follow, they are qualified buyers and you get to keep more of your own money.

“What’s the point of having someone come [to us] occasionally who likes a headline they see in Google?” Mr. Murdoch asked in his recent Sky News interview. “Sure we go out and say ‘We’ve got so many millions of visitors, you had better advertise’ and so on. The fact is, there’s not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable.”

Unique IP distribution is expensive.

Be careful of eyeballs. Yes you need them to validate viability, but too many eyes watching your every move may be bad for business.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

*Ad networks incrementally deliver pennies for every thousand more visitors that publishers attract. Most ad networks deliver between 16 cents and $1 for a thousand and have large unsold inventories.

November 26, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

the seven pillars of media

And I see things
That no one would ever glimpse
As your eyes roll back
And the real party begins
And I feel things
That I’m not supposed to feel
As I reassure myself
That I’m nothing but a jewel upon your crown

This week I discuss a new tool that I have developed in exploring mediums. It enables classification of mediums from both the perspective of consumers as well as that of the business and marketplace. I have called it the 7 pillars, because I am unashamedly trading off T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the themes of change, challenge and sustainability contained therein.

This framework contains seven pillars which support the media business and is weighted to look at things from a consumer perspective. Why? In the end, media is about the consumer, the audiences, demographics and psychometrics to which the consumer belongs, to their purchasing power and their consequent aggregated ability to endorse or demote marketplace media preferences.

Back in April, 2009 in why target, I made reference to the fact that consumers have three things to trade with a media company:

  1. Privacy (P) – by identifying their attributes, consumers add value by enabling the medium to build monetization cases by clearly measuring and demonstrating value to purchasers of advertising and sellers of content.
  2. Money ($) – either directly through paid subscriptions or subsidies, or indirectly through purchasing advertised content, goods and services.
  3. Time (T) – the amount of time that they spend with the medium and thus building equity in the audiences that are subsequently monetized.

Each of these are shown in the table below…

Consumer Dimensions

Business Attributes

I have started mapping these attributes across clusters of similar mediums, and present TV mediums as the first in this series.

The Lounge room TV experience

Clearly displayed is the technical dominance of and consumer potential that IPTV promises as a medium. However, being better does not count too much if you don’t have market share, and this is where the traditional players of cable, satellite and terrestrial TV shine. Note that IPTV encapsulates my thinking on both walled-garden as well as Over The Top, but in all cases, this is the ‘lounge-room’ experience.

Each of these mediums displays a footprint that broadly reflects the ongoing business model viability ‘at present’. It shows comparative capabilities and offers a quick visual to suggest potential areas of competitive improvement.

It is not perfect, but it does provide a very useful discussion tool, a common language for dialog and a real way to connect with the customer who is now driving the business.

I have analyzed all mediums in greater detail, and explained my justification for the scoring. These scores will be updated each quarter with new observations, press coverage and anecdotal information.

Change is certain, but guessing the future is still very precarious – especially in the media business. As stated by Edgar R. Fiedler “He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.”

Nonetheless, it is a tool that hopefully you’ll find useful.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

October 29, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

why is identity important?

…I don’t know, I don’t know.
Stick around, and it may show,
But I don’t know, I don’t know.

Identity management in media has been largely related to implementations of digital rights management, and that has been primarily driven by a need to protect, track or otherwise contain content.

This largely makes sense. In a world where consumers acquired media from distributers, the role of rights was to equate ‘distribution rights’ in its many varied forms with contractual rights and specifically with money. In fact, I have often argued that Digital Asset Management was really a digital manifestation of linking virtual content to metadata, and what really defined ‘Asset’ in this equation was not the concept of bits as the asset, but rather the idea for really treating it (the content) as a financial asset i.e. it had to have rights and usage very carefully built into the system.

But I digress.

As consumers started to acquire content, the need to track rights became ever so much more important. Those in the industry know that many large content producers used to track distribution rights in spreadsheets. Often those sheets were out of sync with the reality of their filed paper contracts. Try doing that with millions of users, instead of scores of distributors… and you see why identity starts getting real important, real fast.

As the IT bods started playing up the importance of identity management for all things security-wise and finance-wise, things like single sign-on became increasingly in vogue. Correspondingly, other uses for identity became quite apparent.

What of all of the media properties and websites where people log-in for access or opt-out for contact?

Think of all the disparate databases…

What if you could aggregate that information and target some ads to the same person regardless of screen?

Identity Management suddenly seems really attractive.

But is it really necessary?

Sorry, but at this juncture, not really. If you’re laying down the infrastructure for a purely digital media experience, then sure, but if you’re trying to put the toothpaste back into your corporate tube – probably too late – unless of course you want to indulge in personally targeted advertising services… but then, who’d buy them?

While it may be the dream of marketers, the science of understanding how to sell personalized ads is yet to be defined, and the scalability is currently beyond comprehension, pricing, measurability and valuation.

At this stage, most media companies still have difficulty in targeting by geographic, by demographic, by psychometric and defining their audience valuations in all but the simplest terms. When the marketing community really needs to sell specific items of garbage to me, at my identity address, then these issues will be solved. Oh wait… what was that latest spam for working from home? You mean its already happening?

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

September 3, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

lots of bits, not just bigs

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

The universe is composed of gas, dust, stars — billions upon billions of stars. At least that’s what Carl Sagan impressed upon me during the formative years of my scientific thinking.

Five years ago, Larry Light, McDonald’s chief marketing officer, stated at AdWatch:Outlook 2004, “We don’t need one big execution of a big idea.  We need one big idea that can be used in a multidimensional, multilayered and multifaceted way.” While he may not have been specifically talking about audience fragmentation, the point is still insightful and relevant to today’s marketplace.

Fragmentation should come as no surprise to anyone in this space, it is the inevitability of choice. But it does create operational difficulties for organizations that have not evolved as quickly as the market. Years ago it was important enough and cost-effective to hire one person to manage the ads in a particular program reel. Their job was to ensure that each expensive ad got to air, no matter what. Today, marketing it is not about one big expensive ad, but about many, many cheaper ads, which in aggregate garner the same audience and hopefully at least as much revenue as that single expensive ad of long ago.

The average cost of the transaction has been lowered over the years due to automation. And, correspondingly, the economics of advertising has changed as a result of technology. Pushing content closer to the customer leads to the following:

  • If you cannot place the ad, instruct it, and manage the content cheaply and effectively, then your margin erodes
  • Organizations have consolidated in the hope of getting bigger audiences and inventories. As a result, they have to handle more diverse ads. Unfortunately, during these acquisitions, they have inherited cost structures that are not conducive to delivering multi-media campaigns… the very reason for acquisition in the first place. The only way to drive efficiencies is to automate.
  • The only way to automate effectively across mediums is to have a common infrastructure. You cannot have different workflows for different mediums in a consolidated business: it simply costs too much.

Till now, the industry focus has largely been on solving the technical infrastructural problems that have emerged as a result of the digital transition and audience expectations. A quick look at most conference agendas confirms this reality.

Increasingly, the realization that sales organizations and research departments must evolve concurrently with multimedia content delivery models is coming to the fore.  These organizational disciplines must consider targeted marketing, ROI measurement, advertainment strategies, interactive television, pay-for-play and the effects of device proliferation on consumers. More than ever, media organizations must engage in the marketing and promotion of their own capabilities, and their own inventories, more than ever before in a bid to retain audiences.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

August 13, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

who, or what is the target?

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

Today, a target audience largely depends upon the capabilities, processes and systems employed by the medium doing the targeting. The following summarizes the primary marketing (targeting) approaches.

  1. Demographic – This is traditional targeting of consumers based upon commonly accepted media currencies such as their age, gender, income and ethnicity.
  2. Geo-targetingTargets a consumer in a certain geographic area using location data mined from the ISP or IP address. This is a powerful tool for local businesses to leverage new rich-media ads. This approach enables the display of local product inventories to customers and is especially valuable for promotional and impulse type buys.
  3. BehavioralSometime called ‘profiling’ and it works by tracking the actions large numbers of users as they surf the web and aggregates their behavior for trends. These patterns signal behaviors that become the basis for targeting and often include purchase history. For example: A visit to an on-line car site can be the basis for serving an auto ad after a consumer moves onto a non-auto-related site. Behavioral targeting allows a Web publisher, for example, to charge premium rates for a luxury-car ad even on a lightly visited site about needlepoint, especially if the user’s previous Web activity shows an interest in buying an automobile.
  4. ContextualThis matches the ad to the content actually being consumed regardless of format. For example, an article about buying homes serves up an insurance ad or a documentary film on animals provides a good place to inject a public service ad for animal protection.
  5. AffinityThis is very similar to contextual but tends to match ad to the theme or genre of the published content. For example, a digital camera marketer may choose to advertise on sites or video channels dedicated to consumer electronics.
  6. DaypartThis is used to focuses on people’s work and lifestyle schedules. For example, serving ads for coffee to commuters between 7-10 a.m. This type of targeting also works well for impending product releases and roadblock campaigns, but is generally directed to an audience to increase the candidate consumer base as prospects for more refined future targeting. Alternatively, it may also me used in conjunction with other approaches to refine those consumers being targeted.
  7. Purchase-basedTracks the purchase history of users to establish trends, much like behavioral. People who bought one brand’s shoes might be interested in more of the same or of another brand.
  8. RetargetingAims to locate consumers who dropped off midway through the path to a purchase and serve them a new ad in the hopes they will complete the purchase. Called remarketing in the offline world and sometimes classified as part of behavioral targeting online.

Note that the above approaches, along with their highlighted examples make no mention of medium specific subtleties. Often these have been institutionalized by work practices or by consumer-medium interactions, but they have also been imposed by the constraints of the medium’s infrastructure capabilities. Consequently, the more different mediums consolidated by an organization’s business model, the more difficult it is to price, offer, deliver and measure multi-media advertising offerings to buyers. Even more difficult is to create meaningful cross-medium targeted buys.

Even more difficult is getting close enough to the consumer to be relevant at an affordable transaction cost. Today, the web is clearly most efficient. Why? Because the consumer’s web device does the targeting! IP is marketing magic. IPTV will become the way of the future, eventually surpassing broadcast in terms of cost/reach efficiency.

And for a change in humor, check out his video on the state of the media industry’s (in)ability to cope with this mess…

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

June 11, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

wither thy ad agency

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio

In Adage April 29, there was an article about the 4A’s rebranding – “No More Remembering What All Those A’s Stand For”. For years known as the American Association of Advertising Agencies, it has officially traded its name for its more commonly used acronym, the 4A’s.

Tom Carroll, president-CEO of TBWA Worldwide and outgoing chairman of the 4A’s, said this morning that the ad business has become too splintered, and media agencies and creative agencies must reconvene at the same table.

“We should all be in the same place, in the same room, because it’s all the same issue,” he said. Mr. Carroll added that consolidation of industry conferences and seminars is a must, given the economic pressures agencies face today, as sheer volume isn’t sustainable anymore from a cost perspective.

Ms. Hill criticized the group’s former name, saying aside from being a mouthful, it reflected the organization’s history of focusing solely on the business of American ad agencies. She announced that the 4A’s is opening up membership to international agencies effective this year, and will also offer membership to educational institutions for the first time so they can take part in the group and access 4A’s materials.
These moves come as the 4A’s — under the leadership of Ms. Hill, who took the helm last year — attempts to transform from a stodgy organization into a group that’s relevant to the rapidly changing agency landscape.

A couple of interesting ideas are encapsulated in this communique. Despite all of the discussions about agencies getting their acts together and recognizing the way that they need to handle the content and ad campaigns with different types of media the following remains true:

  • Agencies are largely managed as media silos, despite all of the rhetoric, primarily because the systems used in most agencies are not integrated.
  • Consolidating media and production budgets across mediums and across campaigns is difficult on an ongoing basis.
  • Standards for electronic media buying do not really exist (with the exception of cable and web), they have been stuck in committees for years. Neither agencies nor vendors can agree. So much of the buying is manual.
  • Systems for managing content and production are sparse. Workflows are largely manual, even if you do count homegrown traffic databases and spreadsheets.

So what do the agencies do? They just keep cutting costs, and start ‘new creative shops’ that grow up with the same problems and then get acquired, exacerbating the problem. This is unsustainable, and is becoming an inhibitor to growth. As scale of targeted advertising (volume) and the imperatives of dealing with multimedia (integration) become even more a requirement to daily operations, what’s being done? I think it is time for agencies to really wake up and fundamentally accept the changes that technology has imposed upon their business, and focus on solving those changes by leveraging technology…

Changing your name may be recognition that times have changed, but admitting your problems and focusing on doing things differently is far more important.

Used to be a great, fun business. Now I’m not so sure.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 30, 2009 at 7:59 am 2 comments

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