Saturday, September 30, 2006

Don't Talk To Me In Advertising!

Cartoonist Hugh McLeod's message is dead on. Need I say more?...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Critical Questions For Engagement Believers

Here are my immediate thoughts on the ARF/AAAA’s Consumer Engagement conference, as we near its end. First, the conference was awesome and included much thoughtful discussion! I really enjoyed soaking it all in, meeting smart people, as well as serving as one of three Engagement bloggers, providing live coverage. To stimulate further debate and contribute to progress, I offer the following observations and questions:

  • Media Entrapment. There’s been a lot of talk about engagement and turning on a mind within surrounding context. That’s great, but it seems the vast majority of discussion is about context within highly packaged, controlled contexts, such as 30-second spots and other traditional media. There’s nothing wrong with that, but isn’t consumer control turning those packaged contexts upside down? That’s why we’re having this darn conference in the first place! I understand the audience is comprised of a lot of media planners, buyers and researchers, but what about addressing the many other contexts beyond one-way media that impact context?
  • Uncontrolled Context. Considering point one above, what about uncontrolled contexts, like social networks, which panelist CNET hosts so many of. How should researchers and brand managers approach turning on minds when it’s not co-creation between a brand and a consumer, but co-creation among thousands of consumers and only one brand, a brand essentially at the mercy of the conversation within the crowd?
  • Unfavorable Context. Considering point one above, how does context change when conditions become unfavorable for a brand, i.e., what is the nature of context when you’re battling a TiVo? What is the nature of context when consumers are annoyed as hell by an advertiser's disruptive, interceptive or coercive presence?
  • Product As Context. Considering point one above, how about the role of product itself in creating context? Advertising used to serve as life-support for products that are mediocre, suck or simply don’t work, i.e., the gel that takes scratches out of eyeglasses (never worked). In a Google world – where search engines connect passionate information seekers with passionate information speakers – that life support dies. Conversely, good products often can sell themselves. Advertisers must consider the product more often when thinking about context and marketing communications that follow around. Maybe, sometimes, advertisers needs to forget about the media, and even the content of the message, and make recommendations more central to the product. Similarly, Greg Andersen of BBH suggested inverting the ratios: very much investment on the content, and very little on the media vehicles. Make content (or product) so good that consumers will want to help you market.
  • Customer Service Manifesting In Media. What about customer service? With consumers in control – and empowered to self-publish and spit back – customer service is increasingly manifesting in the most prolific kind of media: consumer-generated media. Positive or negative recommendations; or, positive or negative GRPs, or brand credits or debits. CGM then competes against the traditional, limited cadre of media that advertisers think they can control. But the world just works more holistically than that. Customer service, in essence, is becoming a media department. (Similarly, in a world where consumers participate, so does the legal department, which has been reluctant to embrace consumer participation and control over the brand.)
  • Embracing Consumer Control. Which leads to the most important question: What about control? I heard very little about advertisers ceasing control, until the Axe case study by BBH. The discussion much reflected denial of a need to give up control in an open-networked, digital media universe. This was suggested with one major online publisher at the conference, who emphasized the importance of keeping users within its walled gardens. As a consumer, I consider that an attempt to hold me hostage, not empower me. If this major online publisher was truly a friend to me, it would want to empower me – not monetize me by keeping me inside of its universe.

In addition, here are some specific areas where I think we could’ve invested more time:

  • Consumer Attention Data and Privacy. Media are going digital, and consumer metadata will become the lifeblood of advertising research, targeting and relationship management. The big issue with this today is that marketers are approaching this idea with the presumption that consumers don’t value their meta-data. I would agree, because it’s the incremental data that matter, and that’s hard for consumers to notice. But there will be increasing media flops where consumers do begin to realize the importance of their meta-data; that their attention belongs to them! Consider AOL’s recent release of consumer search-queries. The surface here has only begun to be scratched, and I guarantee you this will become a HUGE issue over the next one to three years. We should be talking about this now.
  • Humanizing This Whole Advertiser Business. What would happen if you asked a man on the street his point of view on engagement? He probably would answer you in context of his own cultural beliefs around the courting period prior to marriage, or his own experience. We should stop talking about media and consumers in such artificial, removed contexts and get some of them in here to give their feedback on how we marketing people are strategizing on how to manipulate and make more and more money off of them! Do advertisers really have meaningful relationships with consumers, or are we just deliberate around a nice idea, a reality we wish were true?

What do you think?

Victims of the "Depth Deficit"

The following are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement conference: Gerald Zaltman, Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration Emeritus, Harvard Business School.

Zaltman opened his presentation by asking, “How do we make engagement a reality for us?”

The challenge is that new ways of thinking about engagement are essential. Engagement is not a new concept as advertising has always been concerned with engagement. Still, some things have to change as a result of advances made in how the mind works and communication being more complex and diverse as ever.

Zaltman went on to describe what he refers to as the “depth avoidance” on thinking differently. There are so many fears: fear of new and unfamiliar thoughts, fear of change, etc. In interviews Zaltman conducted with key executives, acknowledgement of this “depth avoidance” seemed to naturally surface. From these interviews, executives revealed among teams a lack of courage, lack of consumer insight, vacuums of real thinking, research not viewed as creative input for developing the much desired “a-ha!” Some executives admitted that research in their organizations is viewed as dead weight rather than a springboard, that their teams are not proficient at nurturing new demand, but only harvesting existing demand- an obstacle for many organizations. Zaltman concluded that growing the top line is truly a task for the courageous and the imaginative.

The "depth deficit" in thinking can be characterized by the following:

  • An absence of deep thinking about research questions and what managers most need to know.
  • Failure to go beyond the surface thinking of customers.
  • Failure to use insights from different disciplines to structure research issues or other knowledge to interpret data.
  • Absence of bold, imaginative thinking about what turns on, or engages customers.

How do we as organizational leaders tackle this "depth deficit?" Zaltman proposes two solutions involving process and an attitude. Apply the process to challenge assumption and what could be present that isn’t there, then figure out how to introduce that thought to existing frames. Lastly, possess the right attitude. Many times in Zaltman's interviews with executives, time was mentioned as a major hurdle facilitating the "depth deficit" to go untreated. Zaltman encourages all of us to commit the time. Commit to the process of getting to an idea.

Engagement is winning!

The following are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement conference: Taddy Hall, Chief Strategy Officer of the ARF

Welcome to day two at the Consumer Engagemet conference. Taddy Hall, Chief Strategy Officer of the ARF opened today's session by recapping a few (of many) important highlights from yesterday’s session. Cleary, Hall said, “Engagement is winning.”

Some of the definitions that he found provocative were as follows:
  • The conceptualization of engagement itself, not a measurement, but a mental model or frame of how we approach brand demand or growth.
  • The mind is what the brain does.
  • Important clarification of “a turn on,” which means to occupy the mind with a particular concept or thought.
  • Frames. So much attention gets paid to context, but that is only a tip of the iceberg.

Some new models that emerged from yesterday’s discussion:

  • From “interrupt and repeat” to a model of co-creation.
  • Thinking not about what ads do to people, but what people do to ads.
  • Inversion of the linear model from "think, feel, do" to "feel, think, do" or "do, think, feel."
  • Marketing is a service to the consumer.
  • Media is a critical piece of the brand.
  • We are in an engage- based world where the “big idea” has to be front and center.
  • Advertising must give consumers “something.”
  • The brand is no longer a passenger, rather, it can be a content generator and an audience aggregator.

Hall ended by reiterating that advertising changes our memory and research should take this into consideration. Our industry is at a crossroads in many ways. As Peter Drucker once said, “If you want to do something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Measuring the Turn-On

These are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement Conference; Panel Discussion Including Marianne Foley of Harris Interactive, Robert Passikoff of Brand Keys, Amy Shea Hall of Ameritest, Bob Shullman of Monroe Mendelsohn Research, Barbara Zach of IAG Research, moderated by Barbara Bacci-Mirque of ANA.

The audience was reminded of the definition of engagement, which is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context. We were told that it took months to come up with the exact definition of this highly publicized, much talked about media term. The engagement model of Engagement + Trust x Targeted Contacts = Brand Impact will hopefully help marketers determine just how engaged consumers really are with a given product, service or television program.

Some questions to keep in mind when trying to determine consumer engagement of a given program:

How would someone behave if they were engaged with a program?
For how long did a person watch a television program?
Did they watch alone or with someone else?

Scale emotion as positive or negative to determine emotional involvement. Scale it on a range from most engaged to least engaged. A highly engaged consumer equals high recall thanks to strong content. Creativity plays a major role here, and majority rules when making the point of “creative matters”.

How do we incorporate predicting market success in engagement? The answer links back to Professor Wilson’s presentation given earlier in the day – you need to understand the mind and must be able to read a mind. You want to be able to factor in the difference between driving behavior and real engagement. It is agreed that change needs to happen…if you want to do something new, you have to stop doing something old.

Let the truth be told – no one likes change. We are all creatures of habit. The slightest modification in your daily routine scares the heck out of you. So it’s not surprising that adjusting to the rapidly changing media landscape is challenging. It is important to build a connection between a brand and a consumer. You also need an emotional connection – how do you feel about something? Does a product fit you? Since people wear multiple hats – a career person, a mother/father, a wife/husband, etc., it’s important to determine which “me” you are engaging and how you’re planning to do it.

Time to Disengage from Engagement

Jim Nail, CMO of Cymfony, offers interesting reflection on the Engagement panel at Mediapost Forecast 2007 conference. He says:

It was clear from the panel on engagement metrics at the Mediapost Forecast 2007 conference that the industry's attempts to use "consumer engagement" as a tool have gotten ahead of the Advertising Research Foundation's process of defining and codifying the concept.

The panel was billed as a debate, and it delivered. Representing the media buying community were the well-known and always colorful Erwin Ephron, along with Dave Smith, president of Mediasmith. Representing the group championing and developing the concept were Joe Plummer Chief Research Officer of the ARF and Bob DeSena Director of Active Engagement at Mediaedge:cia.

The debate boiled down to this: the media buyers want to operationalize the engagement concept with the kinds of specific metrics and processes that have guided the reach/frequency/GRP model of ad buying. But the initiative was only announced last July and the work is ongoing.

Dave Smith noted that every presentation by media companies includes a pitch that their property is more "engaging" than others while media research companies like Simmons are pitching engagement metrics that don't fit into the current process. To top it off, Dave noted pressure from clients asking what his company is doing about engagement.

It is to these media sellers, researchers and clients that my title is directed: they should disengage the hype machines.

Joe Plummer readily admitted "we have a long way to go and we need to hurry up" and noted that there are five research initiatives in process to explore and validate different approaches that could be taken. Joe continued, "We are changing the way the industry thinks about advertising about advertising from one mental model to another. There is a lot of trial and error to evaluate the role of ideas like Net Promoter, co-creation of meaning and others."

This kind of change takes time, experimentation, and a lot of creative thought. Everyone should engage in the process to get the best thinking and ideas into the mix to be tested and validated.

Engagement Video Series: Gerald Zaltman of Harvard Business School

Gerald Zaltman, according to Joe Plummer, is the spiritual leader of the Engagement movement. Oh yeah, he’s also the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at the Harvard Business School. While he offered brilliant answers to my questions, he also offered a good response to what I think is going to become a hugely critical question: Is Engagement a finite commodity? He linked to limited attention and limited ability of consumers to process information. Amidst all the hype about advertisers trying to reach this realm of Engagement, I think these latter issues are fundamental. Too often advertisers are in denial about this fact. Click the Play button below to view our discussion.

Engagement Video Series: Ted Smith of CNET

One of the more innovative, cutting-edge research execs in the digital media space is Ted Smith, Senior Vice President of Research and Intelligence at CNET. He describes his job and setting as sitting behind the dashboard of a nuclear powerplant, where their tapping into virtually every aspect of user behavior on their publisher network. Click the Play button below to view our discussion.

Engagement Video Series: Bruce Goerlich of ZenithOptimedia

I was impressed with Bruce Goerlich, Executive Vice President at ZenithOptimedia, after teaming up with him at an ARF “What’s Next” executive workshop last year. I subsequently featured him in a MediaPost column (it's a good read!) I wrote about search and Google in the media and advertising mix. I caught up with Bruce at the Consumer Engagement conference and pried into his mind at this juncture in advertising. Click the Play button below to view our discussion.

Engagement Video Series: Ben Mendelson of the Interactive Television Alliance

Our next installment in the Engagement video series features Ben Mendelson, President of the Interactive Television Alliance. Ben’s not a usual ARF presence, but offers great insight into a huge dimension entering the television and video landscape: direct marketing. Click the Play button below to view our entire discussion.

Engagement Video Series: Mike Donahue of the American Association of Advertising Agencies

Our next installment in the Engagement video series features Mike Donahue, Executive Vice President of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. He describes an inflection point in his industry where advertisers and agencies must “stop throwing things at their users” and, and striving to really find out what’s important to customers. Click the Play button below to view our entire discussion.

Change is good. Isn't it?

These are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement Conference; Alan Wurtzel – President, Research and Media Development, NBC: Media & Measurement: A Broken Marriage

Opening remarks included a “true-story” that went like this. A well-know TV executive died and found himself in front of St. Peter, who asked him if he preferred to go to heaven or to hell. The TV executive watched a short film clip on heaven and hell and decided he wanted to go to heaven. Curiosity got the best of him and he decided he wanted to check out hell as well. After all, the video clip showed that heaven and hell were equally beautiful. In fact, hell appeared to be the most beautiful thing he ever saw. So he tells St. Peter he wants to go to hell. He found himself greeted by sulfur. It was the most horrible place he had ever seen. He sees the devil and told him that hell looked nothing like the tape. The devil said of course not, that was the pilot.

The notion of one size fits all no longer applies to the constantly changing media platform the industry faces today. Wurtzel strongly believes that Nielsen ratings alone are no longer adequate as a metric to measure the evolving media landscape and I think he’s right. Media executives have no choice but to adapt to changes now. Why wait? With the endless list of new technologies to consider – digital downloads, digital video, etc., industry executives must try to listen to customers while addressing accountability and must find a way to measure it. The media industry today is exciting and scary, because we are truly redefining the rules of measurement - not because they want to, but because they have to.

Wurtzel summed up his thoughts with this simple quote “If we don’t change direction soon we’ll end up where we are going”.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"How Context Helps Turn on a Mind"

The following are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement conference: Jane Clarke, Vice President, Insights & Innovation, Time Warner Global Marketing, Bob DeSena, Managing Partner, Director of Active Engagement, Mediaedge:cia, Mark McLaughlin, Regional Vice President, Yahoo!, Ted Smith, Senior Vice President of Research and Intelligence, CNET, Chris Weil, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Momentum Worldwide, and moderated by Mike Donahue, Executive VP, AAAA and Co-CEO, Ad-ID & e-Biz for Media.

This afternoon’s panel, “How Context Helps Turn on a Mind” gave interesting perspective from Jane Clarke, Vice President, Insights & Innovation, Time Warner Global Marketing, Bob DeSena, Managing Partner, Director of Active Engagement, Mediaedge:cia, Mark McLaughlin, Regional Vice President, Yahoo!, Ted Smith, Senior Vice President of Research and Intelligence, CNET, Chris Weil, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Momentum Worldwide, and moderated by Mike Donahue, Executive VP, AAAA and Co-CEO, Ad-ID & e-Biz for Media.

These individuals echoed sentiment similar to that of earlier presenters: the consumer is ultimately the one in control. McLaughlin acknowledged that having a great magazine or television show is a very powerful/artful thing, especially as the world becomes one of infinite choice and on demand. He said that consumers are the ones in control of turning on their minds and marketers have to get used to “leap frogging” the context and make sure they are reaching the right consumer, at the right time, with the right message. Smith emphasized the importance of keeping up with ever-changing consumer behavior, “Context is everything. The consumer is in control, which is the ‘nature of the beast.’ You can’t study or create a five-year plan.”

We learned that engagement is a challenge and the consumer is in control; what can be done to address the challenge and reach the consumer? Clarke emphasizes communicating research, “The advertiser has to do research they haven’t done before to create those links, which is where you’ll find case studies of how to turn on a mind.” DeSena suggests, “Surrounding context is a critical component of engaging: turning on a consumer to an idea, message enhanced in context.” Creating context to turn on a mind is certainly an ongoing challenge for these marketers. Panelists stressed the importance of getting full involvement from teams. At Time Warner for example, there are many people involved in meetings, collaboration with both creative and media agencies. Weil also supports the collaborative process saying, “The agency has to work as part of the overall. Companies must work with media, media buying, and creative agencies, to affect change: strong brands, strong cultures coming together for one client.” At Yahoo! McLaughlin says that working collectively, they need to improve upon explaining engagement as an essence of a brand and how it resonates with a consumer. In order to understand the user experience that drives engagement, as a company, Yahoo! has four pillars that they consider simultaneously: content, personalization, community, and search. He sized up the opportunity as “working towards finding out what message is resonating with what demographic and behavioral group.” At CNET, Smith says programming is built to encourage consumers to take action, an effort that is measured daily.

It’s an information exchange. Study the consumer and apply context that is relevant.

Engaging Techniques by Google and the NFL

The following are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement conference: Patrick Keane, Director of Field Marketing & Sales Strategy at Google Inc. and Lisa Baird, Senior Vice President of Consumer Products and Marketing Integration for the National Football League.

At one of our sessions this morning we heard from two individuals whose two companies' commitment to engagement is apparent in the way they have penetrated our every day lives: Patrick Keane, Director of Field Marketing & Sales Strategy at Google Inc. and Lisa Baird, Senior Vice President of Consumer Products and Marketing Integration for the National Football League.

Keane and Baird both demonstrated how each of their respective companies places a high importance on consumer engagement. Keane described how customers engage with Google and how these unique insights can help better serve consumers. For example, Google Trends—one of the company’s newer products—was used to illustrate that if an increasing number of consumers type “fuel efficiency” in the search query, it should prompt automotive OEM’s to consider packaging their advertising in a different way. Keane also showed a heat mapped eye tracking study done on a typical Google page. The dark shaded region in the upper left indicated an intense amount of usage. Likewise, the shaded region in the top right where ads were placed showed that ads have a lot of value when they are relevant to the consumer. “The new reality is really that consumers are the new brand managers,” Keane stated, “the consumer is constantly in control and making decisions on what is going to best perform from an ad perspective.”

He closed with a picture of his colleague’s young nephew, sitting in front of the computer, entitled “Online tenure-‘since birth,’” to stress that kids these days have a deep level of engagement with the web, which in increasingly becoming the case for brands as well.

Lisa Baird came on stage next to discuss “The formidable challenge of fan engagement at the NFL.” Lights dim and a video of (very engaged-looking) fans cheering, embracing players, etc. kicks in, set to the music of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” and ending with the familiar NFL logo throbbing loudly like a heart beat. Lisa joked, “Ok, so my job may not be that hard.”

Despite the NFL’s good fortune of sustaining strong TV ratings and sponsors, Baird did say that one of the biggest challenges that they are faced with is that the world is changing… fast. Media dynamics affect how to look at a business/business model. Sports fans are now using platforms simultaneously: they want information when they want it, thus creating a challenge for the NFL to cater to these needs and continue to figure out how to serve up the offering.

Baird also pointed out that one of the driving principles to pay attention to is the changing relationship between brands and consumers: media dynamics, brand/customer relationships/America’s new demography. “The major trend over the past 10-15 years,” Baird says, “is the eroding trust between consumers and brands.” More than anything, this is what has given way to the growing importance of peer-to-peer. Peers are now engaging without brand or enterprise. Everybody wants their 15 “megabytes” of fame.

In closing, Baird shared with us—appropriately in football language—the wheel of how fan engagement should be considered:
“Scouting”- The who, what, where, how.
The NFL knows:
…that an avid fan engages more than 15 hours a week (the median is 32 hours a week!), that consumers are watching games on TV, listening to games on the radio, reading newspapers veraciously, downloading podcasts, playing video games, on websites checking stats.
…that the mainstream fans are TV loyalists, driven by team loyalty, driven by an emotional connection to their team.
…that the lifelong attachment of youth life begins in elementary school.
Essentially, consumers are the ones who taught the NFL, what it is, to be engaged in the NFL.
“The Draft”- Behind every draft is the war room, tight security with a wall where you can find what team is going to do what, where are their weaknesses, how to pull it together to make a great team.
The NFL uses this same course of action in going through every single piece of business to establish fan metrics to every single point of the NFL. Clean sheeted new product programs are targeted to increase engagement and custom content is created for external partners.
“Special Teams”- Just like special teams, the NFL makes sure of integrated execution, changes focus, and makes sure of integration over different parts.
“Training Camp”- They are similar to the way the NFL evangelizes their methods and sees how partners are handling the message. Since the fan is really in the care of ESPN or NBC, it is especially important to the NFL that the message is evangelized through summit meetings, etc. to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
“Playbook”- Otherwise known as the specific game plays orchestrating programs to get fans. The NFL employs activities such as league programs, club programs, sponsor applications, and broadcaster promotions.
“Weekly Stats”- The NFL monitors the products inside and out for every opportunity to improve the fan engagement experience. They have a pulse on everything from gate attendance and blackouts to the fantasy audience and retail.

The result? It doesn’t look like the NFL is going anywhere for awhile. In fact, it sounds like fan engagement is off to a strong season, which Baird attributes to the year of “hot” rookies (Reggie Bush, Vince Young) and the reopening of the Superdome, which Baird described as “the power of football changing a community.”

How can this information be used and taken to the next level? Baird suggests being committed to your fans/consumers who want to participate and to be a part of helping to shape the advertising platform.

Changing The Process: Greg Andersen of BBH

The following are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement conference: Greg Andersen, Head of Engagement Planning, BBH:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Digital media will all become mainstream, but all the debates about clutter, fragmentation, ROI, etc. will be mute if we can’t harness people’s attention.

Interruption to engagement…doesn’t work anymore. We have to earn attention. If we get people to want to consumer marketing, then they’ll want to consumer our brand and learn about our products. This is why BBH introduced Engagement Planning as a fundamental discipline.

Old versus new media. Channels won’t become irrelevant as long as content becomes relevant. People don’t engage with media, they engage with content. We think about brands as content providers. To be efficient in this environment, brands need to think about aggregating audiences on their own, versus buying them.

In a fragmented world of limitless choice, only the most original, imaginative and visible content will have any chance of commercial success.

Invert ratio: Instead of more on media and less on content, what about more on content and less on media? Example: Smirnoff Tea Party video [white guys doing hiphop video].

Millward Brown study on DVR Households: Best creative is 30X more likely to be stopped and watched than the worst. The worst tad is 5.5X more likely to be fast forwarded than the best.

We’re living in an increasingly screen-based society. More televisions now in homes versus people. Screens in homes, cars, stores. Even print is being delivered via screens now.

Communications is an idea-based discipline. Example: Axe Dry video [Game killers.] The brand had success because Axe thinks of itself as an entertainment brand. People wanted to consume the marketing. That to us is engagement.

What is the big idea? What is the platform? What is the narrative that can travel across platforms?

Changing the process can be very difficult. How do we engage ideas that are rich in content and experience – on an ongoing basis?

Four disciplines:

  1. Account management
  2. Creative
  3. Account planning
  4. Engagement planning

Collaboration is key, inside the agency and out. Changing the process freaks people out.

  1. Why the need for constant evolution?
  2. What is this Engagement Planning thing?
  3. …and what’s this new way of working?
  4. How might I need to approach things differently?

Rigor around content and channel choice. Get away from generalizations like objective setting and get down to specific tasks. What specifically is the role of communications? The more specific, the better we can get to measurement.

Ideas get better when you have a lot of people collaborating from the beginning with a sense of ownership.

Changing The Process: Jim Taylor of Mediaedge:cia

The following are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement conference: Jim Taylor, Panning Partner, Central Planning Group, Mediaedge:cia:

What is communications planning?

Communications industry is in a period of structural and cultural turmoil.

- Post full-service agency, things ad started to calm down.

- Then came communications channel planning…holistic planning.

- Communications planning became very disruptive.

So what is communications planning? The process of developing a holistic plan, across marketing and trade marketing functions, that defines how a brand will perform. Known as:

- Engagement planning

- Integrated marketing communications

- Connections planning

- Channel planning

- 360 planning

- Media-neutral planning

Structurally, it precedes execution. It involves bridging the worlds of strategy and creativity.

What are benefits of communications planning for client?

  1. Being true to your annual objectives.
  2. Interlinking communications channels and encouraging better use of them.

Who does communications planning well at the moment?

- Individuals do, not agencies.

- UK and Asia are a little more advanced, but not much.

Do clients really understand communications planning?

- Not really.

- But there is a sense of momentum.

- Clients don’t know how to pay for it, or set a separate budget stream.

Then what do clients really want?

- Those with no real understanding value above the line creative, most.

Is it important to be independent of execution to do communications planning?

- You can get objectivity in executional agencies.

- It’s dangerous to be too removed from execution. Being objective and subjective is key.

Different agencies are scrabbling to adopt communications planning. But is it a decoy for integration?

- There are a few, because clients think it’s important.

Today if we’re honest, the agency world is utterly confused.

- The ROI from communications is really diminishing.

- Communications Planning may be a part-solution.

- BUT execution is what clients pay for.

Four Stages in Communications Planning

  1. Wanting to Fly: 2000-2005: within all execution agencies, all forms of planning will merge into Communications Planning
  2. Learning to Fly: 2005-2010: Within media agencies, media buying will relocate. A measurement device creates the tipping point.
  3. Cutting Through The Earth’s Atmosphere: 2010-2020: companies that have historically understood econometrics will do well. Clients will want more control over their brands at an emotional level. Client environment will become more appealing to agency people. Ad agencies will struggle on three fronts: Communications Planning; Production; Ideas. Some agencies will gravitate to production; some will gravitate to production.
  4. Weightlessness: 2020 onwards: Be able to tell the “return on idea” investment.

Making tomorrow happen today.

- Communications Planning and Creative is a core product.

- Neither dictating to the other or coming first.

- Working together but independently.

- Need equality between the two; results in account handling and management consultancy.

Why Not Create This Today?

Big Ideas Instead of Ads!

HEY! What’s the Big Idea?

These are on-the-fly notes from the Consumer Engagement Conference; Panel Discussion on ‘Big Ideas Instead of Ads’: Valerie Graves of Vigilante, Mike Hughes of The Martin Agency, Andrew Keller of Crispin, Porter and Bogusky, Joyce King Thomas of McCann Erickson and Mark Tutssel of Leo Burnett, led by Randall Rothenberg of Booz Allen Hamilton:

Myth vs. Science - Which of the two provide for a Big Idea? Is it a combination of both? Does one have more impact over the other? The general consensus appeared to be that science plays a major role in coming up with a big idea, but advertising can not be turned into a science. Words like insight, self-expression, logic and creativity came up quite a bit, as did reward, intrigue, interest and inspire. What can really stimulate consumer engagement is offering them something that is inspiring, something that is intriguing, and in the end something that rewards them. Let’s be honest, everyone likes to be rewarded. If you offer me a product or service that I can benefit from, I will definitely think about this product even after I turn off the television set. I may even go out and purchase this product and maybe, just maybe, I’ll tell my friend about it. This is the key. To get people interested. Get people talking about your brand. Seems simple doesn’t it? The hard part is coming up with a campaign that will grasp the immediate attention of consumers and then executing it in a way that will keep them interested. Creativity plays a key role here as does bridging the gap between a product and the audience it’s trying to reach.

I think it’s safe to say that the key to a successful campaign for a particular brand is one that engages consumers. Determining how to take a product and make it appeal to consumers is crucial to giving them a reason to engage – a reason to remember – a reason to purchase. But what is interesting to a consumer? Almost anything can engage a consumer as long as the appeal is right.

Geico Car Insurance – Surprising how engaged consumers were by the British speaking Getco.

Staples Easy Button – A simple concept grounded on the idea that life needs to be simple resonated with people. Nearly 1 million easy buttons were sold.

Burger King – Created a King who is believed to be a classic character of advertising that appealed to children and re-contextualized to a scary setting.

So what’s the moral of the story? You, the advertiser, must understand the consumer you are trying to reach and you must be interesting. If you provide an interesting message, you will find an interested, engaged consumer.

Advertisers Can Learn From Montessori School Teachers

Angelo Fernando at Hoi Polloi left an interesting comment on my earlier notes on Gerald Zaltman’s keynote address today at the Consumer Engagement conference:

I believe there's a lot of work to be done on understanding mental engagement --as opposed to the physical kind. I like your reference to children and education. If you go back to the roots of the Montessori method, you'll find that it's all based on engaging the mind in the pre-computer age. They teach vocabulary, math, geography etc through a combination of interactive devices and socialization. (Full disclosure here: My wife is a Montessori teacher!)

The point is, when applying engagement to brands, we need to recognize that merely clicking on something or inviting consumer generated content is not going to create lasting experiences. The consumer needs to participate in the experience beyond clickthroughs. There may be no metrics for experiences --yet-- but it's time to stop measuring things just because we can measure them.

Interesting perspective! I went to Montessori school during the first years of my elementary education. It was a real, wholesome experience, something most advertiers don't understand with their hard-sell, cluttered, mass-marketing campaigns.

Gerald Zaltman Keynote at the Consumer Engagement Confernce

These are on-the-fly notes at the Consumer Engagement Conference; Keynote: Gerald Zaltman, Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School:

What is a mind? The short hand answer, among cognitive psychologists: the mind is what the brain does. That makes the mind the most intensively used, versatile organ. It’s the most complex and least understood, although we do know a great deal about it. Turning it on is a challenge. But turning on a mind is central to engagement.

I stress a few basic qualities of mine, using devices that will engage more.When turning on a mind, I mean occupying it with a particular concept or thought.

Case studies:

  • Children in kindergarten or first or second grade, if you want to teach a unit of geography, the way you design that unit and its success depends on whether kids know the world is round or flat. Second graders think world is round, but if you prove further, you begin to learn that almost all of those children think the world is round like a pancake, not round like a tennis ball. It makes a big difference.
  • A simple riddle: There’s a man at home, and another man coming home. The man at home is wearing a mask. It takes a while before people come up with the answer, a ballgame. The primary thought that is triggered by home is a residence, a robbery. Riddles and games are based on assumption. Even ambiguous words… “prostitutes appeal to pope”…means different things in Enquirer versus Boston Globe.

The point is that frames are essential to how we process information. We always see something from somewhere, and it’s essential that we conduct necessary research to understand where the somewhere is when we’re thinking about brand ideas and context. It’s impossible to turn on a mind without activating a frame. Frames are deep, like emotions, they’re unconscious, automatic and very powerful. They are like metaphors. They’re co-equal in importance with emotions, play stage in which emotions act out their roles. The labels for common deep metaphors are: journey transformation, balance, control, and so fourth. They influence what we attend to, how information is internalized, how processed…what, if anything we do, its consequence.

Case study

  • Two groups of people exposed to identical film…two automobiles banging into each other. First group asked to list everything that occurred in accident just viewed. Second group is asked to list everything in crash they just witnessed. First group “accident” seldom mentioned broken glass; second group mentioned it far more. When there’s not glass broken, lots of “crash” people still report broken glass.

Advertising has the impact or potential to alter memories. Our memories are malleable. They’re constantly changing, adding and taking things away. When a mind is turned on, it becomes inventive, imaginative to the past events for which it uses to process current exposures.

Our minds are extremely inventive. Not just with respect to memory, but with respect to ongoing events. Minds are always imagining. The frames we use are very powerful in determining what we add and take away from and experience.

Deep metaphors (frames) are the somewhere from which we see or experience evenets. They influence how consumers re-present ad content to themselves. They shape imaginations.

We imagine or re-create the past by adding and subtracting .information.

We exercise imagination s we experienced present events, again by adding and subtracting information.

Our consumption visions concerning future product or service encounters are an imaginative conceptual blending of the past and present including advertising.

What are design principles to turn on a mind? Most of our ideas seldom reach conscious thought. They usually do so only after they’ve done their job. Here are key components:

  • Exposure
  • Distinctiveness
  • Personal Relevance and Active Involvement
  • Availability of Concepts
  • Story-Telling Capacity
  • Mood State congruence
  • Emotional Content

Joe Plummer Opening of Consumer Engagement Conference

These are on-the-fly summary notes Consumer Engagement conference; Dr. Joe Plummer, Chief Research Officer of the Advertising Research Foundation:

My correlary to Murphy’s Law was that Murphy was an optimist. Let’s give a little framework on engagement before featuring Gerald Zaltman. One way to frame it is to contrast it to success that economists call the mass-media age, and where’s it going in the participant age? It’s a radical change.

Mass media --> Participant age

Ad Goal: Create brand awareness --> Create brand demand

Mental Model: Interrupt and repeat --> Co-creation and coownershop

Operating Construct: Reach --> Engagement

We’ve always asked what ads do to consumers, but now we must ask what do people do to advertising? We need to move beyond opportunity to se of hear the message to opportunity to engage in the brand idea. We must understand and measure the prospects. The true integrator is your customer. Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.

  • Turned On – Activating associations, symbols, metaphors and experience to co-create personalized experiences.
  • Old advertising process:
  • Think à Feel à Do…but it’s wrong…we don’t work that way as people.
  • Feel à Do à Think or Feel à Think à Do…is right!
  • Storytelling is more powerful than argumentation. But there’s a gap between common wisdom and common practice.
  • Spontaneous and reflective measures – both are needed.
  • We must shift our thinking from push by medium to a balance of push and pull across media.
  • Advertising should be focused on prime prospects, not just large audiences.
  • New engagement model:
  • Engagement + Trust x Targeted contacts + Brand Impact

Bob Barocci Opening of Consumer Engagement Conference

These are on-the-fly summary notes of Welcoming Session:

Bob Barocci, president of the ARF, opens up the conference, following welcome by O. Burtch Drake of the AAAA.

“We’re honored to lead initiative called engagement. This may be the single most important initiative going on in our industry. Today and tomorrow will be different than other engagement events. No speechifying. People here today are believers and that is major criterion among all the presenters and panelists…they’re changing their practices to reflect their ideas about engagement. Here are some examples:

  • NBC will now begin to price television time based on engagement. First broadcast network to have courage to do that.
  • Seven blue-chip advertisers have agreed to lead engagement consortiua. P&G, USPS, P&G, Microsoft among others. They will overlay engagement theory over their own practices.
  • Experiental marketing council. Cisco, Frito-Lay, Microsoft, IBM, Coke, Oracle and ten others.
  • Major agencies, like Publicis, have started appointing directors of engagement.
It’s a scary proposition. Nielsen is about to offer commercial ratings, which many media companies are afraid of. They’re likely to find that commercial ratings will be lower than program ratings, and we can be sure that engagement ratings will be even lower.

Engagement Video Series: Paul Donato of Nielsen Media Research

Paul Donato, Chief Research Officer of Nielsen Media Research, has a unique, important and sometimes controversial role at Nielsen Media Research. In the Engagement video series, Paul offers his thoughts on the state of measurement and advertising, the evolution of video, the meaning of Engagement and the future. Another must-see!

(Obvious disclosure: Nielsen Media Research is affiliated with my company, Nielsen BuzzMetrics. Nielsen Media Research is owned by VNU, which is a majority shareholder in Nielsen BuzzMetrics. I frequently collaborate with Paul Donato in the course of our business.

Engagement Audio Series: Joe Pilotta of BIGResearch

I first met Joe Pilotta, VP of research at BIGResearch, several years ago, following an awesome presentation he made with Don Schultz on marketing silos and simultaneous media usage. I soon got to know Joe better as he got involved with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, which my company co-founded. Joe was not able to join me for a video interview (similar to Mark Green), so we did a Skype audio interview. Joe brings a contrarian and academic flare to the topic of advertising, research and engagement. He’s far from getting on the engagement bandwagon, but definitely offers constructive criticism for the larger discussion.

Click the Play button below to hear the audio interview. You can also subscribe to all Engagement By Engagement audio feeds (on your iPod or other player) here.

powered by ODEO

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Engagement Video Series: Mainak Mazumdar of Nielsen//Netratings

Mainak Mazumdar, chief of measurement science at Neilsen//Netratings, has been a good friend of mine since year 2000, when he joined the Media Metrix media measurement unit of Jupiter Media Metrix (dot-bomb days). A few years later, he’s now the stats guru at Netratings. He offered some interesting insight into how the big media and television companies are starting to drive and fund a lot of the development in the online audience measurement space. As most readers of this blog will know, the television upfronts were shaky this year, and advertisers demanded major integration and extension from traditional television to digital video channels. Online video is here (literally on this blog, and figuratively)! Click the Play button below to hear Mainak’s insights.

(Obvious disclosure: Nielsen//Netratings is loosely affiliated with my company, Nielsen BuzzMetrics. We share a majority shareholder: VNU.)

Past Interviews In The Engagement Series

Engagement Video Series: Drew Neisser of Renegade Marketing

At the OMMA conference yesterday, I got a chance to hook up with one of my favorite digital and experiential marketing gurus: Drew Neisser, founder and CEO of Renegade Marketing, a unit of Dentsu. He doesn’t come from the media measurement school, but offers a refreshing perspective: focus on the overall, customer experience…period. His programs often include traditional media tactics, but they are not the core. The idea is. Click below to hear Drew’s insights.

Past Interviews In The Engagement Series

Engagement Video Series: John Bell of Ogilvy's 360 Digital Influence

John Bell of Ogilvy's 360' Digital Influence, a divison of Ogilvy Worldwide Public Relations had this to say about the power of consumer engagement. I also caught up with him at a conference in Washington DC. John's firm is quite "engaged" on this topic, and earlier this week, his colleague, Rohit Bhargava, was on an "Engagement" panel I moderated at OMMA East. Here are my reflections on that session.

Past Interviews In The Engagement Series

Engagement Video Series: Virginia Miracle of Brains On Fire

Virginia Miracle works on the frontier of consumer-engagement. At Dell, she really pushed the envelop on tapping into the power of consumer expression and recommendations, and she was one of the first individuals in corporate America to have the title of "Brand Manager, Word-of-Mouth Marketing." She since joined an East Coast firm entitled (get ready for this) Brains on Fire, a branding and identity agency with unique expertise in word-of-mouth. Virginia, a proud board member of the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), had this to say about "engagement" when I caught up with her at a conference in Washington DC last week.

Past Interviews In The Engagement Series

Engagement Video Series: Dr. Joseph Plummer of The Advertising Research Foundation

After interviewing Bob Barocci, president of the Advertising Research Foundation, earlier this week, I convinced Joe Plummer, Chief Research Officer of the ARF, to face the camera for a chat with moi. Beyond a lifetime of contributions to advertising research, Joe Plummer is largely responsible for leading the framework for the Engagement initiative, including its working definition: “Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.” Here’s the AdAge story about the definition and framework, which was unveiled last March (Jonathan Carson and I actually contributed to the corresponding whitepaper).

One of the things I like about Joe's take is that he believes insights garnered from consumer-generated media should play a major role in the equation, along with other emerging human insights. Our video chat is a must-see, so I encourage you to press the Play button below.

Past Interviews In The Engagement Series

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Engagement Video Series: Steven Starr of Revver, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of

Today I moderated a standing-room-only panel at the OMMA conference on social video, and I was joined by a few pioneers from the space: First, I had Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of, famous for the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment (seen over six million times as of today!). Second, Steven Starr, CEO and co-founder of Revver, joined as well; Revver is an video-sharing, syndication and ad-serving platform rolled into one. It’s like YouTube, but they split advertising profits with content creators, who can be just about anyone. I described here how I was using Revver to power the video on this Enagement blog.

I admire the folks from Eepybird as well as Revver, because of their grassroots passion, respectively, to create unique content and empower content creators to monetize. They originate far from the mainstream legacy of content creators and media folk; they’re true renegades and innovators, creating a totally new form of entertainment and media model. They’re also very nice guys.

I’ll stop rambling…here’s my interview with Steven Starr of Revver, and Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of Click Play to view. And below my interview is the famous Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment. Check it out. It’s hysterical! (At the OMMA conference, they also gave us a preview of their latest Mentos experiment, which has become an opening feature with the Blue Man Group.)

Engagement Video Series: Bob Barocci of The Advertising Research Foundation

When the ARF approached me about getting involved with the Consumer Engagement conference, I was interested in supporting the organization in a significant way, but really wanted to make a unique contribution to the programming and engagement of the event itself. And that’s how the Engagement By Engagement blog came to be. There were many supporters of this experiment from the onset, but Bob Barocci, president of the ARF, was a major champion and helped make it a go.

With that, I encourage you to press play below to view our chat about his views on the advertising, media and research business. I always have a lot of fun when chatting with Bob. This one’s a must-see.

Engagement Video Series: Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0

Scott Karp is head of research and strategy at a niche publisher, but is perhaps best known for his blog, Publishing 2.0, which covers the convergence of media and technology. Scott is one of the most important sources of analysis in my news feed, because he provides the unvarnished truth about how media and advertising models are shifting, with no hindrances from fear or legacy. Which explains Scott’s attention to Rishad Tobaccowala at the OMMA conference today:

Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, gets my vote for most honest, “let’s cut out the bullshit” keynote speech. Speaking at the OMMA Conference in New York, Rishad admitted what most media and advertising stalwarts are deeply afraid of conceding: we’re just making this shit up (see his keynote here).

To hear Scott’s raw commentary on the state of media, advertising and Engagement, click the play button below. (By the way, you can come see Scott and I present to the Magazine Publishers of America on disintermediation occurring in publishing with the advent of consumer-generated media. Our workshop takes place on October 19 in New York.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Engagement Video Series: Erwin Ephron

Anyone in media planning knows Erwin Ephron – the “father of modern media planning.” So it is my pleasure to present my video interview with him. An articulate contrarian in the Engagement debate, Erwin suggests hope for the advertising business if it can get back to basics and focus on actual measurements that predict response.

During my visit, Erwin gave me a copy of his book, “Media Planning: From Recency To Engagement.” I’m very familiar with much of Erwin’s thinking and writing, but I’ve not read his book. I promise to eventually read it and offer a critique in the next couple months.

Click on the play button below to view my interview with Erwin.