Archive for the ‘Media fragmentation’ Category

More on Media Attention & Multitasking

June 22, 2009

MediaPost writes about a new Experian study — nothing especially new here — that shows how much activity and media Americans try and cram into a single day:

The fall 2008 study says the biggest multitasking period comes when watching television. While nine out of 10 online adults watched television in a given 24-hour period, 72% of them multitasked by using at least one of 12 measured media. The three biggest activities are the Web, 27%; mobile phone, 26%; and emailing, 23%.

The 38-hour day adds up as follows: working, 6.6 hours; sleeping, 6.1 hours; television, 3 hours; Internet, 2.4 hours; and radio, 1.7 hours. Time spent with books and computer games are each 1.5 hours. Listening to audio online, gaming on consoles and eating are at 1.4 hours each. Instant messaging and listening to an MP3 player are at 1.3 hour each. Commuting is 1.2 hours.

While TV retains the largest audiences of any single medium these data indicate that people aren’t paying close attention. This also points to the need for multi-platform campaigns that assume this multi-tasking behavior.

I wasn’t able to find a copy of the results other than in this article. I’m sure there are some additional findings that are interesting.

According to a similar, but earlier study (Sept, 2008 by Mediamark) traditional newspapers see the least multitasking of any of the major media.


Bid4Spots Moves into Cable

June 11, 2009

Picture 2Bid4Spots, which has been operating in the radio space, is moving into local cable TV auctions. Unlike other cable-TV buying platforms it’s a reverse auction. According to MediaPost:

As with its radio system, Bid4Spots says the system allows the cable systems to sell unsold inventory at the 11th hour.

Advertisers can narrow their inventory request by target audience. Cable operators in a slew of markets are participating, so an advertiser can make a multimarket buy via the system.

The reverse online auction will take place weekly on Thursday mornings Pacific time for buys to be executed over the following week.

The cable provider with the lowest CPM wins the advertiser’s business.

One of the criticisms I heard of SpotRunner’s system early on from one advertiser was that while it facilitated cable buys, to be effective on TV one needs “reach and frequency.” So I’m not sure how the system addresses those issues. Does anyone have any direct experience with these spot-cable-buying systems that can speak to how effective they are or aren’t?

I wrote on Twitter yesterday that I was in a meeting at Google about its competitive position and one of the participants casually threw out the statistic that 2/3 of search was driven by traditional media and offline influences or activity (not a verbatim quote). I said “is that a public number”? I’m not entirely sure of the precise accuracy of the figure but it’s significant and directionally I know it’s correct. It validates the need for “integrated” media buys that recognize this. It also makes the strong case for continued use of traditional media.

I’ll Bet You’ve You’ve Never Heard Of. . .

April 25, 2008

The most interesting company I’ve run across in a very long time I had never heard of — and I’ll bet you haven’t either.

I had lunch the other day with Wayne Reuvers who runs a company called Live Holdings, Inc. It has a number of products/offerings. But the product in question, LiveAdMaker, is a multi-platform tool that manages ad creative and distribution across multiple media: TV, radio, newspapers, out-of-home, online search and display and direct mail (I’m probably leaving a few out).

It’s all about local markets/local distribution.

This is almost exactly what Google is trying to build (and maybe Microsoft): a dashboard (with corresponding infrastructure) that manages advertising across media and to the various consumer distribution points. These guys have had this in the market for several years and are working with agencies and OEMs/brands. The company has a very impressive client list.

I was literally astounded by the platform’s capabilities (I saw a demo over lunch). Reuvers was customizing a TV spot, with localized text/graphics and rearranging segments of the commercial in real-time through the company’s Web-based interface (it’s all hosted).

I also can’t imagine I’d never heard anything about them. This is the “one stop shop” that everyone from Google to Gannett has been talking about but hasn’t yet actually built.

Print, Online News and Audience Segmentation

March 17, 2008

MediaPost writes up a comScore study that segments online news consumers and newspaper readers. The simple takeaway is that younger audiences are no less interested in news, they just get it online. Print attracts older audiences:


newspaper readers 1


newspaper readers 2

According to the scheme that comScore used:

  • Heavy Newspaper Readers: 6 times per week
  • Medium Newspaper Readers: 3-5 times per week
  • Light Newspaper Readers: 1-2 times per week
  • Non Newspaper Readers: 0 times per week

News consumption hasn’t decreased and hasn’t decreased among younger audiences; it has simply moved online for some segment of the audience. comScore found that the strong print brands also had a strong online following, but in many cases that following was comprised of a large chunk of online-only readers.

In addition, the online environment is quite a bit more competitive with various news sources, including TV sites and online only sites, competing for attention with traditional newspapers. This fragmentation and segmentation of traditional media audiences is also happening with yellow pages and to a slightly lesser extent with TV.\


The new State of the News Media 2008 report is available. This is a great overview of the newspaper industry.

More Local Traffic Deals

March 11, 2008

Here are two distribution deals, which are similar:

LiveDeal signed a deal to have Yahoo! ads appear on its pages. This is similar to a deal Marchex has done.

Superpages renewed and expanded its deal with, in which:’s performance-based advertisers will continue to receive preferred placement on the website. Performance-based advertising products generate revenues when consumers connect with advertisers by clicking on their advertiser listing or by calling their businesses. The expanded agreement also includes preferred placement on’s network of more than 400 regional media sites, which is one of the largest local search syndication networks in the U.S.

That syndication network is the old PremierGuide, which purchased last year.

These sorts of deals are natural, as a way to overcome the fragmentation of the online local market. They help with increased monetization of destination sites but also create more performance-based ad opportunities (clicks/calls) for publishers with direct advertiser relationships.

Web a Primary Source of News for Half

March 1, 2008

TechCrunch alerted me to this Zogby poll of roughly 2,000 US adults, which I had missed. Here’s what it says:

48% of respondents said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, an increase from 40% who said the same a year ago. Younger adults were most likely to name the Internet as their top source – 55% of those aged 18 to 29 say they get most of their news and information online, compared to 35% of those age 65 and older.

Overall, 29% said television is their main source of news, while fewer said they turn to radio (11%) and newspapers (10%) for most of their news and information. Just 7% of those aged 18 to 29 said they get most of their news from newspapers, while more than twice as many (17%) of those age 65 and older list newspapers as their top source of news and information.

86% of Americans said Web sites were an important source of news, with more than half (56%) who view these sites as very important. Most also view television (77%), radio (74%), and newspapers (70%) as important sources of news, although fewer than say the same about blogs (38%).

Nearly a third (32%) said Internet sites are their most trusted source for news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television (21%) and radio (15%).

The survey also found that while most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities

This is simply more evidence of a migration to the Internet for news and away from traditional newspapers and, more significantly, television. It’s part of the larger story of the Internet’s “disruption” of traditional media across the board.

Assuming this trend continues, print newspapers ultimately become a secondary way for newspaper publishers to deliver news but a still-important way to reach an entire metro area. And mobile gradually eats into train or bus commuters’ print newspaper reading I suspect.

Newspapers are unfortunately laying off writers and cutting costs (because most are public) at a time when newspapers should be reminding everyone that they’re the richest and the most trusted source of news – online.

The opportunity is to leverage news traffic into a broad array of use cases at newspaper sites.


Again, here are the top 30 US newspaper sites:

  1. — 17,177
  2. — 9,939
  3. — 8,478
  4. Newsday — 6,450
  5. Wall Street Journal Online — 5,409
  6. LA Times — 4,607
  7. — 4,364
  8. Chicago Tribune — 3,891
  9. Daily News Online Edition — 2,956
  10. New York Post — 2,851
  11. Francisco Chronicle — 2,785
  12. — 2,300
  13. International Herald Tribune — 2,250
  14. Village Voice Media — 2,224
  15. Chicago Sun-Times — 2,186
  16. Atlanta Journal-Constitution — 1,974
  17. The Houston Chronicle — 1,946
  18. The Seattle Times — 1,840
  19. – The Dallas Morning News — 1,828
  20. Seattle Post-Intelligencer — 1,785
  21. The Politico — 1,672
  22. Orlando Sentinel — 1,522
  23. — 1,455
  24. — 1,435
  25. Baltimore Sun — 1,332
  26. — 1,315
  27. The Detroit News — 1,256
  28. The San Diego Union-Tribune — 1,180
  29. Detroit Free Press — 1,168
  30. The Washington Times — 1,161

Source: Nielsen (1/08); traffic in thousands

The YPA Joins the Conversation

January 21, 2008

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The Yellow Pages Association is now part of the local search conversation over at Search Engine Land as a new contributor to the “Locals Only” column. Today’s first column is called “Welcome to the Local Search Jungle.

Many online professionals are critical and skeptical of yellow pages and their outlook. And I have certainly been critical of particular players in the past. The yellow pages industry, however, is a central part of what I’ve called “the local search ecosystem.” Unlike offline, the Internet needs a range of companies to complete the value chain from buyer to seller and back.

Google has always said as much but placed new emphasis on partnerships with yellow pages (among others) in its Local Markets Symposium held in December.

Local is one of the most challenging and dynamic markets online or off — and the yellow pages have a critical role to play in bringing SMBs into the online marketing conversation.

Microsoft Takes ‘Local’ Targeting into Stores

January 15, 2008

MediaCart listI can imagine two possible consumer reactions to MediaCart, a smart shopping cart that offers video displays, personalized services and targeted advertising to shoppers in retail stores: amazement or horror.

Microsoft has teamed up with MediaCart to offer in-store ad targeting that is both behavioral and takes the concept of “location-based services” to the store aisles using RFID tags. Here’s the press release. The first rollout will be in selected ShopRite grocery stores, which are concentrated on the US East Coast.

According to the release:

By using Microsoft technologies, the MediaCart solution will enable anonymous ad targeting through data obtained through ShopRite’s customer loyalty card program. A shopper would scan his or her card at the MediaCart, and receive ads and promotional offers based on past purchases and/or saved shopping lists that could be uploaded from a home PC. No personally identifiable information will be shared with Microsoft, MediaCart or any advertiser as part of the ad serving process. The technology will also provide advertisers with reporting and analytics capabilities to assess performance of the ads in the stores.

In addition to the advertising shoppers will receive, they will also be able to save time and money with MediaCart-equipped shopping carts by obtaining electronic coupons, locating products in the store, performing comparative price checks, viewing store specials in aisle as they shop, viewing recipes and nutritional information, shopping using an electronic shopping list that is presented in aisle order, totaling the cost of the items in their baskets before checkout, and expediting the checkout using the cart-level checkout feature. This enhanced shopping experience helps differentiate ShopRite in the marketplace and drives brand and customer loyalty.

The rest of this post is at SEL.

What Aren’t Local Ads Coming Online?

January 14, 2008

Microsoft’s Eric Picard has a thoughtful column at ClickZ about how predictions of the death of traditional (local) media are premature:

[Analysts] seem to believe that all traditional media budgets will get eaten by digital media in the next few years. This doesn’t seem like a bad assumption. It sounds logical, after all.

But it’s completely wrong.

The report talks about dollars moving from local newspapers to online display advertising. It concludes that the trend will continue forward with ad dollars from local advertisers moving online because of diminishing distribution.

Another report I read from another analyst this year suggests that radio dollars will move to search.

Both of these conclusions are wrong…

Picard goes on to discuss the various sales challenges and disincentives to work with small advertiser budgets vs. nationals who want to do geotargeting:

Imagine this scenario: You’re a local auto dealer with $5,000 to spend annually, and you call Yahoo, MSN, and AOL. You request geotargeted inventory that will match the newspaper circulation numbers of some local designated marketing area (DMA). You won’t get a phone call or e-mail returned. There isn’t a sales force today set up to go after the local market at any of the majors online, so the salespeople you’re trying to engage with are the same ones handling national budgets that are significantly larger. If you were a salesperson on commission, whose call would you return: Ford’s national ad agency media buyer or the dealership ad manager at Sweeney’s Ford in Greenfield, MA?

Picard is absolutely right that most analyses of traditional vs. digital media are superficial in key areas. I’ve spoken to many Wall Street analysts and my sense is that they often have limited insight into market dynamics when it comes to local. However, I disagree with Picard in some respects and think there’s an irony here that he’s missed.

Picard says that local SMB ad dollars won’t shift online (as quickly as predicted) and portals/engines won’t go after them for the reasons mentioned in the excerpt above. The layer missing from the analysis is what’s happening at the traditional media companies themselves. Indeed, the irony I alluded to is that yellow pages publishers and newspapers, to an increasing degree, are themselves the vehicles of the shift of SMB ad dollars online. I’ve written here many times about the “agency” role of yellow pages publishers (and increasingly newspapers) vis-à-vis SMBs: helping local advertisers buy online media beyond what the publisher itself has to offer.

The publishers must do this to remain relevant to their advertisers, as audiences continue to fragment and migrate online. The publishers’ challenge is to manage the SMB spend and the relationship between all the traditional and online products being sold (as well as margins). Newspapers, for their part, actually can use some of these local SEM products to capture SMB ad dollars they might not have gotten independently.

Some number of SMBs are experimenting themselves with various online advertising options (depends on the industry). But a larger number of SMBs are finding their traditional advertising publisher is the “onramp” to online marketing.

Will Print YP Suffer in Recessionary ’08?

January 11, 2008

The Kelsey Group has always been a staunch defender of the print yellow pages industry, its efficacy as an ad medium and its outlook. But, interestingly, the firm is now saying (via MediaPost) that the trend toward online will accelerate – at the expense of print. What’s interesting is not that Kelsey is saying online advertising adoption trends will accelerate (that’s clear from a plethora of evidence) but that the firm itself is saying so publicly that print is likely to suffer in ’08, both in terms of usage and potentially advertising.

According to MediaPost:

The Princeton, NJ-based local advertising research firm is pegging the falloff in usage of newspapers and print Yellow Pages to reach 10% this year–much higher than the 2%-3% fade rate seen in past years.

“In the past, small and medium-sized businesses have protected their print Yellow Pages investment at the expense of other media,” said Charles Laughlin, managing editor, The Kelsey Group. “(But) given the structural changes in the local ad market, we believe the next downturn will favor media choices that are more flexible and provide a lower cost per lead than print directories, which would signal a profound shift.”

If Kelsey is saying that print will suffer, then you know they’re seeing very strong evidence of that.

People keep asking about the mythical “tipping point” for local. It has already come on the consumer side. The Internet (which includes IYP) has become the highest penetration medium for consumers seeking local business information with print yellow pages second (per 2007 research from TMP Directional Marketing and, separately, WebVisible). However, SMB advertisers lag consumers, just as national advertisers do.

As the MediaPost article goes on to point out and suggest, a recession this year (we’re probably in one now) may further accelerate a trend away from print YP. This is a mirror of the national market, which will likely see traditional media suffer as some of those dollars shift to online. Newspapers will likely see this most acutely.

The thing that may help “insulate” print yellow pages revenues to some degree is the “agency” role that most publishers have cultivated vis-à-vis their SMBs. As print publishers become the gateway to online marketing for many SMBs, print advertising is a part of the overall package being sold. (It’s also the case that print still performs.)

However, we’ll have to see how bad the economy gets and whether, as Kelsey’s Charles Laughlin suggests in the quote above, more SMBs abandon print in favor of online, as a more flexible alternative.

Another potential issue for print YP is growing advertiser sophistication. Firms such as ReachLocal, Yodle, Weblistic,, Orange Soda, Innuity and many others are competing for the YP advertiser base. If the YP publishers “initiate” SMBs into online marketing can they retain them as all these firms come after them? In other words, YP may be privileged when it comes to the online marketing neophytes but once they understand the landscape will competing firms be able to steal some of these SMB advertisers away?

Video and mobile may turn out to be key strategic offerings that (together with print) help differentiate the YP publishers from their rivals.

What do you think?


Update: Here’s Kelsey Group CEO Neal Polachek’s clarification on these numbers (prompted no doubt by some unhappy phone calls received by the firm.)

Edgeio Shutting Down

December 7, 2007

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

According to TechCrunch, classifieds site Edgeio is shutting down after having run out of money. The site was targeting a global audience but was fundamentally local. Edgeio competitor Oodle recently redesigned and appears to be doing well. And the classifieds category continues to gain traffic.

Edgeio becomes the latest local site to shut its doors. Judy’s Book also announced it was closing quite recently. Before Judy’s Book, it was Backfence and InsiderPages, though the latter was technically sold.

The rest of this post is at SEL.

Battle of the SMB Profiles

November 29, 2007

Do SMBs really want websites or just need rich landing or profile pages — or both? I suppose it depends entirely on the business, their maturity or sophistication and their position in the market.

I was struck yesterday by two related announcements, one involving the Universal Business Listing initiative and one involving the Hostway Local Business Profile, which is a competitor of the Local Launch/RHD RegisterLocal Profile. There’s also MyLocalProfile, among several others.

The impulse behind all these products is the same: simple paid inclusion that pushes business details out to multiple consumer entry points and helps overcome market fragmentation. These products are cheap — some very cheap — but their ultimate effectiveness as marketing tools is unclear. As these products are more widely marketed and become known, they’ll become “no-brainers” for most local businesses. But most local businesses will also eventually be involved with more active marketing online, where they’re buying position, calls, clicks or all of the above.

The hallmark of the media market and local in particular now is fragmentation and all these efforts, from simplified search marketing (by ReachLocal, WebVisible, Yodle, Weblistic, etc.) or these profiles are intended to overcome that fragmentation and aggregate traffic. In effect they’re trying to put back together the Humpty Dumpty of the traditional media world, where everyone looked in the newspaper or the yellow pages for local information.

WSJ on Online Newspaper Prospects

April 24, 2007

Here’s a longish article from the WSJ on the apparently slowing ad revenue growth at online newspapers:

Last week, that lifeline began looking frayed. New York TimesCo. warned Thursday that online advertising growth this year won’t be as strong as the 30% it had projected. On the same day, Tribune Co. reported that the growth rate for first-quarter interactive revenue was sharply lower than a year earlier. Gannett Co. likewise said online revenue growth slowed in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Several other major U.S. newspaper companies have yet to report for the first quarter, including McClatchy Co. and Washington PostCo., although on Friday the chief executive of Washington Post’s online arm, Caroline Little, said growth was “slowing slightly across the board but is still very healthy.”

The explanation in a word — online competition:

Media buyers also indicate marketers are beginning to look beyond traditional journalism sites, realizing many news junkies go elsewhere, too. “Advertisers are getting less scared of blogs and newsgroups and now are beginning to take money away from the traditional newspapers’ sites,” says Greg Smith, chief operating officer of Neo@Ogilvy, an interactive ad agency owned by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, New York.

But there’s more complexity here too. The historical lack of reach of online newspapers and the challenges of buying placements (notwithstanding Centro) at newspaper sites has been a deterrent for national advertisers. Free sites and numerous competitors (esp. verticals) have eaten away at the newspapers’ ability to capture classifieds revenues online too. This is why the Yahoo! deal is potentially key but it’s not yet clear how it will all play out. Regardless, participating in some sort of network that makes it simple for national advertisers to buy local placements on newspaper sites is also key. Right now that looks like Centro or Yahoo! or both.

They could also work with Adify to rep other local sites and create local ad networks. And they probably need to rep local businesses (as some are doing with WebVisible) to the broader Internet. And they should work with AdMission to surface ads from other parts of their sites on their most heavily trafficked pages.

Newspapers have very desirable, high quality audiences. But in addition to some of the suggestions above they should create new online-only properties and new destinations such as what WPNI just did with Sprig or new local sites to really compete for ad dollars beyond their current footprints. I realize all these suggestions implicate scarce resources. Yet newspapers need to experiment and take some bold action — now.


Related: MediaPost on slumping real estate classifieds.

Quick Takes on Too Many Items

March 28, 2007

In the interest of getting paid work done 🙂 I have to provide some abbreviated analysis of a number of things I’d like to write more about:

  • Micro-local real estate site, StreetAdvisor launches.
  • Street-level 3-D mapping from Vutool?
  • UK online advertising spending has overtaken advertising in national newspapers per the IAB. Plus more bad news for US print newspaper revenues (though online up).
  • Tribune Co. is close to a sale and will reportedly go private. That could be good for the company, but quality could also suffer under an owner that may have no interest in newspapers per se.
  • YouTube’s mobile video site will launch in June when Verizon exclusivity expires. While mobile video is quite a speculative thing at the moment, despite all the investment and announcements, YouTube is a potential market maker especially with its “short form” content.
  • This site, “How to Get Your Business Listed Major Local Search Engines . . .” is valuable but a mess. Somebody needs to simplify, clean up and offer this directly to the SMB market.
  • Joost on AppleTV: very interesting. Here are all the competing devices that will put the Internet on your TV. Again, what will search look like on a TV screen? (Related post here.)
  • Korean “citizen journalism” site OhmyNews (much touted as a model) is unprofitable and in trouble. All those who uncritically celebrate this as the successor to professional journalism should take notice.
  • MarketWatch launches wisdom of crowds stock prediction and community tools.
  • The publisher of Child magazine has decided to go Internet only. And Time magazine, emphasizing video and its new site, kills Life (again). (Video is good but there’s a kind of knee-jerk, “me-too” over-reaction going on to current hype and trends.)

Bob ‘Chaos Scenario’ Garfield Redux

March 26, 2007

Bob Garfield is pushing his “chaos scenario” again. This time “2.0” in AdAge. It’s an interesting and at times provocative roundup of various trends and ideas: some original, some borrowed.

He predicts the impending demise of traditional media (at least its current cost structure) and the substantial migration of advertising online where it’s both harder to reach consumers and easier to target them (my paraphrase) because of verticals and “the tail.”

I don’t have time to critique these and the other ideas in the article at the moment. But the tail and the head need each other — YouTube without branded content isn’t as interesting, and vice versa.

Garfield’s piece, though I don’t agree with many points he makes, is thoughtful and interesting (may require registration). Garfield is partly being provocative for the sake of doing so and getting attention and advancing his brand. But he’s also partly summarizing things that are really happening.

Big media companies won’t collapse and all ad budgets won’t flow online. But we are now in this paradoxical universe where targeting is becoming more precise but audiences are fragmenting and it’s getting more complicated and difficult to reach mass audiences efficiently.

‘NanoNet’ Rich Media Local Ad Network

March 19, 2007

It’s a new rich media geotargeted ad network from Viewpoint. Here’s the release:

The Unicast NanoNet ad network is a turn-key solution that agencies and marketers can leverage to target customers in the top 20 designated market areas (DMAs) using rich media ad formats. Marketers and advertisers will benefit from the extensive reach of NanoNet, as it will allow advertising to be delivered through multiple publisher sites including news, lifestyle and entertainment sites that cater to a local population. In addition, NanoNet will give smaller sites that typically run static GIF ads an opportunity to serve rich media advertising.

iMedia previously published a “crib sheet” covering some of the local ad networks:

There are a few missing from the list. Indeed, even the local ad networks are starting to proliferate; time for a “meta-local” ad network. 🙂

Spending Starting to Shift for Big Advertisers

March 14, 2007

Articles in MediaPost and the WSJ (sub req’d), drawing on TNS data, reflect that among the top 50 US advertisers there’s a small but meaningful shift from traditional media to the Internet happening. From the WSJ article:

In a sign of how major advertisers are shifting money out of traditional media, ad tracking firm TNS Media Intelligence reported that the nation’s 50 biggest advertisers cut their spending on “measured” media such as TV, print and Internet display ads by 1.5% in 2006 — though U.S. ad spending grew 4.1% overall.

While some of the decline may reflect overall cutbacks in ad spending by big marketers, it likely signals that big companies such as Procter & Gamble are reallocating some of their ad budgets to new Internet ad venues which aren’t measured by TNS — such as paid-search advertising, social networking and online video.

Here’s a table from the MediaPost article:


(Further down in the article is a helpful chart on US ad spending ($) by media type.)

This follows the earlier announcement by Microsoft that it would shift most of its ad budget to online/digital media. Simultaneously, you’re seeing most of the major brands and marketers put their accounts up for review.

These trends together suggest a couple of things:

  1. Marketers are looking for more “accountability” (metrics/clear ROI)
  2. Their spending allocation is finally catching up to the migration of audiences online

Let’s be clear: a truly successful campaign will integrate and combine traditional media elements and online. (Here are data from BIGResearch that show how traditional media prompt online searches.) But the cost and lack of metrics and clear ROI (even at the branding level) of some traditional media is causing marketers to rethink ad spending distribution.


Related: MediaPost reports on gains for online display advertising. And here are the top online display advertisers.

Survey Gives Clues to Google Strategy, Products

February 27, 2007

Google has long had the ambition to be a single platform for media buying of all types. Its recent moves into radio, print and video reflect that. Today there was an interesting post (via SEL) on Reprise Media’s SearchViews blog about a Google advertiser/agency survey investigating traditional media ad rates and hypothetical advertiser interest in new products:

  • “A service [that] would connect advertisers to traditional offline media outlets (Newspapers, TV & radio stations) through Google’s online automated process. Advertisers will be able to bid in auction and to make offers for specific media. This technology seeks to simplify the process of selecting, buying, scheduling, delivery and reporting of traditional offline advertising”
  • “An online Creative Marketplace (where advertisers can specify the type of ads they want to be created, and then creative agencies can bid on the project)”
  • “Online Ad-Creation Tools that lets you create and customize your ads yourself”

AdAge reports that Google is “laying the groundwork” for TV advertising, and has already appealed to the Television Bureau of Advertising to build a platform that would “automate the archaic business of buying local airtime.” If this survey indicates anything, however, it’s that Google intends to build an advertising platform for all media channels.

Google’s ambitions are driven by revenue aspirations (and imperatives as paid-search growth eventually slows), a big vision and a recognition that paid search is only a small component of the overall ad pie.

Are You an ‘Ad Avoider’ or Merely Overwhelmed?

February 20, 2007

There’s a perfect storm happening. The confluence of user multi-tasking, greater consumer control over media and way too many ads everywhere is making it harder and harder for marketers to reach consumers and get their attention. There’s too much noise and clutter in the marketplace. Many people are overwhelmed and many just want to get away from all the ads.

MediaWeek (via LostRemote) reported on a study sponsored by Microsoft and Starcom that found:

[B]etween 10 percent and 15 percent of adults 17-35 fall into the category of “ad avoiders” i.e. folks that don’t like advertising, and generally find it “annoying.”

The two companies, after conducting a series of intense interview and observation sessions with dozens of self-proclaimed avoiders in Denver and New York, discovered two types: passive avoiders who simply can’t be bothered with ads, and active avoiders, whose message to advertisers is “be good or be gone.”

The active group is more likely to be young, tech-savvy men who deliberately consume media that has no ads, like DVDs and satellite radio. The passive group is comprised of women, often parents, who gravitate to leisure activities that are untouched by ads, such as books or board games.

But “ads are content,” goes the marketer’s refrain. Indeed that’s the genius behind directional marketing/paid search online – providing commercial content that is in fact “relevant” to my query. But paid search is not the future of all advertising. It occupies a critical place but it doesn’t do everything for marketers.

In the new cluttered and chaotic advertising marketplace there are many wacky experiments going on — everyone setting up shop in SecondLife, for example – that are trying to respond to the challenge of “getting attention.” Simultaneously, mindful of the challenges they face, marketers are calling for more targeting and more “accountability.”

If you were wasting half your ad budget before, it may be like 75% now.

iMedia summarizes an interview with TimeWarner CEO Richard Parsons on this subject:

Parsons said he realizes that there’s a proliferation of ways in which people access media but that no one media “is going away. I don’t think any of the new media is going to obsolete, necessarily, the old.” But there will be a diminishing number of people access the content in traditional ways, he said.

As a result, he says Time Warner must “be everywhere you are. It starts with quality content. What we try to do with all of our businesses… is to create quality content and then make sure that there’s a way to move that content to consumers on every conceivable platform.”

He’s saying two things: quality counts and we’re going to take a “carpet bombing” approach to distribution. I agree with the first point and generally with the second — publishers must diversify delivery of content but must do so thoughtfully and not “mechanically.”

I think the keys to making marketing work in this new environment of ad avoidance and media overwhelm involve:

  • Reaching the right audiences when they’re ready (directional media/targeting)
  • Quality content: the “product” must work or deliver as promised
  • Usability: accessing the information/product must be simple and effective
  • Community/social media: the community, especially trusted circles, filters noise but also creates, in some circumstances, “social pressure” around adoption or product use.

This last point is critical.

It’s easier to get my attention if you’ve got the attention of or “sold” someone I trust. People are using each other as filters for efficiency but also to cut through the noise and clutter of all the marketing messages — which have less and less credibility.

Google, CBS Radio and the ‘Humptinator’

January 12, 2007

Multiple outlets (MediaPost, TechCrunch, CNET, PaidContent) are reporting that there’s an imminent CBS-Google deal that would involve Google selling up to 10% of CBS radio ad inventory (worth up to $200 million) and potentially TV content, although that may not happen because of a dispute over revenue guarantees.

CBS now has a content deal with Google Video and YouTube.

Google is moving to secure “offline” ad inventory across a range of media types. Its newspaper “alpha” program apparently performed ahead of expectations and sold out quickly. Its radio program will kick off in earnest this year. YouTube and Google Video give the company TV-style ad inventory (especially when you think about YouTube on TV). And then, of course, there’s mobile.

By the end of 2007 or early 2008 it’s likley that Google will be well on its way toward fulfillment of its ambition to become a multi-platform ad network/buying entity.

I like to talk in some of my client presentations about how the Internet has disrupted the pseudo monopolies of traditional media and how it’s very difficult to “put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.” That’s just what Google is trying to do in a different sort of way: create buying efficiency and reach for advertisers that, in a way, replicates that of traditional media.

Except rather than calling it “Humpty-Dumpty” we might call what Google is building “the Humptinator.” 🙂


Related: Newspaper publisher Morris Communications has joined (via MediaPost) the Yahoo!-led newpspaper consortium.