What is the “Point of Video” advertising?

Tod Sacerdoti, CEO of BrightRoll, sent me a note today about a new presentation his company just released that details why marketers should about attention to the online video advertising market.  Called “POV: Point of Video“, it includes some great stats such as:

  • Video is larger than Search (33 billion video views vs 15 billion searches)
  • Online Video Advertising will be a $4 billion dollar market in less than 4 years
  • Almost 178MM unique users watch online video each month in the US

Definitely a worthwhile presentation for anyone thinking about online advertising.  Plus Tod deserves credit for actually sending the email himself instead of relying on a PR agency to do his dirty work.  That wins big points in my book.

The full presentation is embedded below for RSS readers.

Super Bowl Ad shows Google’s move from Tech to Consumer Marketer

Back in 2006, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt infamously said that brand advertising was “The last bastion of unaccountable spending in corporate America.”

Yet during the 2010 Super Bowl, Google did what many would have called unthinkable just a few years ago… they ran a piece of brand advertising on the largest advertising stage in the world.

Supporting their Search Stories campaign, Google ran their “Parisian Love” television ad during the 3rd Quarter of the Saints / Colts Super Bowl.  Of course Internet companies have a long history of running ads during the Super Bowl.  And usually those attempts fail miserable (think Pets.com or E*Trade’s Monkey ad).

But Google’s latest effort is different than many of those failed Internet to Super Bowl Ads.  As my P&G colleague Stan Joosten wrote:

Google ad stands out – story based on emotions from a company centered around analytics. Sign of maturity.

Or take the point of Rishad Tobaccowala (from Denuo Group):

GOOG ad smart because it’s usage not awareness that matters. Most folks dont realize all one can do. Not even us “experts”

So why exactly is the Google effort a sign of maturity and not just another example of “unaccountable spending?”  From my viewpoint, the answer is in Google’s transformation from Tech Company to Consumer Marketer.

Ten years ago, Google was started as a pure tech company.  Their mission was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” while their name was a play on the word googol (the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros).

But today, Google is much more than a search company based on a great technology.  They are starting to truly become a Consumer Marketer, competing for the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers against fierce competitors like Apple, Nokia and Microsoft.

You see, the smartphone battle of the Nexus One vs the iPhone isn’t about technology.  Neither is the search war between Google and Microsoft Bing.

In these competitions, Google is entering the world of traditional Brand / Consumer Marketing.  Think Coke vs Pepsi… Bud Light vs Miller Light… or Old Spice vs Axe.  These classic brand battles generally aren’t fought (or won) on technology or performance alone.  They are fought with emotion, words, and stories.  This fact isn’t lost on Google and they proved it with “Parisian Love.”

So let me be the first to welcome Google to the world of Consumer Marketing.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.

See the full ad embedded below:

The new job of a Brand Manager is to facilitate conversations & community

What we really need is a mind-set shift…that will make us relevant for today’s consumers.  From ‘telling and selling’ to building relationships.” – Jim Stengel, Former P&G CMO at 2007 AAAA Conference

One of the most glamorous parts of a Brand Manager’s job has always been creating television advertising.  In fact, it ranks up there as one of the top reasons many became marketers in the first part.  After all, creating a television advertising campaign was something you could be proud of.  It was something that others would see and congratulate you about.  It was the part of your job that your mother would actually understand.  And arguably most importantly, creating a breakthrough advertising campaign was the single best way to grow your business.  If you could orchestrate an effective advertising campaign in the hearts and minds of your consumers, you could guarantee your brand success for years to come.

Recognizing the power of advertising campaigns, Bob Garfield and the folks at Advertising Age published a list of the Top 100 Advertising Campaigns of the 20th Century.  In doing so, they used criteria that included:

  1. If it was a watershed, discernibly changing the culture of advertising or the popular culture as a whole.
  2. If it itself was credited with creating a category, or if by its efforts a brand became entrenched in its category as No. 1.
  3. If it was simply unforgettable.

The list included such memorable campaigns as Nike “Just Do It” (#4), DeBeers “A Diamond is Forever (#6) and Burger King “Have It Your Way” (#24).  Interestingly though, only three of the campaigns in the Top 100 were created after 1990 (Got Milk, This is SportsCenter and Coca-Cola’s Always).

Even in 1999, this should have been a sign that times were changing.

Consumers were growing tired of fancy TV advertising campaigns and were beginning to tune them out even years before DVR’s started to penetrate households.  So while the leading advertising publication was celebrating the past, consumers were starting to look towards the future.  The glitz and glamour of orchestrating traditional advertising campaigns was starting to tarnish.

“Though consumers may be adept at tuning out traditional, top-down marketing messages, they’re proactively using technology to conduct their own brand research to decide whether or not to pursue a relationship…In addition, whether spurred by a user review, a Google search, a brand site or a mobile application, technology has created multiple entry points to engage with a brand. And although it may be hard for marketers to predict that entry point, it’s a safe bet the interaction will be digital. In fact, consumers’ first interactions with brands are commonly through digital technology.” – Bob Greenberg, AdWeek

If the time of orchestrating carefully managed advertising campaigns is coming to an end, what will fill the void?  As I’ve written before, the answer of course is digital and the ability it creates to facilitate conversations and community.  In the new world, Brand Managers will play the role of a moderator in the brand’s community.  These communities will help us co-create our brands while we incorporate their voices into brand-building activities to communicate a balance of performance and emotional attributes.

“Brands have to look at themselves as offering a service to consumers. What you do as a brand is going to be more important than what you say. In the world of Mad Men, the brands were the ones that told the stories about themselves. In this world, the best brands let the consumers tell the stories—and they talk back.” Nigel Morris, CEO, Isobar

A change in who tells the story

For the past 65 years, brands controlled the storytelling.  It was easy to push messages to people because we had a captive audience sitting in front of the TV.  And people put up with our commercial interruptions because in return they received entertainment.  But now, thanks to technology, consumers have taken back control and they are the ones telling the stories about our brands.  A new breed of Brand Managers recognize this fundamental shift and instead of fighting it, they embrace it.  They are joining in the conversations and using those conversations as the foundation for a community around their brand.

This requires a different skill set for today’s Brand Manager.  In the old world, we were trained on managing our agencies, writing creative briefs and evaluating communication ideas (ie TV spots & print ads).  In other words, we were really good at telling other people what to do.  But thanks to the power shift driven by digital, we need to stop talking and start listening.  And once we have learned how to listen, we need to strike up a conversation.  The shift is going to be in how we have that conversation.  We can’t show up at the party and just talk about ourselves and why we are special.  Instead, we need to let consumers talk about what they like and express their feelings.  Even better, we need to let consumers tell each other what they think without us interrupting (take a look at how Zappos uses Get Satisfaction for a good example).

The story they tell each other will be more credible and more believable than any story we could ever hope to tell them through advertising.

Take for instance the case of Innocent, makers of what they call “little tasty drinks.”  This is a company that is built upon the concept of facilitating conversations and community with their consumers.  As they tell the story of their founding:

“In the summer of 1998 when we had developed our first smoothie recipes but were still nervous about giving up our proper jobs, we bought £500 worth of fruit, turned it into smoothies and sold them from a stall at a little music festival in London. We put up a big sign saying ‘Do you think we should give up our jobs to make these smoothies?‘ and put out a bin saying ‘YES’ and a bin saying ‘NO’ and asked people to put the empty bottle in the right bin. At the end of the weekend the ‘YES’ bin was full so we went in the next day and resigned.”

Since that fateful weekend in 1998, Innocent has continued to make their consumers feel as if they have a vested interest in the company.  In fact, Innocent does everything they can to make people feel like employees of the company rather than just consumers of the products.  Take for instance these examples of Innocent facilitating conversation and communition:

  • Every year Innocent hosts an AGM (known as an Annual General Meeting to big companies…or A Grown-Up Meeting to Innocent fans).  At the AGM’s, hundreds of passionate Innocent fans have the chance to learn more about life at the company headquarters.  They spend the day talking about the business, letting the attendees vote on recipes to launch and even answering tough questions about carbon footprint.  At the end, the AGM is a celebration of the Innocent community.
  • In December 2008 the company enrolled the “wisdom of the crowds” in their traditional” advertising when they reached out to their fans through the Innocent News e-mail newsletter.  In the newsletter, Innocent asked fans to look at rough versions of ads and “Vote for your favourite, or tell us that you think they’re all rubbish and that we should do something with a dog dressed up as a sailor on a trapeze.”

But have these efforts to build community translated into a successful company?  Well in 2008, the company was selling over 2 million smoothies a week and had a 72 percent market share (according to IRI in August 2008).  Sounds like a brand can succeed without orchestrating expensive advertising campaigns.

Innocent is just one of many companies leading the change in how Brand Managers need to think about building brands.  The fact is that all of us need to understand that building a successful brand in today’s world means playing by a different set of rules.  It requires us to embrace facilitating conversations and community like never before.  It is a change that won’t be easy for many, but will be necessary for all.

And you wonder why a Brand Manager’s job is tougher today?

Shiv Singh pointed the way to a graphic that perfectly captures what Brand Managers are faced with today.  The complexity of marketing and media choices has exploded since the 1980′s.  But at the same time, this is what makes it so fun to be in brand marketing right now.


Brands I Love: Knob Creek tells the world “Thanks for Nothing”

Knob Creek Thanks for Nothing

I have to admit,this is one of my favorite print ads out there.  But then again, I seem to have a soft spot for great liquor advertising.

In the world of Consumer Packaged Goods, Knob Creek is going through what we call “allocation.”  And allocation is usually a bad thing for a brand… a really bad thing.  But the marketers at Knob Creek have taken the high road and used the shortage to reinforce their equity of “uncompromising quality.”  It would have been easy for them to start using some product that hadn’t aged the “full 9 years”.  But they did what is right in the long run for both their fans and for the brand.  That type of commitment to a brand is admirable and should be a role model for all Brand Managers.

BTW – Special thanks to Jason Falls for helping me get a digital copy of the above ad.