Can Digital Advertising Replace Traditional Advertising?

Digital Advertising

99% of the time. That’s my answer. Here’s why…

If we think about traditional advertising the channels include broadcast with television and radio, newsprint and magazines, billboards and out-of-home advertising, and finally direct mail. These are great mediums to reach a fairly large audience, albeit shrinking, which is extremely diverse in demographics, psychographics, and lifestyle. If we’re a major political campaign or major brand these channels are appropriate. All others – it is time to go digital.

Digital has received a bad reputation because of its infancy years. When digital advertising first started, it was in the form of banner ads. While these would be the equivalent of traditional advertising in reaching the masses, there simply weren’t masses in any one spot online to reach. The limited inventory of digital banner ads made them less effective than desired. Next, digital developed the ability to target. This is a great tool, but once again, it was not fully developed. The limits of early targeting did more to eliminate potential audience members than to include the largest qualified target audience. Again, it was too early.

Today’s digital allows marketers to perform the same tasks as traditional, and in a much more effective manner. The ability to create brand recognition by wide range exposure can be achieved through intelligent placement of online and mobile advertising within the most popular sites. Consider placement in these areas: online news media sites, weather, streaming video and audio sites including radio and tv sites, search engines, shopping & travel sites, oh and even dating sites. Throw the wide and varied social and network platforms in the mix and you’ve got nearly all of your target population. A broad enough online media plan will certainly create brand presence.

Advertising and marketing plans have been based on a few simple practices – multiple touch points, offers or enticement, and response mechanisms. No question, digital can win in this competition. The ability to have multiple touch points is certainly much more exceptional when we consider search, social and mobile advertising opportunities alone. The enticement or offers can be personalized in this space, thereby creating a much greater engagement rate, and of course the response mechanisms can be instantaneous.

Traditional advertising requires greater lead time to be able to place, realize and review responses. Your newspaper ad needs to be designed and submitted days before placement, television requires production and placement which is easily weeks ahead of placement. Again, while these channels certainly have a place, they have significant challenges.

Digital advertising can be created and launched in the same day, while more serious campaigns do require additional time of course. Campaign effectiveness can be monitored in a live environment, and of course changed at will.

Why is traditional so popular then? Easy – all clients understand it. How difficult is it to understand; you produce a tv commercial, pick the network and show lineup that you want to run in and presto, there’s an advertisement. You know the average viewership of that spot and the demographics. It’s not complicated.

Flip the channel to digital, and it gets a whole lot more complex. What type of digital ad are we placing? Will it be a banner ad, search, mobile? Will it interact with the user? Where will the ad take the user and what is the experience post-click? Is the placement based on demographics or lifestyle choices? Will we pay for the ad based on impressions (traditional media style) or engagements?

You be the judge. Here are two easy questions. You decide where to place your ads:

How many minutes a day does your target read a newspaper or listen to the radio?

How many minutes a day does your target spend online – desktop or mobile?

Digital has evolved, and it just keeps getting better.

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Tools Don’t Make You Talented!

Grab the baseball bat – now play in the Majors.

Here’s a scalpel – go operate.

Last night, I purchased a baseball bat. I’m very excited. Now that I have the right tool I’m going to play in the majors. Did you just chuckle? OK, maybe that’s farfetched. Perhaps, I will go purchase a scalpel. Then I can be a doctor. These may be extravagant examples of how having a tool doesn’t make you an expert, but think closer to home. What tools do you use everyday as a professional? If I purchase those, can I do your job?

Digital advertising works the same way. Yes, Google will tell every business owner that they can easily place ads with AdWords. Facebook will get in on that action too. What they fail to share is that these tools don’t make you an expert. Sorry, Charlie.

Strategy and Leverage. These are two words my office is singing every day. You must be exceptionally smart in today’s digital world. The number of media options and their complexity is overwhelming. Not to mention they change literally every day. We see clients waste time, energy and budget dollars, trying to execute digital campaigns in-house or candidly engaging the wrong talent. If you do not live in digital world, and I mean live there, you cannot do it well.

This world is still relatively new and is definitely still evolving. You must have a very well defined strategy when you start. Occasionally, a conversation will get struck up at a social gathering where some business person (or even marketer) remarks, “We tried Google advertising, but it didn’t work for us.” I casually sound surprised, and inquire a bit further, “Really? What part of AdWords did you use? PPC only or did you try display network ads? What about remarketing? What did the analytics show for conversion levels and where were the prospects dropping?” This is where the other party usually asks an important question, “Can I get anyone a drink at the bar?” as they slowly depart.

Damn, I didn’t even get to ask about impressions vs. clicks. vs. conversions. Let’s not even start chatting about mobile advertising. The tools supplied by Google or any platform are great. We love them, as professionals. If you’ve tried digital ads and they haven’t worked, ask yourself one question. “Do 99.9% of my target audience never go online, never use Google, never search, never use mobile devices?” If you answer yes, I will agree – digital advertising will not work for you.

There are tools beyond the platform itself that you use in advertising. Beyond Google’s AdWords or Facebook’s Ad Manager. Tools such as Google Analytics, SproutSocial, SocialBro, Hootsuite, HubSpot, Zuum, Raven, Radian6… and the list goes on. Every tool has a unique purpose, and is extremely valuable. Here are a few areas to consider when selecting tools:

–       Identify target markets and where they live online.
–       Measure sentiment and response rates based on messaging not numbers.
–       Measure activity beyond click.
–       Determine the buying habits as driven by digital ads.
–       Review cross-channel changes when running digital ads.

Tools don’t make you smart, and they don’t give you talent. You must still have exceptional knowledge on creative, copywriting/messaging, user behavior, audience demographics and socialgraphics, numbers and analysis, and much more. Frankly, you must also know what’s possible in the digital world. Here are two examples that I’ve encountered in the last month:

REAL ESTATE – A high-end builder had several properties they had constructed near a lake region. They were targeting individuals who would most likely purchase the homes to be used as second homes or vacation spots. The sales cycle for these homes was anticipated to be long. They were targeting affluent purchases out-of-area (within reasonable drive), and knew that given the remote area, seasonality, etc. it would take quite some time from inquiry to purchase and sale. What they did wrong:Remarketing was not being employed. They were driving people from their PPC campaign on Google to the web site. That’s great for step one, but what about all the people who did not complete a form? Remarketing allows the builder to target their ads across a network while the user surfs other sites on the web. A constant reminder that they were interested in this luxury lake property. Simple and effective, yet the builder had no idea.

MANUFACTURER – A very specialized commercial equipment manufacturer was attempting to drive leads for its salesforce through PPC advertising in Google and Bing. The statistics were very disappointing. They were successful getting visitors to the web site, but yielded no conversions in the form of inquiries. A closer look revealed that the messaging was targeting users of the service of the equipment they manufactured. The ads were not speaking to the businesses which would purchase and use the machinery to provide that service. The campaign message was not correctly drafted to target the right audience.

I’m sure I would have encountered these people at a networking event or social gathering and they would have said, “We tried that, but it didn’t work for us.”

To be strategic in this realm you must have exceptional knowledge and talent. It is highly complex and still evolving. The reason you see some businesses knock it out of the park is because they leverage their assets. We firmly believe that every action should yield a measurable reaction, and every great action creates a series of subsequent actions. Leveraging your campaigns and the efforts you invest in developing and executing these campaigns is essential to getting yielding even greater return on the investment.

We believe tools provide leverage. Perhaps it’s the ability to distribute content further and faster. Maybe they provide measurement and reporting which then improves campaign performance. These are great assets to increase efficiency and information gathering and use.

Tools fail to give you the strategy and talent you need to do marketing well. Just as a surgeon cannot operate without a scalpel or MRI, marketers cannot be successful without our tools. But you better be smart and talented to be any good. You do what you do best, and we’ll do what “wedu” best.

Digital Marketing is NOT George Foreman Style

easelly_visual (3)You cannot set it and forget it when placing digital advertising. Whether it’s pay-per-click (PPC), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization  (SEO), Mobile Ads or even social media platform advertising – IT IS COMPLEX!

You must constantly be placing and testing, measuring, revising, and repeating the same exercise. Yes, you can fine tune advertising by finding a sweet spot that works, but you will not stop there.

The opportunities are incredible – place ads targeted at your email list. Yes, you can truly do that. Remarket advertising targets users who have been to your site and already perused products or services. At our fingertips is a world of demographics socio-graphics, lifestyles choices, and much more.

If your ads aren’t performing – don’t say “digital ads didn’t work for us.” Instead find a better agency.

Killing Time Creates Marketer Value

There was an article in the NY Times today. (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/banned-on-wall-street-facebook-twitter-and-gmail/?ref=technology) It covered the ban on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like from Wall Street’s corporate firewalls. The reasons are somewhat obvious – they want the employees 100% focused on the work at hand and are hyper sensitive to security. Let’s face it, information is equal to profits in this world.

The article got me thinking though. First, the old-school in me says, “I understand.” The new media age dude in me says, “Oh, Please. You can’t stop it so don’t fight it. Find a way to embrace it.” Regardless of whether you agree with these policies, there is a reality here that marketers have realized. A few minutes can be a successful engagement.

As one of the workers mentioned in the article, they oftentimes have to sit around and wait for a supervisor. This may be just minutes or longer. In the interim, most people – pop online. This is true for a lot of things – waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting for a subway, waiting for a boss, waiting for lunch, ….

Waiting equals an opportunity to have an engagement that yields a sale. The impulse buys of Giltman, Rue La La, and these daily special sites is not so much riven by the email at noon and great discounts. Oftentimes, the discounts aren’t discounts at all and these savvy shoppers know that. However, it’s an instant offering of an appropriate product for the audience, with an easy mechanism to purchase and ship. Click, click, click, done. Box arrives.

Mobile strategies must embrace this type of sale. Online strategies can help promote related products, entice you with further deals, and drive further filling of the cart. Mobile strategies can tackle this only so far, but the important step is to get that first sale. Win the client. Share a positive experience. Have the opportunity to engage yet again, another day.

For mobile – KISS is the best approach. (Keep it Simple Stupid) in case you didn’t know. Here’s the test… What can a person achieve in 3 minutes on your mobile app? If they can’t easily complete a sale – you lose.

Mobile Platform Predictions

You want to do an app? What platform are you creating it for – Android, iPhone, Blackberry? Oh, and remember there are multiple platforms on blackberry too. It’s a hard decision for businesses to make. The irony is that businesses are challenged to put marketing dollars toward anything new, let alone an app. Some marketing professionals may tell you to do all three platforms at the same time. That may not be necessary. Certainly, each platform has its own following, and some people are diehard loyalists to their platform. iPhone users are more loyal to their platform than android users, for example. You’ll have converts on both sides, but overall this doesn’t affect your choice of platform for development. Here is a graph of the leading OS by application revenue http://mobeeler.com/?p=29 which clearly shows the iPhone at 47%, Android at 36% and RIM at 7%.

If the question is “what platform should your company build an app for?” – ask your audience. Ask them what their devices are. Look at your email campaigns. Email campaigns can measure open rates by the device that was used to open an email. Run a few mobile competitions – txt to win/enters, and learn the source of your clients’ key clicking. There is no sure fire way to know which platform would be right for your development, but these certainly help choose a direction. Eventually, if you’re successful, you should be developing on all the platforms to engage all audiences.

B to C (business to consumer) will typically have to release on all leading platforms and usually from the launch depending on advertising campaigns behind the launch. Any significant investment in a blitz advertising campaign is in great part wasted if you’ve selected only one OS which, as seen above, regardless of which one, will not even capture half the mobile audience.

B to B (business to business) can oftentimes release on a single platform and use the knowledge from that launch to improve and continue development for future launches. One platform is feasible for development because B to B advertising can be targeted and is less expensive overall. One platform is more successful in this marketspace for a few reasons; it’s easier to identify the targets’ device preferences upfront, adoption of the app is more clearly known, and sometimes, gradual release of the app (free version, pay, super-pay) provides ongoing engagement/advertising opportunities and even development recommendations post initial launch.

It is a hard choice. One of my predictions is that Blackberry which operates on RIM OS diminishes over the next couple years. Without a doubt, it needs to reinvent itself. For developers it’s a more difficult environment to program in, it’s inconsistent from device to device within their own OS, and even the user experience is not overly positive. I state this despite their rise in quarterly earnings. The last quarter earnings results released June 30, reflected $4.2 bil. RIM’s revenues are actually still growing. However, they continue to fall short of analysts’ expectations and grow at a much slower rate each quarter. You’ll also notice they no longer report on the new subscribers – one can only speculate why. At $4.2 billion I would hope you could still turn a profit. Mind you, they also have $3 billion cash on hand. Even with all this, I suspect they have an uphill battle ahead of them. We should probably compare their cash on hand with Apple’s $75 bil.

More CEO’s and executive level players are demanding their IT departments accommodate the iPhone and Android platforms. Without getting detailed there are important items to note about this trend. This is a fundamental shift in how email and data access is handled, more with the iPhone, but for both platforms overall in regard to security. The “cloud’ is making it easier for these departments to comply with the requests and to do so more easily in some cases. Surely, as security walls continue to be hacked and even worse – targeted, executives will need to be smart in their demand for IT departments to adopt these other platforms. The demands will still be made, but the implementation time will be longer. The executive suite will drive the direction of IT and if they want access through their iPhone or iPad, they will get it. It’s not my intent to imply these devices are not secure. They simply haven’t been the standards on which most IT infrastructures have been built.

Blackberry is paying attention. This is clear by their recent inclusion in the purchase of trademarks and patents made available at the auction of Nortel Networks. They participated with six companies, led by Microsoft and Apple, in acquiring the patents and IP of the now defunct Nortel Networks. Total acquisition was a mere $4.5 billion. Not a bad value for a defunct company. There are many reasons to purchase these patents. Some companies will use the patents to initiate law suits against potential infringements, others to prevent potential infringements, and of course the obvious, but ironically probably least important reason of actually using the value of the patents for development.

Some people probably hope the internet and public will ultimately create a single standard platform for development. The cloud, which is all too loosely a used term, will help in creating web based standards, but the advantage of apps running local to a device will prevent a standard from being implemented. Not to mention the driving factor of good ole worldly capitalism.

There are pluses and minuses to each platform and these will continue to be developed and exploited. Consumers like selection and to make choices based on their own personal needs. Each platform will continue to adopt its primary audience – gamers, business executives, general consumers, lifestyle enthusiasts, etc. while of course trying to steal a few of the others.

As I look around the coffee shop I’m working in, I see a plethora of devices. While the iPhone appears to be dominant in this chic little spot of NYC, it’s not always. The burgeoning market for smartphones clearly states – get mobile. If you’re struggling with the platform requirements and costs of an app then at least make a web based mobile version of what you’d put in an app. These sites are widely popular and extremely successful. Some may say the ability to point to them in email campaigns to introduce your audience is even more easily achieved and successful than trying to get users to download an app. Ultimately, the app still wins. After all, it gets to sit on the apps page of your mobile device where you will visit everyday.

Think twice, but jump in the mobile waters.