Julian Grainger

Category: internet advertising

A social future for old web names

The latest news of tumblr selling for 1.1B to Yahoo further pushes the old publishers into the new generation of technology sites that have failed to find revenue to support their ambitions. Instagram and Summly included. It’s not as if they are selling out for nothing either. These deals are significant in their size so to term them as aqui-hires or simply ways of larger web businesses staving off the competition would be to ignore the success each had in the short-term. There is more at play here.

In the case of tumblr it is an easy play for Yahoo to extend their audience network without having to pay a great deal for content over the next 3-4 years. In fact they have a willing workforce ready to push opinions and pictures for free. They need only wrap advertising around it an ever-growing independent publishing network. Whether they arbitrage the best of like YouTube does with key VBloggers we will wait to see but it may turn out a good move for Yahoo in halting the drain of eyeballs to non-traditional media sources. Social is Yahoo’s future.

Another relationship that is still flowering is the Facebook/Microsoft one. Microsoft only have a small shareholding but the relationship appears much bigger. Starting with the Skype – Facebook integration Microsoft seems to have made the bet that the social layer on Facebook will one day become an intrinsic part of its operating suite.

The recent purchase by Facebook of then Atlas ad platform puts Facebook in a better spot in proving advertiser value. Whereas the impending launch of Microsoft’s next 365 version sounds remarkably socially driven. It’s hard to believe these businesses aren’t closer than they currently appear. It looks like Microsoft’s future may be social too.

Google obviously has made no secret of their social ambitions adding a layer to their engine but it’s the sleeping giant of YouTube that seems to be the main push. YouTube still isn’t in the household box set yet but it is simply a matter of time. As they continue to add channels (subscription and free) the inherent social functions, UGC and on-demand nature of the site shows Google’s push. To bring on demand advertising alongside on-demand programming on any device. There is really just one device left for YouTube to dominate – the TV.

When you look at these suspects battling away it may simply become a matter of time until older names, older media start to turn their attention to sites that naturally fit their business. Like Twitter and News Corp perhaps?

What it does mean for sure is that social media is here to stay. That the players are finding ways to survive either by themselves with slight changes to traditional publisher business models or by ensuring relevance of older businesses by refreshing how that business communicates to and builds and audience.

I think what this may mean is one day a Twitter / News Corp tie up would seem quite natural. And accessing Facebook as a social layer on your virtual desktop or using Word to compose a birthday note within Facebook in collaboration with friends may become a reality.

The new news

Over the last few years the empires that used to deliver about 30% of the advertising revenues globally have seen that whittle away. Newspapers became a slow way to burn away cash. The new airline.

The model was broken and the number of unemployed journo’s starting PR companies and blogs skyrocketed.

But there is clearly a renewal coming and there are two themes coming through.

Theme number one is the move from the newspaper business into being a news business. The one quality that hasn’t changed is the ability to find and deliver what people should know. Rather than print delivery; this is now moving quickly into tablets and subscribed feeds.

By combining news with distributed delivery the cost of production that used to drive profit and loss is gone. Success is now down to good journo’s and not supply management. It means P/E ratios are a lot less but they will be more consistent. The fact that Buffet has started buying them shows the conservative investors realise the emerging business model is going to work.

The second theme is automated trading of online audiences. Trading desks use algorithms to find and deliver advertising at cheapest cost to an advertisers particular target market. This means you don’t need yahoo anymore to reach a particular critical mass. You can find people in multiple properties at a tenth of the price. And if yahoo is smart they will realise they can sell the people landing on their pages twice, thrice and for different purposes. Real estate becomes their secondary offer.

All of a sudden being a regional online  paper or reasonably well read news blog provides a revenue stream because you are downstream from yahoo. Advertisers are not looking at you for 500 clicks and 25 sales. They’re looking at the audience they need and buying from you because it is cheaper to get 25 clicks from you and your peers than going to yahoo. It’s the democratisation of the supply of eyeballs.

Yahoo still makes a lot of money though. You still need to build the audience pool and they can still deliver clicks. They get to cut and repackage the audience multiple times and benefit from selling the downstream.

Now these old school regional newspapers and new media bloggers have a critical mass of advertiser revenue to tap by doing what they do best. Delivering news.

Do it live and local and pieces of national budgets will come.

Reasons to believe and a 3rd moment of truth

Over the past 9 months Jo Parnell and I have been working on a new framework to bring together paid, owned and earned.

The framework is called creative media and identifies “unique moments” to plan media and creative to maximise online potential for brands.

The first pure application of the framework has been for Kettle Chips. The video below showcases this. We had clients (past and present) in the audience who have seen this evolve over the last year and it was great to hear the feedback.

All round a great day and the start of bringing traditional approaches to new media. Old skool for the new school.

The framework covers all media – paid, owned or earned – and we are seeing amazing success for our clients.

Unique Moments

Ray Ozzies pastorama

After having a giggle at FakeSteve, I checked out the post in question. Internet services disruption is a step back in time to 2005. It examines the landscape and opportunities available setting a clear direction for Microsoft in the next 5 years. Excerpts include:

The power of the advertising-supported economic model. Digital Advertising to rule them all. 

The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model. How search, blogs, fremium and closed-loop measurement and feedback systems will govern online consumption.

Not bad, in fact very spot on.

What really grabbed my attention was this “Maintaining continuous co-presence with intimate friends and family” online.

Pointed to as an opportunity Ray Ozzie was almost right. Except that continuous presence may also be any ‘friend’ from anywhere collected along the way. For Microsoft this became Xbox 360.

What also surprises me though was how they managed to miss the opportunity of in-game advertising. Massive saw it and profited handsomely.

I think this post teaches you that even when you  have the most visionary, intelligent people like Ray Ozzie working for you, other people can beat you. The organisation seems wanting in using this knowledge.

Another case in point?

The vision for continuous services, connected devices and seamless user experiences holding applications sold on free trial. Yet Apple beat them to that too.

Lube the user experience into pipeline marketing

Marketing has always been a tool for creating a sales pipeline. However, on online world it would be foolish to leave it there. In the ecommerce land we have a growing acceptance of pipeline marketing, which looks at every point in the buying chain and uses persona driven marketing actions to lube the user experience through to a purchase.

So what is it? It’s a communication plan that starts then follows the customer through to and often after purchase. The goal is to prompt the next phase of the buying process. Usually this involves three great marketing breakthrough’s of the 21st Century – a managed user experience, the email reminder and the email alert.

The beauty of pipeline marketing is that it provides verifiable, revenue driven, incremental gain from the natural feedback process it generates. This is a numbers game that that simplifies market planning. The above the line marketing throws customers into the sausage factory while the below the line marketing pushes them through the sausage factory.

It also fits the technology environment in which ecommerce exists – this shop is just a stream of code on a bunch of servers. And it fits your website design and build process as your customer service and sales force is an email server working on triggers based on the visitor persona and buying stage of the customer.

In this, part one of three; I’ll talk about how pipeline marketing fits into the buying process by identifying and targeting personas.

When your web design company comes up with the design concept; it’s highly likely they used personas of your customers to address the navigation through the website. Personas are ‘typical’ but imagined customers like a new prospect, a returning prospect, a new customer, or a returning customer.

Personas go into detail of that typical person– age, gender, task orientation, expectations and frustrations and are similar to what you might brief into an advertising agency. These personas have been used to design your website around their likely user paths to help them achieve particular tasks.

This is a persona of the prospect for online share trading:
Age:   30
Gender: Male
Online Experience:  High very heavy internet users – 73% of this group fall into the heavy internet usage category*
Income:  Have high personal incomes ($100k+)
Interests:  They are well versed in the happenings in the business market and veracious users of business media and their media usage reflects this. Love sports, cars etc and anything competitive.
Media consumption:    They are heavy readers of both newspapers and magazines – 45% read 6+ newspapers per week, and 60% read 6 or more magazines. They are nil-light consumers of TV and Radio
Online needs:    Want to get where they want to go quickly. All info upfront, nothing hidden. Self-service
Investment needs:    DIY investors that don’t like advisors and will not take advice.

Pipeline marketing also fits an alien concept to marketing – User Acceptance Testing – which is part of the website build process. UAT tests use cases or tasks created around the persona to discover whether the website has been built to do what it was envisaged. These personas identify who is on what page, why and where they are likely to go next.

An example is a sign up process. A use case walks the user through the task to see whether sign up can be achieved. However, UAT only addresses the interface and not the psychological inertia within the process. This is part of a larger buying process.

The persona works right through the purchase decision and the first visit to your website is likely to be in the first three stages identified above. So with the right carrot your pipeline marketing works on top of these stages to push the user through the process by addressing needs, frustrations and expectations.

In the case of the internet, most commonly the pipeline marketing is a tool for lead generation plus an email layer over the top of the online presence that overcomes psychological friction points by extending the initial user experience from the originating website.  My next post talks about this.

Please, not another mini-site

Raboplus vs Kiwibank. Two big banks with two big brands. Both are very well put together brands staking a position in the market that is unique and compelling. You just want to be part of them both.

But jump on the web and you can tell which one is really living the brand. In fact when you do jump; make sure it’s from their very good TV adverts to their websites.

The significant other at www.www.raboplus.co.nz, the clean and crisp message of ‘we just want your savings and a bit of fun on the side’ comes through strongly. Plus Ms Raboplus is nice to look at. Well done www.clicksuite.co.nz.

Now jump on www.kiwibank.co.nz to join the movement. Oh, sorry, you didn’t mean it?  Where is the movement bit? How do I join? Oh! It’s just an advert then. 

So it’s all bollocks, it’s not real at all, you had me convinced but you didn’t continue the story so I might just keep surfing. Nice customer experience. Not!

Oh, sorry, you wanted me to go here www.jointhemovement.co.nz. Oh no, another minisite.

Everyone keeps telling me that the brand is the strategic component of a marketing plan – the feel, the story and the promise. So what’s with building the brand around ‘the movement’ and then disconnecting it from one of the most visited components of the business.

The Kiwibank minisite is great, it does everything the main website does not in delivering the story and a compelling reason to join. But why put all that time and effort into something that is not your main website. Simple, either a real lack of commitment to the brand or a real lack of understanding of the importance of the internet.

That quirky, nice brand I like so much in the advert and on the minsite gets destroyed by the main website. Worse are links from the minisite going from the warm, cuddly environment to a sterile environment.

Check out the the process to apply online for a credit card. It wouldn’t be hard to phish customers between the two sites and clearly the bank has not thought of that. In fact, start your own minisite and claim to be a Kiwibank advert. Buy from a brand and customer experience some could easily be confuse the landing page on the main website to be a different business altogether.

Sorry guys and girls but you are telling a story, creating a vibe and providing a unique selling point that gets lost completely when the customer arrives in the hostile, barron territory of your main website. It is time to show some commitment and live the brand through the website. Raboplus and more lately, www.anz.co.nz have shown the way. They are clearly miles ahead in this department.

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