Friday, August 31, 2007

Google Moves toward Behavior-Based Targeting

First of all, apologies for my less than prolific output recently. Working on a book on social media marketing and it's taking a lot of time. Hope to have it finished in the next 30 days.

In the meantime, news out of Google that they are working to introduce behavior-based ad targeting. They made the announcement very quietly. Perhaps they fear a backlash from privacy advocates.

I could see that backlash coming, but frankly I don't get it. As a marketer, I look at behavior-based targeting as sort of the holy grail. Advertisers get to reach the people they really care about, but equally important, the ad recipient sees ads that are most likely to interest them. Lots of surveys have shown that people use ads to help them make purchase decisions. They like ads about stuff they like. They don't like ads about stuff they don't like. Easy enough. Behavior-based targeting does exactly that.

Maybe privacy advocates don't realize that they are already leaving big, giant, easy-to-find tracks all over the web. (Look at all the murder trials where they go back and reconstruct exactly what the person did on their computer after the crime.)

Good for Google. We can already do behavior-based targeting in TV, radio, print and direct mail. A few firms have it for the web. Good to see Google in the game.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Michael Vick's Apology, Crisis PR and the Analysts

Michael Vick apologized today for his role in the dogfighting scandal. In a press conference, he stood up, without notes, and accepted responsibility. Does it make it right? Of course not. But it's been a while since we've heard a complete apology from a public figure who has been busted. Take a look:

PR experts were saying he's toast (and maybe he is), but going up there, without notes and just talking for a few minutes was the best possible thing he could do.

Lots of people think crisis PR people can get you out of a jam. They can't get you out of this. When you've done wrong, and as wrong as he has, this was the best possible thing he could've done in the hopes of salvaging his career in a year or so.

My two cents. What are yours?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Creativity" in Ads May Be Linked to Media Buying

In an earlier post, I've talked about how important the media buyer is to the creative team. No matter how creative the ad, it does no good if it's in the wrong place. Now, new data from Tivo is providing further proof that the "right" ad in the "wrong" place is not worth much.

Would you believe that the top three least skipped ads among 20,000 Tivo families were for:

Not particularly "creative", not funny, not touching and not big budget, the Cort Furniture Rental spot shared these attributes with other winners. They tended to be straight forward and, most importantly, relevant to their viewers (that's where media buying savvy comes in).

A Bowflex commercial running during professional wrestling was one good example.

Watch for more segmentation to come, not just among stations, but WITHIN INDIVIDUAL SHOWS. Digital signals will allow one type of household to get one TV spot, while another type of household can get another TV spot, even during the exact same show, at the exact same moment.

Yeah, best be nice to your media buyers...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Disposable Branding: Pepsi's Ice Cucumber

Brand managers often think in terms of slowly building a brand, nurturing it, trying to get it to permeate the public consciousness and then protecting it at all costs. Nothing wrong with that.

But there's a growing number of experiments in the power of limited editions. Most recently, Pepsi unveiled a pale green drink in Japanese convenience stores called Pepsi Ice Cucumber.

Within weeks, all 4.8 million bottles of the "summer beverage" had sold out.

Pepsi didn't make anymore. They "kill[ed] off a product at the peak of its popularity" to quote Business Week.

It seems to me that in an age where Starbucks permeates every corner, where Wal-Mart in Scranton, PA looks chillingly like a Wal-Mart in San Fran, we're all hungry for something that's different and unique.

Pepsi spent two years developing this soda flavor and, right now, they have no plans to launch it again. But with Pepsi Ice Cucumbers selling on eBay for $4.50 a bottle, this type of fad marketing could do as much to help Pepsi's overall brand as any TV campaign could. It's also very good to have something like this for PR coverage and to generate blog buzz.

What do you think?

~Jim Tobin
Life Is Marketing

Thursday, August 16, 2007

4 Fun Ads for a Friday

Sorry for the fewer postings recently, but I've been swamped the last couple weeks. I did want to do a quick post showing four fun print ads for you to enjoy on a Friday morning, to make up for the four horrible TV ads we looked at last week. Here goes:Full credit to Technospot, who collected all of these and 11 more. Check them out. Have a great Friday.

~Jim Tobin
Life Is Marketing

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Marketing is about much more than ads

I've been on the road a lot these last few days--including today. The other day, I dropped off my rental car at Enterprise in Romulus, near the Detroit Airport. Not only was I greeted nicely, but it was about 2:00 p.m., I had a flight to catch and I'd not eaten.

The woman told me to board the second shuttle, which was on it's way, but then pointed me to a grill where they were grilling hot dogs. They offered all the customers hot dogs, with all the fixings and bottles of water to take with them to the airport.

This is not only marketing, this is really good marketing. Despite the fact that I just got the American Express Platinum and that gives me free club access to some other rental companies, I keep going back to this Enterprise, because they always greet you quickly, offer you a bottle of water and get you on your way.

Congratulations to the Enterprise team for making sure that marketing goes right through to the customer experience.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Worst Recent Advertising?

Slate has a recent post in which they suggest the worst ads currently out there. Here are a few of them. Which one do you think is the worst?

"Filet-o-Fish": McDonalds

"Chicks with Swords":

"Blowfish, Lobster, Skunk": Vagisil

"Oreo Pizza Mustache": Domino's

Take the poll on the right hand side of the screen? Which ad is the worst of the worst?

~Jim Tobin
Life is Marketing

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Revenge of the Media Buyers

In a lot of agencies, the creative team gets all the glory. They create the spots that make people cry, make them laugh, make them buy... They write the ads that win at Cannes, that win Addys, that win Tellys.

But often it's the media buyers who have the real power. If they buy the right shows, the right space, the right type of media, the great creative gets its chance to shine. But now the website Oddee shared these examples of ads where the media buying was probably not as careful as it could've been. And the creative message definitely changed as a result.

So remember, be nice to your media team... Or your creative might end up licking a garbage can... You can see more of these at Oddee.

~Jim Tobin
Life Is Marketing

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Volkswagen's Latest Crossover is Bourne Spot

A "crossover" used to mean a cross between an SUV and a minivan, but the new VW spot for the Touareg 2 may redefine the word. 80% of the spot is a movie trailer for "The Bourne Ultimatum" featuring footage of Matt Damon running from crooked police in, of course, a Touareg. But then, there's a brilliant 2 second shot of another guy, looking at the car and uttering the "Holy..." This is, of course, the signature line of VW's powerful earlier Safety Happens campaign.

The ad, done by Crispin Porter out of Miami is part of a much larger $40 million deal between VW and NBC Universal. That's why you've seen VW's in movies from "You, Me and Dupree" to knocked up, but the team is doing more. VW has movies on their website showing how the stunts in the Bourne movie were done, and much more.

The ad is a great surprise with VW going from subtle product placement to movie star in a couple of seconds. This is a great example of outside-the-box cross promotion thinking, and it's getting some good attention in the blogosphere around the globe: Link 1, Link 2.