Center >> Advertising
Advertising Analysis Paralysis
In the quest for metrics, are we stifling innovation
and forgetting how to tell stories?
not sure when spreadsheets became a must-have tool for publishers,
advertisers and their agencies, but it’s getting tougher each
day to separate the media people from the bean counters and number
crunchers. A byproduct of the Web’s legitimacy as a mainstream
medium is that everyone from the CFO, to the marketing director,
to the account executive to the media buyer is getting involved
in the marketing process and they’re demanding “metrics”
24/7. That’s great for Excel lovers. No so great for the rest
Publications recently surveyed 300 B-to-B marketers to find out
how well they thought they were doing. Turns out half (49%) gave
their online marketing efforts a grade of C or lower. Imagine what
their prospects think? And may I ask what you’re all measuring
so intently? That online advertising works?
Based on the
conversations I’ve had with our clients and agencies this
year, it seems those who are most anxious to get their weekly (sometimes
daily) click tracking reports from us are the ones least likely
to answer my basic question: “So what do you guys do with
all this data?” Usually an awkward pause ensues or a mumbled
comment about a boss needing the data ASAP for a budget meeting
ask: “Now that you have all the clicks, opens, impressions
and pass-alongs from your campaign with us” can you tell me
what kind of conversion rates you’re getting from our readers
on the back end?” Another awkward pause follows.
that smart. But I’m smart enough to know where to find the
smart people and this is some of what they’ve shared with
me. If you’re trying to develop a campaign that’s really
going to “break through” to business professionals,
then you might want to read on.
great that everything is so measurable on the Web. Unfortunately
we get bogged down in metrics and that tends to stilt innovation,”
noted Steve Weitzman, CEO of CMP Media at the Business
Marketing Association’s monthly breakfast roundtable earlier
this month in New York City. CMP is a leading producer of magazines,
Web sites and events for tech folks.
zeal to get our value proposition and ROI across, have we forgotten
how to tell a good story?” asked fellow BMA panelist, Deirdre
Bigley, IBM’s Vice President of Advertising and Digital
Media. “If you’re not engaging the prospect, they’re
going to skip over you. You have to produce interesting and compelling
content and do so, on a regular cadence.”
looking for a utility in Excel that enables you to do that.
have so many more ways to reach their audience, it’s not the
same as before,” said Bob Felsenthal, Publisher
of Media Business Magazine, who moderated the BMA roundtable. Felsenthal
pointed out that online advertising has been growing at 27 percent
a year — five times faster than the overall business advertising
economy — and now accounts for eight percent of the $24 billion
spent annually by B-to-B marketers. A half decade ago Web advertising
accounted for about one percent of the total. In the mean time,
print media, the largest component of B-to-B’s $9.2 billion
spending total, has been essentially flat (0.1% growth in 2006).
is clearly the ‘at-work’ medium,” said Geoff
Ramsey, CEO, of research firm eMarketer, who was also a
panelist at the February BMA breakfast. “Most business people
are online daily, and two-thirds of them are online at least two-and-a-half
hours per day. No other medium comes close to this kind of ‘mind
share’. Online weaves across the whole purchase cycle, especially
the pre-purchase information gathering phase.”
The BMA panel
agreed that “sponsored content” is becoming increasingly
important to B-to-B marketers and eMarketer research shows that
e-mail, Webcasts, Web sites and search engines are now rated among
the “most effective” marketing tools it tracks.
eMarketer, more than half (53%) of the business audience watches
Webcasts versus 22 percent of the overall U.S. population. Among
“at-work” viewers, 72 percent consider Webcasts “very
convenient” and 44 percent say they find them effective. What’s
more, 95 percent of business viewers view the archived version of
Webcasts, rather than the live versions. Thanks to the Web, consumers
are taking control of the content they want and consuming it on
their own terms on their own time. They no longer accept having
your message pushed at them.
has always been about getting qualified buyers and sellers together.
“Nothing’s changed about that, but the Internet has
leveled the barriers to doing this better,” said CMP’s
Weitzner. “The Web used to be part of the Experiment Budget.
Now it’s part of the core marketing mix.”
the size of a company influences how likely they are to adopt new
media advertising. CMP’s smaller advertisers have actually
been more likely to cling to print advertising its larger ones.
They don’t have the Experiment Budget. The larger guys have
a better understanding of the ‘customer buy cycle'. They’re
not just looking for quick leads. They’re looking for full
and strategic integration of their media spend, Weitzner says.
has been great for separating the ‘tire kickers’ from
truly interested prospects. It’s also made marketers more
accountable and responsive to potential customers. “The Web’s
great for qualified lead generation, but you better respond within
24 hours,” cautions Weitzner. “Otherwise, you have pissed
off prospects on your Web site and probably telling public forums
about your follow up performance.”
From TV and Video
said IBM is borrowing from television and magazine journalists to
show the human side of IBM. “We’re like ‘brand
journalists’ now and believe me, it’s not easy. We’re
trying to take one good story about what IBM’s doing to help
the world and move it across multiple platforms — video, TV,
print, the Web and so forth.”
still in the early stages of online video,” said eMarketer’s
Ramsey. “We’re still trying to figure out the business
model, but storytelling by advertisers and agencies will be huge.
Unlike television, [online video] is much more measurable. Much
For B-to-B marketers,
the difference between the Web and other media is that on the Web,
it’s not relaxation time, you’re still at work, said
CMP’s Weitzner. “Marketers have to figure out how to
be in context when they deliver their messages to busy people at
work. The key is not just will they watch it? It’s how will
they watch it?”
on the Web
Is it possible
for business marketers to accomplish brand building on the Web?
Steve Rappaport, Knowledge Solution Director for the New York-based
Advertising Research Foundation, thinks so. I caught up with Steve
on the train to work last week and bent his ear for a few stops.
not sure that the distinction between brand advertising and lead
generation/direct response remains as meaningful as it once was,”
Steve said. “Online advertising’s interactivity and
involvement is moving marketers to new models, such as Engagement,
that blur the boundaries of these traditional functions. Because
customers now have greater choice and control in dealing with marketing
communications, savvy marketers recognize the need to make it worth
their while by creating and delivering compelling brand experiences
that inform, entertain and educate in ways that lead to purchase,
retention and loyalty.”
Hmm. Any examples
of this? “Sure. VISA USA’s Business Breakthrough
program provides one example of this approach. In just three months
it generated two million site visits by small business owners who
sought to engage with the brand, not just for card services, but
for business insight. That’s more than just branding or direct
Steve is one of the authors of “The
Online Advertising Playbook,” published by John Wiley
& Sons 2007. If you’re serious about taking your Web advertising
results to the next level, you should get yourself a copy.