communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.


Bet your entire money on Internet?

2009 has been a year when on several occasions I have had to look people in the eye and say, yes, we can do this without being 100% certain we could. It was also the year when, leaving behind the sweet non-committal years of strategic planning, I have had to put a price on what I believed to work or not.

Scamp places planners last on the list of people who should be asked to comment or have a say in the final form of a TVC (read here), and, somehow, he may be right because, unless the kind of planner you are makes you take responsibility for your recommendations, sometimes the environment can release you from the burden of a final decision.
Not so in 2009, when, after being asked how much I was willing to pay if my agency screwed up a project, I again found myself in a situation where the full burden of a budget was placed on one thing alone. In December 2009 I was asked if I thought replacing the full offline budget (non-trade) of an FMCG brand with online activities was going to increase its brand awareness and brand profile sufficiently to warrant a volume increase. In a crisis year.
I said yes and I am confident that we can make it happen BUT I find myself aware of the scarcity of tools at my disposal to give me the confidence I had offline that my answer was not hasty.
Think of these:
First, we cannot/will not/ have not measure[d] the impact of online over brand. Second, we have approximate tools to recommend media planning and split of budgets according to website clusters. Third, we are fully unequipped to complete the conversion funnel online for anything other than items which can be sold online. Fourth, we cannot measure something that has become more than 50% of the online time of users: social media. Fifth, most relevant social media channels are NOT monitored in Romania. Sixth, we are slowly but surely losing the credibility battle online now that concepts such as branded content, brand utility or brand spaces have but been buried by the financial crisis.
So, do I feel confident? No. Do I think I have my work cut out for me in 2010. Hell yeah! :D

A question of space on the www

A while back I spoke at Marketing Arena about the idea of Noise Brands: short-term, opportunistic brands built, Japanese style, on whatever is trendy at the moment. My idea did not catch with the audience but another one involving e-books, e-readers and the ability to place ads and comments into e-books seemed more convincing.

Recently I have been thinking about where technology is taking us, and also how, as human beings operating in given spaces, we are able to cope with this.
Consider my premises, which are simple and straight-forward: we used to operate within large expanses of space (we see ads in OOH format, we build mental images of brands based on imagery spilled out on planes and huge frontispieces), we are used to receiving information on uni-vocal channels, (images from TV, words from written pages without any other con-textual information, teletext never really caught on, nor did in-built multi-screen viewing). And then along comes the www and we have to start dealing with smaller screens, more than one type of information per screen, changing information per reload, multi windows etc etc. This is confusing and unexpected for the human brain. My mother is unable to follow the scroll bar on the computer screen with a mouse and she cannot grasp the concept of windows. She also does not see, literally, any of the banners in any Internet page she opens for a very simple reason: she is looking for text because, to her, the Internet is... a bigger book. Hence she is "blind" to any non-textual content displayed.
And now, my question is as follows: is the technology supporting the Internet, with its limited spacial display capabilities, able to support the huge amount of information we are trying to place on it? The iPhone is a hit because it makes browsing easy: meaning its lets the user slide seamlessly among dozens of pages of information and mind you, that is NOT a small screen for a phone.
Why did I start with the e-book? Because I wonder - what with e-reading becoming the new hit and the Apple tablet on the way (fingers crossed) - if we are not trying to cram too much into a simple act already. With Google's visual search, live search and word tagging apps e-texts can virtually become an exploded wikipedia, with EVERY word operating as a pretext for extra information. This information can be referential or ad-driven. And then it will be up to the user to fight the flood.
And I hope also up to the advertisers to not abuse the technological opportunities.


... (3)

Third year in a row with the resolutions already and, this year, for better planning, I am writing them ahead of time.

But first, a look back at what was planned for this year and what went down:
"So, for 2009 I am being more specific...a lot more. Here goes:
1. Get a second tattoo, my beagle and spotless bathroom tiling
2. Spend at least one week every quarter in another country (a new one)
3. Make a meaningful commitment to a person: friend, lover, pen pal, hobby partner, whatever.
4. Create a time-plan for my mom and dad (moving, new house, retirement)
5. Keep the business afloat.
6. Re-cultivate my planning roots.
7. Work out a solution for my blog/s – how many, in what language, what for.
8. Learn or teach myself something new ( and be good at it)"

So, how did I do against my 8 resolutions? Well, I have a new tattoo (and just so that I don't embarrass myself every time I get asked, it is a line from ee cummings' poem here) and my bathroom is spotless in new white and lilac tiling. I have spent more than a week per quarter in a country which is not Romania but not really different all the time (Barcelona and Madrid count as the same, so do Rome and Ventimiglia, Nice and Avignon and have successfully returned to my beloved London). I think I have kept the business more than afloat, with 2009 numbers doing better than expected (we rocked a 15% PM in crisis year, yeah baby!) and have decided to only keep this blog, make it in English and not give a crap about the people who dislike it. Things I have only partly done is spend more time with my mom and dad but I have managed to give my dad his most desired gift, a new car he can love and also, if you do not count business-plan-making a new thing, maybe number 8 is not totally completed as well. Unfortunately I have failed bitterly at getting a beagle and have completely given up that plan altogether. All in all, not a bad count.

And now for 2010, under the same brief, specific and measurable:
1. Stay committed to my blog and make it smart and interesting.
2. Write a book and refurbish my kitchen.
3. Grow the business by at least 20%.
4. Teach myself another foreign language and take up a sport and keep at it.
5. Visit at least one different city every two months.
6. Make that retirement plan for mom and dad already!
8. Do something silly and unplanned for every month
9. Start something which will enable me to work for me.
10. .... and something less specific about falling in love, happiness and silly smiles while thinking of that special person :D

Okay, so that should do it... Thanks all who've stuck with this blog throughout its latest rounds of uninspiredness and uncertainty and also to those who've stuck with me throughout my recent months of being tired, irrationally pissed off most times and less of the person I should have been. I am learning things and while doing so I sometimes am not my most gracious self.

Happy 2010 to all!


ON randomness

I am again speaking at Marketing Arena in less than three days. And, as always, I am paired up with a bunch of creative people which lessens my chances of ever making an impression.

So this year (suspense!!) .... I am going with the same recipe: logical deductions from existing data. Which usually gets me in the exact same place as last year - someone from the jury stands up and says, yeah but somebody is already doing this. [Of course, the assumption behind the thinking there is that we will come up with fully genius, completely innovative stuff :D which is always enough to freeze your brain for almost two weeks before the actual event...]
but this year I think I might have something good... and I have also thought of a smart way to present it and am also leveraging the risk of someone saying, yeah been there done that, by actually making it clear that some really smart people are doing that already. It's on using randomness in marketing.

Stay tuned for presentation on the blog but also, you might want to come by because it will be fun :D


On political communication in Romania

I am having loads of fun these days having stumbled on a couple of heated debates between people involved in working on political communication online. Most of them always track back to the Obama campaign in explaining why they are suggesting so many "innovative" tools to their respective candidates.
I remain puzzled for mainly two reasons:
1. It was my understanding that the major success for Obama via social/online media was NOT awareness but money - as it is normal online, where contributions are made via online payment tools, can be more easily tracked and more easily followed-up on. Plus awareness in a U.S. campaign is mainly achieved through canvassing and public shows as the nation is more of a "let's go and see the man" than a "let's watch TV and see the man" type. So, when using online Obama was less about awareness and trust and more about money.
[think about it, why bother with all those great speeches if online had been his main focus?:D]
2. It was also my understanding that online was used to obtain more specific information on undecided households and their direct permission to receive canvassing teams to get them to switch.

So basically, Obama did not use online for awareness but rather for persuasion, leads and closing. Weirdly enough (wink wink) this is exactly what online is good for.

So, what puzzles me is this:
- in Romania elections are swayed by semi urban and rural people who are less likely to miss elections because of bad weather [or good weather driving them to the closest mountain resort.]
- in Romania there is no system of online contributions for campaigns and payment tools are still primitive and more likely to be available to a small urban high education crowd
- in Romania there is no system of mapping undecided households based on IP or google maps or anything like that
- in Romania, by all logical deduction, Internet users are either:
a) smart enough to know better - forum goers, site readers and blogs and the such
b) stupid enough to not know better - forum trolls, social network afficionados and the such
c) young enough to not be able to (pay, vote) - social networks, video sharing sites etc
d) young enough to not care (ab politics, ab voting) - idem

So why are we constantly referencing Obama as a case study? We are unable to get people to contribute, we are unable to get their info to map out the country, we are unable to track their progress from undecided to voters, we are unable to make them care. The latter obviously has nothing to do with the tools of Internet but rather with the fact that online is a great "de-frauder" - meaning a medium where frauds are easily spotted and crucified. But the former are, I think, facts.

Somehow, I feel online is once more being used for insane "viral" tactics like attack TVCs which cannot be aired, games, pointless social media accounts. For the sake of this country, though, I hope people will not give their vote based on fun-ness.

Again the thrills of Marketing Arena

Remember last year? Marketing Arena and how you did help but we did not win because someone had an idea involving a hole? I mean come ooon!

Here I am again, again having to speak at MA and again, not really brimming with ideas. I thought of something and then realized the only reason I was thinking about it was that I had seen it done.
Plus, the organizers are asking me to write something worth placing in a banner [of course if you take the view that banners suck, then I don't have to try really hard... but I, unfortunately, believe that banners, when well made, work]
So now I have two challenges: make a presentation that will impress the audience AAAND get clicks...

bof. help. seriously

Performance based agency remuneration

"WTF?" you ask yourself.
Well, it's something ad agencies have been dreading for a long time and which is slowly but indomitably creeping its way up into our lives. And the ultimate proof of this "nemesis" is the jaw-dropping question I got from a client in a pitch. He asked me straight out "if you fuck up majorly, how much would you be willing to pay for it?"... fun, huh?
I initially thought, is he seriously asking me how much? Maybe he means will we feel bad? Are we willing to gather and take some criticism in a workshop? But no, the question he was asking me referred specifically to amounts of money we would be willing to pay back based on a clear evaluation of the damage our actions might create.
Agencies are not used to this. Actually we are seldom used to being evaluated on results alone - sales results that is. We like to make evaluation a combo of brand index, agency relationship, sales, reputation etc etc. Eventually, results, financial, hard-core are not really a major part of the evaluation process. And, get this, agencies only do evaluations to get bonuses. NOT to get penalized.
But with the crisis and with measurable Internet, the game is changing. Once you can evaluate your objectives clearly and numerically, you can also evaluate the cost per new customer and the money you are losing your client. So, by all accounts the client should be entitled to ask you to pay up.
And obviously there is the other view: you did do work. You do have to pay the people who did the work. You have to maintain revenue. Even if you screwed up, some work was put in the process, so its really confusing. Should you have done this work for free? If you make a sweater and nobody likes it, should you not pay the people who made the wool and the needles and who chose the pattern?

What would you have said, if someone has asked you "if you screw up my project, how much are you willing to pay me back?"


If I could make myself

I would be a traveler like him, I'd have the talented hands and sensitivity to the good things in like of a wonderful woman like her, I'd give myself a great curious mind like him, and add in touch of brilliance like his, and I would want to also be a seeker like her.
And obviously, I'd have a Mac. :P


Is advertising killing the concept of happiness?

Lately I have been talking to a lot of my friends about what being happy means. Somehow I feel that we are in the middle of a crisis of understanding what happiness really is and I have been, on occasion, wondering if advertising has something to do with this.
Think about it: advertising is built on the logical assumption that you need to create a need for something and instill the idea that satisfying that need is going to make you happy. Most ads actually work like that: you are having an issue and the product comes in a solves it and then you are happy.
But truth be told most of these problems are not real and by consequence the solution provides only temporary satisfaction because the next ad will only create a new desire to be satisfied. And also, truth be told, this is what keeps the market economy going so it's not all bad.
What I am concerned with is with the fact that we seem more and more unable to specifically define what happiness is because we have developed priorities which sometimes do not relate to who we really are. We are cultural beings and thus respond to cultural stimuli. Advertising is becoming a huge part of culture so it is generating a lot of the stimuli we respond to (as opposed to a while back when the only stimuli were basic human needs and stuff you read in books) and which mess up our radar of what we are really looking for.

Think about it: when was the one time you were you really happy? and why?


How to confuse someone

make them watch this first

and then take them to watch this



Interestingness in marketing is dead

well, no, not really. Just thought making the title more interesting would get more people reading :D.
But seriously, remember the good old times when internet was just beginning and the marketing of things online was all about new things and we had just realized that we were no longer competing with stupid TV content but with stupid youtube content?
Those were the days. Because while competing with TV content has proven somewhat of a smaller challenge - okay, ads are only 30 seconds so it's kindof hard to fight motion pictures but some ads out there really kick some motion pictures' butt.
It turns out that being interesting these days is becoming more and more of an impossible task. Basically because of "stupid" internet things. And it's not just that people who post things online are sooo much better at making more interestingness than brands. Actually, they are not, mostly. Mostly it's just silly antics and sexy stuff. And in a one to one contest brands would definitely kick these people's butt in quality and idea and all. So it's not about interestingness per se, but rather about the amount of time one is able and willing to devote to any kind of interesting thing.
Think about it: however cool and amazing one website might be you go back how many times? If you are in any way a real net surfer, it takes less than 10 minutes to stumble onto something equally interesting. I mean look at people who tweet about stuff as opposed to themselves: you can have up to 100 tweets daily about interesting things from all over.
Interestingness is no longer the issue. Lasting power is.
So, what can brands do?
Well, for one they can be consistently interesting, like all the time. But that's hard and if you think about it, almost impossible because people make brands interesting and people change. Your start copywriter gets a baby and no sleep and down goes the quality of your copy. Or your marcom manager decides he wants to become an entrepreneur and you're left with the stupid executive manager. So consistency in interestingness is almost untouchable (and consider global brands...)
They could also focus less on achieving interestingness at any cost and more on making sure that they provide users with more reasons to create interestingness themselves. I truly believe that crowd sourcing for interestingness is the next frontier for brands. And by that I don't mean give them TV ad cuts to make their own video but create environments for them to do things with your brand universe. Not sure where to go with this thought but seemed like a good idea at the time...

I am 30 and they make no advertising for me

I am 30. Jesus, this is even more distressing than I thought, saying it on the blog!! But I am, and somehow I feel that in this country I have been pushed into a demographic deadend. I am 30 and unmarried and have not definite plans to start a family - with kids and all that - soon and I also do not plan to stay in the same job forever and also do not think changing my furniture every year is trivial and lacking in financial common sense. I travel and like doing it and do not like to relate to my mom or my potential mother in law when i choose my detergent. I took out a loan to fund my one year abroad not to buy a flat.
My problem is that, although I am financially sound and interesting as a purchaser of things, nobody seems to give a damn about me. There is no advertising that targets me... in order to feel connected to the ads on TV, I should be married by this age, with a kid and a husband that likes sandwiches with either cheese or pate. I should do a bunch of laundry everyday and get love from my family because I use the right kind of softener.
OR, if I refute my age and assume I am still in the 20yo demographic, then I should want to download silly ringtones, pick up people on FB and eat loads and loads of chocolate or skateboard.
I do not exist as a target although I am probably the most likely to spend, uncontrollably and a lot. But I do not exist for two reasons: 1, because I am not statistically relevant as research only focuses on the golden mean, and 2, because I am not predictable, and, as we all know, advertising works with the mass and with the predictable. And it's not really even advertising's fault, because businesses need to have 5 year projections and someone whose career outlook is not predictable cannot function as a projectable source of income.
So, although I make more money than my mom and dad, more than my married friends and spend it all on me and my house, I do not count for the very industry I work in. Most websites are not for me but for 20 yos. Because they are future income. But I am not, because in the future when they will be able to spend I will be too old, or so I assume the thinking goes. So I am invisible.
Being 30 sucks... from a demographic point of view that is :D


Strategic planning in Romania - where to?

I have become very separated from planning in the past year because it seems managing a company is not a part time job :D But a recent meeting with some colleagues who are still doing planning as a first job reminded me of the good times and how we felt that planning could save the world.
Interestingly enough these days there is little talk about planning in Romania for obvious reasons:
- the crisis forbids development of the community of planners, it's hard to hire someone still considered a nice-to-have
- there is not enough know-how pouring in because people are stuck on day to day issues
- the former strong planning group is now focused on other things
This is not okay since planning is meant to help especially at times like these when the industry is at a loss. So, the opinion piece Stefan Stroe writes makes a lot of sense. While I do not empathize with all his points, I respect the insight behind: this is a time when planning should show what it's made of. And it is not. What are we going to do about this?

His full presentation below

How will we handle it when HI5 becomes mainstream?

There is an interesting "snobbery" being perpetuated in the marketing industry in Romania. We have two channels of communication which are being programatically ignored by most advertisers and most agencies: HI5 and OTV (local tabloid channel with huge audience). HI5 is, by all accounts, the largest online community in the country. Yet because people choose to feature silly images of themselves, which do no resemble the hygienic families in our ads, HI5 is deemed off-limits for any self respecting brand.
Now, HI5 is finally being monitored by the official meter in Romania - SATI - and the first reactions (on Twitter) are telltale: people are scared. We feel invaded by a world we feel alien and we resent the attempt by this "outsider" to fall within the limits of our prejudices. From now on there will be no rational reason to reject HI5. When monitored reach is huge brand compatibility is hard to invoke. So HI5 has made a clear step towards credibility.
Yet the questions remains: how will brands navigate this world they have nothing in common with? We make advertising for perfect human beings, for picture-perfect families and sometimes for funny people. But we have never made communication for people who do not relate to Grey's Anatomy, who prefer cheap novellas and listen to manele (local oriental-like music) on a daily basis. We do not know how to communicate with people who do not like Discovery. The edgiest we have ever gone is a tele-novella featuring gypsies on a national channel. But when edgy for us is premium for them, what will we do?

1. My first guess is that some extensive research should be done. On more than the "protected" demographic of Bucharest, where even the back of the neighborhood boyz are mainstream material. We need to understand what we are dealing with in point of cultural references and align our own with the ones of our target.

2. Second we need to understand that communicating for this target is not beneath us, that it does not make us worse people BUT rather it makes us better professionals.

3. And finally, we must internalize the idea that communication can reflect OR inspire and we can either give them what they know or show them something else they might like and we can live with.

I have a feeling of unease writing this, since I use "them" as a term of alterity, as if this target is somehow alien to what is mainstream and common. In the statistics of things though, and SATI will prove it, it seems that we are "them" and they are the norm.


Geek cool

Technology changes a lot and it is mostly expected to change the way we perform some strenuous or undesired tasks. Initially, computers were developed to do things human were too slow or to annoyed at doing because computers were able to do repetitive work without breaking down and screwing up. With the rise of computers a special community of people was born, those who could "talk" computer-talk, coders and tech specialists, who, because of their propensity towards long-nights in front of the computer, some lack of social life and the habit of speaking in highly specialized lingo became to be known as nerds or geeks. Interestingly enough, the term is a pejorative one as shown by the most common definitions that google provides.
BUT, the immersion of easy to use, shareable web 2.0 type of technologies into mass culture has managed to create a shift in perceptions and give rise to something resembling geek coolness. The power of being able to control the very essence of something that has come to be more a part of our everyday lives than TV - Internet, makes all this formerly-ignored community highly attractive from a number of points of view:
1. They can interact and work with the Internet
2. They may become very rich if they come up with something truly ingenious (witness the Google guys, Facebook creators etc)
3. They have developed a type of fashion that seems to catch on (message Tshirts, baggy trousers with loads of pockets) witness the google search
4. There is a big chance that infusing some geekiness will generate higher performance - as discussed in this Wired article
What makes this community so attractive is also its unwillingness to change and to become more like everyone else, thus displaying a form of rebellion which in itself is commendable. A questions remains though: this may be beneficial for the technology, but is it helping the rest? I work with "geeks" on a daily basis and so does anyone who has an IT department, and it seems that there is still a divide between the expectations of the two sides. Somehow both sides need to come to terms with the special needs of the other. And, however cool geek may be, I fear this process still needs to happen two ways, not just one :D


On a completely different note

In a world far far away people running a city think about using new technologies to improve the lives of their dwellers. Wonderful project from San Francisco authorities, a website gathering a variety of apps to help users with life in the city [details here]

Some of the apps include:

Crimespotting – San Francisco Crimespotting is an interactive map of crimes in San Francisco and a tool for understanding crime in cities.

EveryBlock – EveryBlock publishes a news feed for every city block in San Francisco. Enter your street address, neighborhood or ZIP code, and the site shows you recent nearby mainstream/blog news coverage, police calls, building permits, restaurant inspections and much more — updated throughout the day, every day.

CleanScores – CleanScores is bringing you the health inspection scores of restaurants around San Francisco.
EcoFinder – EcoFinder for iPhone and iPod Touch helps you find out where to recycle and properly dispose of just about everything. You select the material you need to recycle or dispose of, and the EcoFinder will show you the relevant businesses and services closest to you.

Routesy San Francisco – Routesy will help you find your way around the Bay Area’s top transit systems — San Francisco Muni and BART — in real time. Simply choose the line you want to ride, and Routesy will show you the closest stop or station, along with real-time prediction data to make sure you make it on time.


One should not look for excuses for one's country

I don't usually write about social and political stuff because I try to keep this as much a reflection of what I am doing professionally as possible. However, these days I cannot help noticing how deranged this country of ours is. It may be that I have developed a form of oversensitivity to real circumstances what with spending most of my waking hours surfing the Net to read about cool stuff, but somehow thing are amiss with Romania and I don' understand why.

If I was a comedian I would take solace in realizing that stupidity has an in-built comic element if you are not personally touched. Witness these...

1. Sector 1 City Hall is trying to be inclusive and allowing flat dwellers to vote for the color of the paint that is to be used on their building. Large billboards show pics of what the building will look like with the two coats of paint and you are invited to vote. The problem is the paint is the same color. Brown. Light brown or dark brown. Virtually undifferentiated. And furthermore, eventually the building gets painted
I am hoping this is a result of democracy and of people choosing neither light nor dark brown. And I am looking at the comic part of it.

2. The city reeks because of the uncollected garbage. And this morning I found what they came up with to fix this. No, it's not collecting the garbage: it's spraying the sidewalks with fragrance water. So now everything smells like dishwater..... and uncollected garbage.

3. Street cleaners: their job description includes the necessity of keeping things CLEAN. But they are picked from among the most unclean people possible (of course because no clean person would do the job) and they are not trained so if you watch them sweep, it's painful to see how much dirt they actually leave behind.

4. We are in deep deep financial crisis. So deep, jobbing websites only search for top management because all other positions are being made redundant. And yet the only thing the government worries about is elections and how to rig them. They do so publicly. They do so with such disregard to what we care about that it makes me sick.

I am tired of the stupidity and lack of decency in this country of ours. I am tired and disappointed and I would leave tomorrow given the chance, with one purpose only: to drag my parents out of here too.



This is something to think about. Hint: it has to do with the kind of education we give ourselves and our kids

"NASA did a long-term study decades ago where they tested a group of Kindergarteners on creative problem solving. 95% scored in the highest quadrant. Then they came back and did the same test every year with the same kids all the way through high school. By the time these kids graduated only roughly 5 percent still scored as highly-creative problem solvers..."

From here

A culture of "making of"

I spent some time watching the music+visuals of the various artists under AVmotional and one in particular got me thinking about the importance of the "making of".

But first things first, without any background I tend to credit MTV for the concept of "making of" simply because that's where we all started going behind the scenes of videos and what not. The idea of "making of" created the first real bridge between artefact - which was the musical or in any way artistic work, and the public. You could see how things were made and that created a form of intimacy with the artist. It also made the whole process more exciting because you got the see the workings behind the final result and sometimes even facets of that work you had not considered. It gave you a different perspective.

Somehow as time passed by "making of"s became as important as the product itself and with Internet I tend to think that the Making of is just as important as the work itself. Witness the Sony Bravia campaign where the first commercial was followed up by a teasing of the making of the second commercial. Also think of most of the eepybird experiments which are always presented in conjunction with the "making of'. The same works for Post-It experiments done by the same team. And of course, now we have "How it's made" on Discovery/Science.
In all instances the way the thing was made is just as interesting as the things itself. The making of becomes ... well, a thing in itself.

[PS: that's what you get from watching modern art projections all evening...]


Map of Twitter users in Romania

Not sure how accurate it is but I think it's a great idea.
Check it here
via Mishu

Of all the places to use the computer...

A while back I saw an insightful print from Vodafone UK with the headline "LOOSURFING". This got me thinking to the various places I have used to connect to the Internet. With some blushing I thought I'd make a list. I surf:
- while in the bathtub
- on the loo
- while I cook breakfast (well actually, then I watch TED conferences)
- in bed
- on the floor
- in the airport toilet
- in hotel lobbies
- hanging from the corner of a balcony to catch a free wifi
- on the sidewalk in front of starbucks
- in the mall loo
- in the cinema

Advertising yourself

Online is a lot about personal branding. Bloggers are essentially small brands and they make money like small brands, by co-marketing with bigger ones. So promoting oneself is actually business as usual - you do it via your social media accounts, through the blog, through images you upload.
But recently, one marketing manager chose to promote herself with the classical means of offline advertising: she needed a job and so she booked a huge mesh prism in downtown Bucharest which sent you to a website. They both said the same thing: "17 years of experience, 4 multinational companies, 9 brands introduced: Marketing Director Seeking Employment".

The initiative created a storm online with people speculating that it was: a) a hoax b) real c) a great guerilla campaign by a new jobbing service.Everyone was mesmerized by this, either because it was so daring and so crazy, or because it was so desperate and crazy. Eventually, pretty much everyone got convinced it was real (the person exists, people have worked with her).

But the question remains: WOULD YOU HIRE CARMEN?

There is always two sides to advertising and we never seem to understand which is the one that matters most, or that makes the difference. We have awareness, everyone is talking about Carmen and then we have affinity, the right people are saying the right thing about Carmen. Which is more important?
Awareness was achieved in this case: she got people talking. A lot. Mostly that she must be desperate, that the crisis was hitting deep, that she was taking huge chances, that she was paid to do it. Everyone knows Carmen.
But did she get affinity? Did her audience - CEOs in search of a marketing manager - understand that she was proactive [she did not sit on her ass and expect to be head hunted or simply send out CVs], and using the tools of her trade [she is a marketing manager, so she used advertising to market herself]?
This is where the connection breaks because if no one hires Carmen then she will have made the point that awareness/buzz is not enough and that her message somehow was not sent using the correct means or to the right people. Which I tend to think is the case. But what if, seriously, what if someone does hire Carmen? What then?
Then, we have two ways of looking at it: a) mere awareness is still enough of an incentive to buy or b) innovation will make a difference. Once. At least for Carmen :D


Things the Internet will kill

There's a list going around of things the Internet will end up killing. And it's a good opportunity for me to add something that I have been thinking of for a while now.

Some context: don't know about you but I have always lived with the fear that at some point I will not have anything left to do. I fear lack of purposeful activity so when I was at university I used to make endless lists of books left to read in case I had managed to be left without anything else to do. When doing my Masters in London, I asked my supervisor to enlist me for double the classes because the required number did not seem to fill my time. Later on, when I became an adult and got my first serious job I found myself again in that conundrum and quit that job to find another that would keep me busy as long as I wanted.

Today the fear of not having anything left to do/read/inquire about/search is meaningless. I wake up every morning at 6 and go to bed every night at 12 knowing that there are a million things to be done tomorrow and the day after. If I chose to not control it, life now would happen to me without me having anything to do about it. There is no respite. There is no time when I have nothing to do. Because of Internet.

For me, Internet has literally killed the idea of "mental leisure" - the option to be ON all the time is something I cannot escape. Even on vacation I need to find out more about the place, to post my thoughts, to post images, to write replies. I am connected and truly find that "the machine is using me" [like a famed viral said] to perpetuate itself.

so what about you: what has the Internet made redundant for you?


Internet's BIG IDEA for monetizing

Remember how everyone was hoping that at some point huge online hits like Twitter, Youtube or Facebook would come up with that BIG IDEA of how to make loads of cash in one quick move? Secretly we were all hoping for that because it would have given Internet that all mythical quality we all assumed it had.

Now Facebook has hit break even. How? Read this (and weep, because there is no big idea, it's just a combo of what Internet entrepreneurs hate most: advertising and gimmicks).

"Meanwhile, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg also made a significant announcement last week. This was not his revelation that Facebook now had 300 million users (interesting though that is), but that it has reached the point where its revenues now balance its operating costs. Everybody has been waiting to see if Facebook would hit on a Big Idea that would make it financially sustainable. What now transpires is that there is no Big Idea, just an agglomeration of small ideas like self-service (plus traditional) advertising, sales of gifts and "virtual property" etc which add up to a significant income stream."

from here


Protocols over people?

A while back I tweeted this: "protocols beats people", thinking that, if one has great processes in place, that could replace the need to recruit exceptional people all the time.
The trick with that statement is that protocols are seldom exceptional, and most often they are designed NOT to help but to cover up stupidity and faults.

Case study: five days ago my cable stopped without explanation. I checked my bills and saw that everything had been paid on time. So I called the operator to ask for a solution. The reply I got was that they would come by, but I needed to be at home for two hours when the teams were coming over, anytime between 9 and 17 which is, obviously, when I am at work. Since all I have pertaining to the cable company INSIDE my flat is a cable and a cable-ending, which goes into the TV, I protested and asked to be given a reason why they would need me home. My logic went that if they came and fixed the receiver box, which is outside the flat, I would be ok when I got home. Their reply was "it's protocol". So I stayed at home and got a buzz at 9 am the day established. A man with a ladder was furiously knocking on my door. I answered and he looked in with the words "so yer cable is not working?". I nodded. He said "okay, I'll check the receiver box" [again, which is OUTSIDE my flat]. Sure enough, two minutes later the cable was working. He came back and again pounded on my door to say "it's all fixed now".
This got me thinking: why wasn't it easier for them to simply send someone to check the receiver box without inconveniencing me with three phone calls where we had negotiated the day when I could skip work. By all accounts, if the problem had not been with the receiver box, it could only mean my TV was broken or the cable severed inside the house, and that was something I could diagnose. Plus, if the TV was broken they could do nothing about it.

The only logical explanation I have for this protocol is that they need to make sure people SEE a repair person so that they cannot be sued for not showing up or not giving a crap. It's self protection, the protocol is in place to make their lives easier, not their customers'.

So then I got to thinking about how many of the things we set up as procedures are really designed to help our customers or simply to establish a pattern which is safe enough for the company...



Webstock 2009 presentation

I spoke about this. It got me 30+ more Twitter followers which I ascribe to me saying swear words from time to time. Also want to make sure people got the message which is NOT "stop using social networks" but rather "be AWARE of yourself on a public space online"


Lego calendar

More at/From here
Guess what month this is? :D


A year later - Orange's new adv platform

Almost a year ago I was writing a blunt "I Hate it" post about the new worldwide positioning of, my then favourite telecom brand, Orange. I think it's smug to quote oneself but I was saying this: "The communication is bland, indiscriminate, boring. The commercials are like corporate presentation movies, featuring expressionless and uninteresting people. The OOH are stupid, uninsightful, lost in the noise."
A year on and I find myself looking back and thinking that I may not have been as silly as I was told back then. Back then, talking to a friend she saw amazing potential in the campaign, she saw campaignability and generousness, she made me think I had no clue.
Today the only thing that differentiates Orange's ads from anyone else's is, sometimes, the soundtrack (smugly and posh chosen tracks from smug and posh artists such as Nouvelle Vague, Jasom Mraz and such headliners at a possible smug festival in Bucharest). Sometimes the poorly understood insight with dreadful executions like the one about the pathetic husband whose wife won't let him do what he likes (where the pay off is "I am all the people who think they know better"). Today I remember every Orange ad, because it's just so under expectations. Common looking visuals, common looking people, septic environments, 80s style smiles and everywhere a non-sell non-telecom line "I am ...". I have no figures to support my claim but I know for a fact that I have not heard people talking about Orange ads for, hmmmmm, almost a year now. Back then the marshmallow duo was on everyone's lips, and the postpaid services with their eerie minimalistic executions were posted on artists' blogs.
I know it may sound biased because I work in an agency who works for the competition BUT Orange was my favourite brand a year ago, even with the agency working for another telecom, and I would have stuck with it. I don't do corporate brain-wash. Fortunately for my paycheck Orange did me a favor and turned bad. So now, I can be on-message with my agency: I have no reason to like Orange anymore.


Video online

Last night there was WebClub again and it felt nice to see everyone and go back to Colocvio. The topic was video and the panel was heavy with important people (Nicoara, Stanca, Biris, Stan, PA de Hillerin, Todi Pruteanu) who had something to say under the smooth moderation of Victor Kapra. The topic was video online and discussions ranged from who hosts it, what people like to watch most, is UGC relevant, how do we make video for online and of course how do we make money from it.
It took me a while to put all the ideas that were being thrown about in some order and also to make a summary of what seemed truly relevant.
What stayed is this:
- none of the local players knows exactly what to do with video online, except for maybe Orlando who understands that there is good content already available for online and all he needs to do is be the only one who streams it and gets paid for that
- premium content to be paid for by the user and advertising are the only two ways to monetize video right now (or ever, for that matter)
- nobody is really struggling to put video on your mobile because technology is not convergent and because simple internet on your mobile is not really raking in the shitload of money people were expecting
- producing content for online is something everyone is looking to do except that, surprise, surprise, it is not that easy to make, it's expensive and so far it does not pay off.
- if it has tits it has a better chance of becoming popular and the question are the tits we are paying for better than the free ones users post (okay, this is my silly take on the much sex banter there)
- everyone agrees that video is the next big thing

At which point I cannot help but wonder what the hell is going on and what are we really talking about. There seem to be 3-4 reasons why you would want to place [original] video online:
- no advertising during the show
- available anytime and anywhere there is a connection
- less legal constraints and more creativity (more tit-showing)
- instant broadcasting - no need to haggle with TV stations to use your content and less advertising money involved to promote it
BUT, in Romania fact is that:
- unless you place advertising there somehow, you will not be able to cover costs because nobody will pay for your content (and there was talk of inserting ads in the stream which by all accounts might be even more annoying that regular TV commercials)
- people, the big chunk of them, have fixed watching periods driven NOT by TV schedules but by everyday life. Prime time is called prime time not because TV stations decide to dump their best content there but because that's when, statistically, more people have time to watch
- so far there has been no online production capable of beating anything HBO produces :D

I think that people are looking online for things they would like to see offline but don't have the chance. Highest views are always for series we don't have on TV and someone has posted online from the US, movie clips, and stupid chimp videos. Fact is online is possibly just a means of getting to the video content that is forbidden to you offline. I wonder if someone had a hit online show what would happen with it. I'll tell you: it would get moved to TV. Effectively, online may be just an opportunity provider versus an alternative provider. So far. What are the other options?

Other points of view?


Social networks and personal life

We seldom talk about this because SNs are more about the future, making big money, cultural shifts, but how often have you thought about the deep impact they have on your personal lives?
I loved this confession here

"And then there's jealousy. In all that information you're posting about your life—your vacation, your kids, your promotions at work, even that margarita you just drank—someone is bound to find something to envy. When it comes to relationships, such online revelations can make breaking up even harder to do.

"Facebook prolongs the period it takes to get over someone, because you have an open window into their life, whether you want to or not," says Yianni Garcia of New York, a consultant who helps companies use social media. "You see their updates, their pictures and their relationship status."

Mr. Garcia, 24, felt the sting of Facebook jealousy personally last spring, after he split up with his boyfriend. For a few weeks, he continued to visit his ex's Facebook page, scrutinizing his new friends. Then one day he discovered that his former boyfriend had blocked him from accessing his profile."

If you think you are not part of this, think about the following:

- do you edit the images you post of yourself? do you untag unflattering images of yourself posted by your friends? do you sneak a peek at people's relationship status everytime you visit their page? do you check out your ex's page or do you try to see who they post wall-to-wall with most? do you sometimes play with your relationship status message just for kicks? do you post status messages with inuendos? do you comment on people's relationship status? do you post cheesy love songs?



Fun image of the evening

From across the pond - illegal downloads, a softer view

Romanians are famed for liking free stuff and that is why we do so many promotions and take so much shit from our consumers when they complain about the free stuff they get. We are a freebie nation and illegal downloads are part of everyday life because free is better than not free under any circumstance.

Interestingly, in a different world, not only because it's across the big pond, Faris thinks that there may be a different way of looking at this. While I find it natural to dig for the free stuff, he says
"Most people can't really be bothered to steal stuff, if it's easier not to, within certain price elasticities, I imagine. In fact, I reckon there will be room for free, ad supported and paid for versions of the same content to mutually co-exist, based on context." from here

I am trying to figure out the circumstance in which this could become a fact, an worth considering, fro Romania as well. First you would have to have relevant content and you really wanted, then you would have to have an easily accessible way of getting it at an acceptable price and finally you would have to have reliable and fast means of payment and delivery. Where we are right now? The only decent content I would pay for is foreign, there is no easily accessible route to it and I actually have to drive to pay for it or pick it up sometimes.

It's a sobering and hopeful thought however, that at some point, we might evolve to the point where the desperation of a few cents or a few extra minutes of waiting will not be so excruciating to us that we are willing to spend hours on end to find a free option.

Interesting things

From Noah who took it from here
"Why is it that everyone is so dead-set on having their children exceed them? From a logical standpoint, doesn't it seem hard to understand how everyone's children are going to advance forward? Especially when there are an exponentially increasing number of children on the planet; and at the same time technology is exponentially decreasing the need for human intervention in the production of our goods and services? As we go each day into the future we have more people to do work, while at the same time we have less work to do. How are we all going to find our kids well-rewarded jobs, when we just don't need as many people working?"


MMARG making a deep impression on socio-cutural perception

Went to the movies today and saw no less than 3 (!!!!!) trailers to movies connected to the idea of alternate realities and "second life" like situations.
Avatar (trailer below), Gamers (trailer on youtube has embedding disabled - BTW really stupid move on the producers part, but simply search Gamers trailer, and Surrogates are just three movies dealing with people leaving their real lives behind to start living in alternate realities. From the straight forward Gamers, where the plot is simple: one gets deathrow inmates to control via brain mapping and play in a bloody war, to the more intricate Surrogates where the real life human sends out a clone to live their life and finishing off with the much hyped Avatar, the concern of Hollywood directors is that technology is making people renounce their real lives to move to alternate realities where their powers are enhanced and their overall experience is heightened.

The topic seems to be endless, with Southpark also doing a hilarious episode on World of Warcraft (most disgusting scenes embedded below but it's really worth watching) and also, a similar topic under-running the script for Wall-e.

scary huh?

Respectful ad serving

A couple of days back I was talking about this and like never before discussion got heated up with some excellent points. If you don;t click on comments I am posting all of them here and then some more clarifications of what we might have been trying to say:

da, am zis eu ca se va ajunge aici, poate o sa te creada lumea pe tine :)


Anonymous Costin said...

Nu uita, ai decat 20% din idee. Nu e vina mea ca nu ai cerut mai mult :-P

PS. Blogul lui Costin este! nu mai are nicio legatura cu new-media de exact 6 luni si cateva zile! (Thanks!)


Anonymous Blegoo said...

Hmmm... no!
It aint' going to work. In real life, I mean. Take your blog: see at right certain book covers.
Doesn't bother me - wether it's ads or not. It's not intrusive.
I might even click on some...
But if you start STOPPING me from reading something... well, I don't care about this kind of "respectful ad"...


Anonymous Marketosaurus said...

Blegoo, o sa mearga clar!

Cine nu are curajul s-o faca pe motiv ca-s pierde cititorii, ala clar nu are valoare. Dupa cum am mai spus, la inceputurile radioului si televiziunii, aceeasi reactie a avut-o publicul, dar s-a obisnuit in timp si acum isi povestesc si parodiaza reclamele.


Blogger Bogdana Butnar said...

Costin, am modificat link. Multumesc de precizare. 20% din cateva milioane e bine :P
Marketosaurus, look at it this way - acum ai doi trei oameni in plus care au avut aceeasi idee ca tine deci poate se va intampla ceva. cumva ar trebui sa fie despre idee si nu despre tine :)


Anonymous Radu said...

Cu liniuta, ca la scoala:

- E dovedit ca userii au devenit imuni la display ads, sunt antrenati sa le ignore. De asta unii oameni mai destepti decat prevede bunul simt au introdus overlay-ul. Am avut probleme cand formatul / pozitionarea unui buton sau call-to-action se apropiau de cele ale unui banner, userii le ignorau instinctiv.

- E ca si cum m-as uita la un videoclip pe YouTube iar in mijlocul lui... zbang! pauza 10 secunde de reclama. Nu de asta migram dinspre TV inspre online? Nu de asta mai degraba ma uit la acelasi film pe TVR sau pe HBO decat pe Pro TV. E ok sa-mi servesti la interval asteptat si masurat dar nu sa-mi intrerupi experienta.

- Visual vorbind, ce tii in locul ad-ului "respectuos" pana iti dai seama ca omul petrece pe site tmediu + 1s? O sa-i afisezi peste content-ul pe care-l citeste ceva?

Don't get me wrong dar mi se pare mai lipsit de respect sa-mi intrerupi experienta / cititul / belitul ochilor cu o reclama decat sa-mi arati 10 din start pe care oricum le ignor din obisnuinta sau le blochez cu AdBlock :)

N-ar fi mai simplu ca advertiserii si publisherii sa devina pur si simplu mai responsabili si sa invete sa respecte userul decat sa reinventeze roata?

Iar ideea unui nou browser e... ceva deosebit :)

Poate am inteles eu gresit ideea...



Anonymous Marketosaurus said...

Bogdana, ai dreptate. Orgoliul e mare ce sa-i faci , mai ales cand esti luat in ras cu ideea de mai sus, ca nu e buna, ca mrr crr. Si mai ales cand esti ferm convins ca asta e viitorul advertisingului pe net.


Anonymous Blegoo said...

@ Marketosaurus: your reply reminds me of Adrian Cristea (back in the times of Netoo) - " wanna, or you don't - it's gonna happen!"
Well, we all know shit happens...

I agree with what Radu says on line 3; other than that, my objection is not with the idea, but rather with the way it will be implemented. So far, the formula Bogdana describes is the same as the one used on tv, right? Looks to me like another discovery of heated water delivered to consumers.

Tv is a passive medium, as we all know; pausing for ads every 15 minutes or so allows watchers to stand up, grab a bite or visit the bathroom.
Tv content is MADE to allow for advertising breaks. Movies, telenovellas,serials, etc - all these are designed to be segmented.
Do you envision articles written by Bogdana here (to use an example) in distinct paragraphs of, say... 20 seconds?
Say... I'm arriving here, I start to read... 30 seconds pass... BLAM! pop-ups, banners, etc - for 10 seconds...all over the screen. Is this what you call "respectful"?

Tv content is delivered at the same speed for everyone. Internet content, on the other hand, is more like traditional publishing; I might pause in the middle of an article to pick my nose or answer the phone. Or maybe I just have 4 tabs open in browser, and I move from one to the other. Technically, I'm still reading this article, right?

I'm not making fun of you personally, nor do I put down the idea just to play Gika-Kontra.

I'm just having problems with ideas not fully explored. I can continue to punch holes in your concept until tomorrow morning - but I'm sure that you can start discovering them yourself...


Anonymous Marketosaurus said...


well, nu stiu cu exactitate dedesubturile ideii Bogdanei, asa ca nu am sa raspund in numele ei. Ceea ce eu am scris la mine pe blog nu are deloc de-a face cu "respectful".

Vorbesc din punctul de vedere al unui publisher, nu mi-e deloc jena sa bag reclame invazive, televiziunile fac lucrul asta si nimeni nu se plange. E foarte simplu, bagi o reclama full screen cand vizitatorul acceseaza pagina. Apoi bagi cate 10 secunde la fiecare 5 minute. Ideal ar fi sa-i bagi vizitatorului reclama targetata, in functie de pagina pe care respectivul o viziteaza.

Nu cred ca idea are vreun punct slab, pur si simplu eu iti bag tie reclama obligatorie pentru ca pot, tu iti bagi picioarele in situl meu, te duci in alta parte si vezi ca si respectivul a bagat tot reclame obligatorii. Nu te gandi la chichitze, la subtilitati! Esti tentat sa crerzi ca nu merge. Daca gsp,prosport, realitatea, evz, cotidianul, neogen, softpedia samd adopta ideea, tu ce faci?

Iti bag reclame ordinare, plictisitoare, enervante, cateodata chiar reclame fun, iar tu vei trimite linkul meu amicilor cu mesajul "uitati aici o reclama suuuupeeer"

Cheia intregului concept vine din psihologie. Cand un lucru este impus ca fiind obligatoriu este mult mai usor acceptat.


Anonymous Blegoo said...

@Marketosaurus: Ei, deja vorbim altceva; Nici ce zice Bogdana, nici ce zice Manafu. Am sa ma mut cu latraturile la tine pe blog, ca devine oarescum... ne targuim pe ideea ta la Bogdana in curte. (ma si mir ca nu a dat cu pietre inca... :) )


Anonymous Radu said...

"Vorbesc din punctul de vedere al unui publisher, nu mi-e deloc jena sa bag reclame invazive, televiziunile fac lucrul asta si nimeni nu se plange.


pur si simplu eu iti bag tie reclama obligatorie pentru ca pot, tu iti bagi picioarele in situl meu, te duci in alta parte si vezi ca si respectivul a bagat tot reclame obligatorii. Nu te gandi la chichitze, la subtilitati! Esti tentat sa crerzi ca nu merge. Daca gsp,prosport, realitatea, evz, cotidianul, neogen, softpedia samd adopta ideea, tu ce faci?

Avem nevoie de mai multi oameni ca si tine ca sa scoatem online-ul romanesc din rahat.

Te rog, arata-ne Calea Cea Dreapta!


Anonymous Marketosaurus said...

Blegoo, ideea Bogdanei difera de ideea mea (cel putin prin prisma celor prezentate de ea) doar prin faptul ca la ea are o denumire mai putin invaziva gen "respectful".

Uite, ca sa fiu impaciuitor, sunt perfect de acord cu denumirea data de ea ;)

Radu, pe orice publisher il intereseaza sa faca bani, nu sa scoata o industrie din rahat, asa e peste tot. Totusi nu vad de ce "respectful ad serving" ar dauna onlineului.

Calea cea dreapta ti-o poate arata Bucurenci si altii care fac voluntariat, aici e vorba de revolutionat advertisingul online aka bani grei, iar mofturile utilizatorilor pot fi trecute lejer cu vederea. Sau poate tu preferi varianta hard a lui Murdoch in care ti se cere abonament?

Imi dau seama ca orice as spune, nu prea pot sa va conving. Dar repet, parerea voastra, a mea, nu conteaza aici, pt ca asa va fi! De ce va fi asa? Simplu, pt ca banul dicteaza mersurile in mainstream.

Va salut...respectful :D


Anonymous parvan said...

treaba cu "reclama ca pe Tv" nu poate sa ignore si comparatie de CPM -uri pentru ca de la idee la practica sigur se va trece prin asta.

in plus sistemele astea de care vorbiti ar trebui sa includa si variabila "timp" ... care momentan iar nu cred ca-s in favoarea onlineului.

predictibilitatea reclamei si usurinta de a o "skip"-ui nu cred ca este un atu al televiziunii (dealtfel nici nu identific demersuri ale teleiziunilor in acest sens)

Bogdana ... oricate "masuri miraculoase" am imagina ... fondul ramane acelasi: userii trebuie sa inteleaga ca pentru a avea acces la diverse forme de media ... acele media au nevoie de timpul/atentia lor pe care sa-l vanda pentru a finanta continutul.
Totul depinde de "valoarea" acelui timp cedat.
Advertiserii pot ajuta incercand ca acest timp cedat sa aiba si o relevanta pozitiva pt useri (prin targetare)... dar "acceptanta" depinde de noi toti ca useri si de modul in care publisherul ne convinge ca "merita".

So first, the good points of the above (if you don't speak romanian)
- where's the difference between Respectful and what is happening right now?
- it's no different from TV and TV ads are the main reasons we are migrating to Internet
- how is this going to be implemented, really?
- people need to understand that good content needs to be paid for.

Now, what I was thinking about is simpler. First of all, respectful ad serving is not about removing non intrusive ads (like the simple leaderboard and sky scraper), but more about - as the name says it - striking a respect-based deal with consumers. When they care about the content they should be warned that the time they spend will be interrupted. So the idea was to mark all participating websites with a logo. This logo would, for instance, start flickering when you are in "open for ad serving mode" - meaning when you've spent more than 15-20 seconds on a page. That would make you aware that "intrusive ads" are about to be served. You can choose to leave or, like in classical TV mode, wait to see what they are and then read on. the difference is in the manner you connect with the reader: you don't push your ads but ask for permission. Once there was talk of permission marketing - maybe we can do permission ad serving.

The thing is, people, asking users to pay for content in the form of micro payments like The Economist is not going to happen in Romania anytime soon. Anderson was right: digital is free so advertising is the only way to pay for stuff online unless we finally discover that magical monetizing method everyone is talking about. That we have developed immunity to online advertising already can only be a big problem and instead of continuously relying on the famed "creativity" we can try to brainstorm for smarter and less elusive ways to handle our customers online.

I am seriously open to more reactions and maybe we can do something worthwhile with this. For instance I am going to ask Manafu to let us maybe discuss this at Webstock. Anyone interested in doing a roundtable on this?

CLoser to advertising of the future

Remeber when Facebook tried to scan all your friends' links and generate ads based on their preferred locations? Well, we might have yelled back then but check this out: people can like or unlike Ads :)...are you telling me you will not click on something 39% of your friends have given a thumbs up for?


Respectful ad serving

Interesting talk tonight with Manafu, Sorin Tudor, Adrian Soare, Costin and Mihai Dragan. One idea stuck to my mind: serving display on a delay mode for readers who spend more than 10 seconds on any page.
The thinking behind is simple: with TV you accept advertising because it interferes but at measured and expected intervals. With online you don't because they come at you all the time with no regard for your linger time on the page.
So we implement something called "respectful ad serving" - meaning that large formats are only served if the user spends more than the average time on the page. The logic is that you are interested in that content and one is willing to accept advertising for content you are interested in. At the same time, respectful ad serving would also entail having one set timer for all large formats so that they go off in a sequence. Very much like the commercial break we are used to on TV.
One suggestion was to create a browser which would do exactly this: a simpler idea yet might be to get publishers involved in a "respectful ad serving" scheme.
I know lots of brands which would adhere to something like this only to be allowed to do display without being accused of being intrusive.


Browsers vs Seekers

I have been thinking lately about reader behaviour online. The thinking comes as a result of more and more people dismissing display advertising and requesting special projects. Now the trick with special projects is that unless you advertise them, they have absolutely no reach (come on let's face it, the Twitter community may be big but it can only do this much and forwarding it to your friends simply does not work) so maybe a solution is to work more coherently on making the display more effective.

The argument goes, however, that ignoring advertising online is much easier and much likely to happen since the advertising is played alongside the thing you are interested in and tends to move and flickr - most of the times pointlessly.

But this is where something interesting happens: when navigating, one can be searching for something specific or simply browsing. I have found that I am most likely to click on banners when I am checking out Facebook, because my commitment to the content there is minimal - I am not particularly keen to read all updates and am just skimming so my degree of openness to advertising content is higher. By contrast, when I read articles in news sites, I seldom, if ever, click on advertising because I am not interested in being moved away from the content I am reading.

So, one challenge maybe, would be for media to identify content with high seeker potential - meaning content that you must read consistently and not leave. This would probably be less likely to yield high CTR but would function well for branding and awareness. On the other hand, high-degree browsing content, meaning content you simply skim to get to something that might interest you, might work to attract more engaging display.
Just a thought.


Nice music for Sunday evening

Part of the global buzz

Thought I'd play my part. Happy Bday MJ and my all time MJ Top 3 :)

3. Because it's the best MJ had ever looked

2. Because I secretly do the dance when I hear it :-)

1. Because I was 12 or 13 and felt I should have been in love when listening to it

Spot the difference

Let's play a game. Spot the difference between:

1. An banner ad for the fastest Ferrari placed underneath an Andrei Plesu interview and a TV commercial for the Happiness Factory ran during a movie about Hiroshima
2. A contextual ad for a loan placed within an article about the suicide of a young loan officer and the celebration fest TVC for a beer placed during the news report about the bus crash with 13 dead
3. A banner which rolls over the text you want to read and a TVC which interrupts the movie you were watching.

Let me tell you, what the difference is: there is no "close" button on the TVCs.



The meaning of advertising

I got this interesting link from Zoso. This artist is mixing corporate slogans and Flickr photography in the avowed intention to prove this point:
"By remixing corporate slogans, I intend to show how the language of advertising is both deeply meaningful, in that it represents real cultural values and desires, and yet utterly meaningless in that these ideas have no relationship to the products being sold."
[Some examples above]
Naturally this sparks some happy grins on the faces of advertising haters because, lo and behold, someone has proved advertising is pointless.
This got me thinking what a vicious circle advertising is in. Companies make products but in order to make money these products are not all that special or all that different. Advertising is meant to make them different. But in order to make them different advertising cannot relate to something in the product (as shown above, economics prevents differentiation). Advertising thus needs to create something beyond the product to make it stand out. This has grown to be called the brand. A brand makes a product different but in order to stand out a brand needs to feed on its own difference and thus becomes ever more separated from the product is was created for. Eventually advertising promotes something which is very special but in very little ways connected to the product. So, QED the artist.
BUT, if advertising stuck to promoting what the product is then there would be only two options: EVERY PRODUCT would need to be very different or there would need to be so much fewer products and economics would suffer. Of course, there is the third option: no advertising.

In reality, advertising is a part of culture just like music videos and the reason it is so, it's because products are NOT so different, the marketplace does NOT work solely through direct to consumer and NOBODY would listen to or look at ads talking solely about the qualities of a product. As human beings, we have an inherent craving for stories and get them from every piece of culture be it movies, music, pictures or advertising. The trick, as with any artefact, is to make it good.