Friday, November 13, 2009

Media Innovation - C Squared's Festival of Creativity at Marketing Week 2009

Charlie Crowe, CEO of C Squared, a company that celebrates global media innovation could have (and would have) spent the entire day showcasing brilliant work from every corner of the globe at Marketing Week's Media Day last Thursday in Toronto. The presentation was bursting at the seams with award winning creative executions from C Squared's 2009 Festival of Media Event in Valencia, Spain.

Crowe inspired the 400+ attendees by demonstrating how creativity is the currency for breathing life into traditional media and that fueling this new currency is critical to the new era of marketing.

I caught up with Charlie later to delve deeper into the subject of innovation and into the trends that are emerging in the media landscape.

Because the day had been peppered with publishers highlighting the increasing thought leadership and flexibility they are providing marketers, our discussion started with the obvious trend towards disintermediation of agencies as publishers continue to develop their full service strengths.

Cathie Black, President of Hearst Magazines presented a great example of this. Black told a story of how Cosmopolitan Magazine the world’s top selling women’s magazine was able to provide P&G with a valuable research platform. The publisher recognized its strength in having unique access to the minds of women and was able to serve as more than just a media vehicle. By surveying its readers, the publisher delivered an unparalleled caliber of qualitative data directly to P&G.

Charlie said that he’s not met a single publisher whose strategy did not include a plan to target clients directly. Disintermediation has been a long-standing issue for agencies as they struggle to maintain their relevance and prove their value.

There are a number of reasons why publishers have developed their sales teams to become more innovative in their service to marketers:
  • Dealing with agencies can be time consuming. Presenting ideas to creative teams as well as media planners and in some cases, account managers can create confusion a lengthy sales cycle.
  • Direct communication with the clients allows the publishers to get a better understanding of the marketing challenges and gives them a chance to prepare more innovative solutions that sometimes bend the publisher's agency rules.
  • Customization of content is much more readily achieved when the clients are in direct contact with he publishers. This is specifically true in magazines and other print.

Adding to the pressure on agencies was Crowe’s observation of a whole new breed of publishers. As brands begin to get a better grasp of their own reach and markets, they too are seeing opportunities to sell media. Crowe gave the examples of a well-known European ice cream company selling advertising on popsicle sticks and of a company that sells ads on their packages of cigarette rolling papers. Earlier in his presentation, there was an example of advertising through airport security bins. The point here is that fragmentation is much deeper and wider than the proliferation of TiVos and online media we’ve been analyzing to death and that the fight for consumer attention is truly relentless. The competition is lurking in a much higher volume and through much smaller channels.

When I asked Charlie to share some ideas on how marketers can stimulate innovative initiatives within their organizations, his advice was simply to attach a budget to innovation. Taking at least 10% of an annual marketing budget and using it for innovation with a back-up budget to support any run-away hits is the ideal scenario.

Charlie also touched upon the notion that brands need to be fully developed and understood before they can afford to flex their big ideas. When a brand attains self-awareness, its natural self-confidence shines through and earns the right to give consumers the gift of entertaining and engaging experiences that often fall outside of the conventional means of advertising.

Talking to Charlie about innovation in media left me feeling inspired and positive about the industry. Too often, we feel a sense of urgency that pushes us into a dark creative corner. Charlie echoes the sentiments of his company's Festival of Media event - to celebrate innovation and to ignite a global wave of creativity that will bring the media industry to new heights.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Digital Day Toronto - Snap Shots of Now...

It was Marketing Week in Toronto this week. Digital Day drew almost 500 attendees and was jammed with colourful presentations from a number of industry leaders and visionaries.

Perhaps it was the event’s theme question “How do we focus our digital efforts” that inspired such down to earth and practical presentations. The line up included representation from all walks of digital from Social Media, Online Video and Mobile to ecommerce and Digital Signage.

The morning kicked off with Kevin (@Nalts) Nalty providing some from the trenches views on what it takes to participate in online video. Nalty is a well -seasoned marketer with a background in pharmaceuticals and CPG and is one of the most-viewed YouTube personalities. This combination clearly brought some great insight into how Fortune 500s can balance the basics of online media with the newer emerging initiatives. I’ll be writing more on Nalty over the next few days but a great line from his presentation was “It’s not an impression unless it makes an impression”. This was an excellent line to describe the migration from traditional CPM buying to creating more advanced media initiatives.

Steve Levy, President of Canadian Market Research, Eastern Canada of Ipsos Reid gave an insightful presentation on the Pulse of Canadian Digital Marketing. Levy revealed that email had completely penetrated the nation as an acceptable form of B2C communication (80% of Canadians sign-up to receive communication) and that companies were taking email initiatives back in-house from the agencies. This theme came up again in the Search Marketing data as he shared that companies are getting more involved in this discipline.

Sears Canada and Canadian Tire, two of Canada’s eCommerce giants sat on a panel and agreed that labeling their businesses as “eCommerce” was becoming a bit outdated. A more holistic view of the business is more appropriate and as with any other business shifting deeper into the digital channel, they voiced some challenges involved with driving the operation to focus more intently on its online presence. When asked about local media initiatives, Chris Thompson, Vice President of Canadian Tire Online expressed that a lot of focus has migrated from Yellow Pages to the free Google Maps service. When you’re as big as Canadian Tire, with search budgets touching thousands of product skews, Google kicks in the labour required to maintain the local listings.

I managed to listen in on a few of the breakout sessions. Igloo gave a persuasive presentation on the use of social networking software to fodder Enterprise 2.0. A great quote jetted around on the Twitter broomstick “If HP knew what HP knows, we'd be 300% more productive." - HP employee via @igloo”. We’re still in early days in terms of understanding a return on investment but there was general consensus that building a collaborative environment was a step in the right direction.

GestureTek’s President, Vincent John Vincent showed some innovative uses of Gesture-based Interactivity. The integration of games and mashing of data like Google Maps was clearly in swing at GestureTek. The presentation gave case studies that showed how interactivity could be implemented to enhance user experiences in-store or outdoors. This category showed clear growth.

Jonathan Lister, Managing Director and Head of Google Canada gave a great talk on the effect that offline media has on search. He cited a Koodo mobile campaign that showed an 800% lift in search terms as a result of a flight of TV ads. Superbowl advertisers saw a 122% lift in searches on their brands following the TV ads. Lister didn’t miss the opportunity to communicate that “data beats opinion” and that “qualitative Media is critical” today. Another interesting observation he shared was that there is a strong trend in finance specialists moving into the digital media space as a result of the numbers game it appears to have become (in Google’s view).

The final keynote was a riveting talk given by Dr. David Weinberger, Author of Everything is Miscellaneous and Co-Author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Weinberger defined markets as conversations. The Internet and the conversations it fodders now enables markets to form based on common interests. He went further to describe these markets as "ripples". These naturally formed markets have time as an added dimension creating a constant movement based on the ebb and flow of interest levels. A great example of this was of parents with sick children. This interest group is as passionately engaged with the Internet as a source of information and communication as it is transient. The market while constant, is made up of social members that come and go.

Today, markets are emerging without the help of marketers. Weinberger described the traditional ways of defining targets as creating “fictional markets” that are based on “demographics that may be susceptible to the same messages”.

I’ll follow up with a lengthier discussion of this talk as it delved into the importance of transparency and its impact on communicating effectively across the online channel.

Truly fascinating and forward thinking content...