« March 2006 | Main | May 2006 »

April 2006

ADI for Online Ad Measurement

In an interesting follow-up to my last post, Marketing Evolution and InsightExpress today unveiled a joint initiative to make the effectiveness of online advertising more comparable to traditional media.

The approach - dubbed ADI because it combines elements of Insight Express' Ad Insights and Marketing Evolution's I GRPs - mixes pre-testing of the creative component of online ads and the ongoing tracking of online campaign ad effectiveness with new data for estimating the reach and frequency of online advertising campaigns.


BIMA: Data Integration and Operations

BimaLast Thursday night I attended a Boston Interactive Media Association panel on Data Integration & Operations called How to Avoid Paralysis of Analysis.

I was hoping to glean some insights into how local marketing professionals are tackling the challenges of measurement, analytics and ROI in a business environment where the return on marketing is increasingly scrutinized.

The panel was moderated by Shar VanBoskirk, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., and made up of the following individuals:

If you're in the business of marketing...or any business that has a marketing function...you have likely seen the studies showing the need for greater marketing analytics, and the numerous articles about marketing accountability and measurement standards. They are hotly contested topics, to be sure.

Yet the BIMA conversation centered around the more traditional tactics of measuring page views and visit durations, and the need to track only a manageable number of data points to avoid analysis paralysis. Panelists commented on the fact that ad servers have become a crutch for measurement in that we expect a certain level of data that just isn't available from newer channels (or traditional ones, for that matter). This is where I'd hoped a discussion would ensue around alternative measurement techniques like Blogpulse , IMMI, or Marqui's notion of sentiment analysis.

Little was shared by way of actual case studies illustrating how one company tackled the challenge of measurement...and potentially reaped rewards. Even less time was spent on more complex measurement techniques, like appropriate metrics for a Web 2.0 world, or assessing campaign performance over time.

I recognize that none of this is easy. As new channels evolve, audiences fragment, and integrated campaigns become even more far-reaching, the challenges of measurement and analytics will multiply. One panelist mentioned that measurement is hard because there are no standards. I would argue that measurement shouldn't have standards, and that it isn't so much hard as it is laborious.

A marketer's success metrics should be as unique as his/her product and service offering, market position, and business objectives on any given day. It is critical at the onset of any marketing initiative that the client and agency stakeholders come to agreement on the business goals and success metrics. The agency should then determine the most appropriate way to track those metrics (even through proxy events if need be) and set up the appropriate infrastructure (or pre/post test, or whatever technique is agreed upon). That's the relatively easy part.

The more difficult part is faithfully monitoring those metrics, analyzing the results and optimizing the initiative over time. Sounds like common sense, but in the frenzy to get things in market (and after the collective sigh-of-relief that occurs when a new initiative finally does launch), the planning and follow-up on the measurement front often slips through the cracks. Or there's a changing of the guard and the new regime switches success metrics mid-stream (bad) or loses interest in measurement altogether (even worse).

Data is only powerful if you can turn it into knowledge, and that takes diligence. In my experience, many clients don't have the time or inclination ot interpret the data and optimize their marketing initiatives accordingly. This is the critical step where you analyze the data - whatever it may be - so that you can evaluate campaign performance, develop audience segments, fine tune your messaging and offers, and take a differential investment approach to improving success metrics.

I guess the avoidance of analysis paralysis really requires an organizational commitment to stand by the agreed-upon success metrics and methodically revisit them. ROI may be achieved quickly, but more often than not it will take time. I know that there are success stories out there (I hope to upload a few of mine here at some point), but maybe the lack of well-documented cases is what keeps us talking about it.


Marqui's Evolution of Marketing

Web-based marketing services provider Marqui has published a great white paper on the evolution of marketing in a Web 2.0 world.

Titled Invisible Marketing: What Every Organization Needs to Know in the Era of Blogs, Social Networks and Web 2.0, the paper deftly illustrates how marketing techniques have evovled as new technologies have emerged. More specifically, Marqui documents the shift from one-to-many, to many-to-many:

Marqui_evolution_of_marketing_4  

Marketing 1.0 ruled the offline world; it was broadcast in nature, and every reader or viewer saw the same message.

As we moved into Marketing 1.5, marketers introduced web sites that were basically static brochure-ware, but held the promise of a 2-way conversation. Eventually, we introduced the ideas of permission-marketing and opt-in, and recognized the value of segmenting our audiences and delivering more targeted communications. This was the era of one-to-one marketing.

Today, we find ourselves in a 2.0 world, where social computing applications like blogs, wikis and RSS feeds give way to the wisdom crowds. Marketers are no longer in control of the conversation, and often-times struggling to even be part of it.

As Marqui notes:

In Marketing 2.0, you no longer have control of a polished, coherent message stream...Marketing 2.0 is, in essence, both a many-to-many environment, and one where the unknown is marketing to the unknown. Marketing - the way messages about your company are created and communicated, and the process of interconnected relationships with your customers - has become invisible.

The paper goes on to highlight the various 2.0 tools and techniques that today's marketers can leverage to become part of the conversation, as well as some interesting case studies that illustrate the importance of embracing this new, participatory culture.

Download it here.


The Internet's Role in Daily Life

The Pew Internet and American Life Project unveiled its latest findings today in a report called, The Internet's Growing Role in Life's Major Moments. The headline: 45% of Internet users (about 60 million Americans), say that the Internet helped them make big decisions or negotiate their way through major episodes in their lives in the previous two years.

More specifically, over a 3-year period they found that Internet use grew by:

  • 54% in the number of adults who said the Internet played a major role as they helped another person cope with a major illness. And the number of those who said the internet played a major role as they coped themselves with a major illness increased 40%.
  • 50% in the number who said it played a major role as they pursued more training for their careers.
  • 45% in the number who said it played a major role as they made major investment or financial decisions.
  • 43% in the number who said it played a major role when they looked for a new place to live.
  • 42% in the number who said it played a major role as they decided about a school or a college for themselves or their children.
  • 23% in the number who said it played a major role when they bought a car.
  • 14% in the number who said it played a major role as they switched jobs.

Furthermore, they conclude that the channel seems to matter most in cases where decisions can be based on research by non-experts, such as getting additional training for one’s job or choosing a school. In all cases, the Internet’s capacity to let users draw on social networks was part of the decision-making dynamic.


NYTimes.com Most Popular Lists

NYTimes.com got a lot of press when it unveiled its redesigned web site earlier this month, most notably for its introduction of (more) broadband video, RSS feeds, a wider-body format, and a MyTimes feature that will aggregate content from across the Web. And while the the success of design itself is still up for debate in the blogosphere, there is one particular feature that I find interesting: the Most Popular column:

Nytimes_most_popular_2Here, you can see the stories that are most emailed or most blogged about on a given day, as well as the most frequently searched keywords and most popular movies (as rated by Times readers). So, in keeping with the cultural shift to social computing, the Times has taken one more step towards helping its readers see what other consumers are talking about. It's also a good read on what the Times readers are interested in.

What's more, there are narrower "Most Popular" results sets within the individual sections of the paper. So, on the Style home page I see that "Why Stars Name Babies Moxie, Moses and Apple" made the rounds big time today.

Perhaps not the most useful of information, but fun nonetheless :)


Boston's Big Dig House

Architecture and home design blog Inhabitat has a great post about a Lexington, MA, home built entirely of materials left over from Boston's Big Dig. Specifically, the house was built using over 600,000 lbs of recycled materials from what was once I-93 off ramps.

Big_dig_house_2   

There is more information on the design and construction of the house, including its other sustainable features, at the website of the design firm, Cambridge-based Single Speed Design.


DaVinci Code Quest on Google

Google is helping Sony Pictures promote its upcoming big-screen release of The Da Vinci Code by offering a series of DVC-themed quests on the Google personalized homepage portal: Davinci_code_3

The adventure begins on April 17th and lasts 24 days, during which people play for a chance to win trips to some of the movie's filming locations (Paris, Rome, London) or a Sony Electronics package.

Google's in it to promote its personalized Google start page (available to all gmail users); when you attempt to play the game, you are prompted to log in or create a free account. Once you get that out of the way, Google drops a DVC widget onto your start page (which currently clicks through to the Sony Pictures official movie site, until the game begins). The_quest

It's a smart tactic on Google's part; I for one have a gmail account but have never looked at nor used big G's start page. So now I've at least looked at it; the game will need to be pretty compelling for me to go back to it for 24 days in a row. It's doubtful that I'll switch to Google start as my default, having been a long-time Yahoo start page user and just recently switch to Netvibes. But I do hope that Google has woven numerous opportunities to use Google search (and maps and whatever else they offer) into the game itself...that would be really smart.

I'll just have to wait to until next week and see. Da Vinci Code the Movie hits theaters May 19.


Beyond Broadcast

Thumbbeyond_broadcastHarvard's Berkman Center for the Internet & Society is hosting a 2-day event in May titled “Beyond Broadcast: Reinventing Public Media in a Participatory Culture.” From the web site:

What will public media look like in the future? How can broadcasters
utilize the explosion of new participatory media technologies?

Established broadcasters have great expertise in producing inspiring,
educational, and entertaining programming - programming that is created
by few and distributed to many. New media technologies are providing
opportunities for personal and collaborative production. Any individual
can be a producer – and find many outlets to distribute – yet few have
the brand or trust that public and community broadcasters do.

Since public broadcasting’s mandate is to serve the public interest – there is
a wonderful conceptual connection between participatory opportunities in
new media and public broadcasters. But how would it look? How would it
work?

The folks at the Berkman Center will discuss this on May 12-13. You can register for the conference on their site, and in keeping with the participatory theme of the event, you may also contribute to the blog (any tags with 'beyondbroadcast' will be fed into the front page) or wiki.