Category Archives: Advertising & Marketing

One of my favorite days of the year: TMK Digital Media Venture Capital Conference

The Media Kitchen logoOn Wednesday, April 11, The Media Kitchen is hosting our 5th annual Digital Media Venture Capital Conference.  Here is the writeup from 2008, our first one we ever held.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year because it’s packed with inspiration from some of the greatest minds in venture capital, technology, and entrepreneurship.  For five hours on Wednesday, executives from Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital, LUMA Partners, OMGPOP, Adconion Media Group, PlaceIQ, Flurry, and Advertising Age are going to be taking our stage and talking about marketing, disruption, and mobile.  It’s going to be exciting.

I have one extra spot I’m holding for a reader of my blog.  If you’d be interested in attending, please contact me and let me know why you’d like to attend.  It’s from 8:30am-1pm in Tribeca (NYC) and you’d be expected to stay the whole time to maximize the opportunity.

Here are some of the topics of the talks:

The 2012 Industry Landscape—Challenges and Opportunities

Mention “the slide” to any industry vet and she’ll immediately know that you’re talking about Terry Kawaja’s famous “LUMAscapes”—the maps of how the different pieces of the digital marketing business fit together. Whether it’s how trading desks like Cadreon relate to DSPs like Turn in the display ecosystem, how Tremor feeds into Akamai in video and other companies across social, e-commerce, mobile, search and more, the LUMAscapes are, in the words of Google’s Neal Mohan, “the clear industry standard when it comes to understanding the digital media economy.” Today, we’re pleased to welcome LUMA Partners CEO Terence Kawaja as he outlines the most significant challenges and opportunities to companies trying to succeed in these rapidly evolving and inter-related ecosystems. Don’t miss this exciting keynote address!  Terence Kawaja, CEO & Founder, LUMA Partners LLC

The Past, Present and Future of Online Advertising

Can’t see the forest from the trees? Here’s a chainsaw. This presentation cuts through the complexity of the advertising industry by looking at its evolution over time. From the creation of the first billboard to the Exchanges, DSP’s, and Trading Desks of today, Ben Fox takes a comprehensive look at where the industry started and where it will go next. He exposes the forces that will drive change and takes a deep look at the technology systems that will be the foundation of the new online advertising ecosystem. Finally, he provides agencies, advertisers, ad networks, and publishers a roadmap to navigate the future space.  Ben Fox,  Adconion Media Group

Trends and Opportunities in Venture Capital and Mobile

First Round Capital has been one of the most active investors in NYC and across the country over the last several years, and one of the earliest to focus on seed stage investing.   Managing Partner Chris Fralic will discuss the forces driving the startup landscape, and where First Round is innovating and adding value.    He’ll also give an overview of some of the most important trends in Mobile, with real-world examples and insight, and what it means for brands and marketers.  Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Zero to $200 Million in 30 days

OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter interviewed by Chris Fralic.   It took AOL 9 years to hit 1 million users.  It took Facebook 9 months.   Draw Something by OMGPOP took 9 days.   Dan Porter is the CEO of NYC’s OMGPOP who has literally taken the mobile gaming world by storm, and in under a month launched one of the most successful games ever and were acquired by Zynga for over $200 million dollars.    This is no overnight success story, though – Dan and the team worked for years developing other games and learning what worked and didn’t.  Find out how they did it, and what brands and marketers can learn, from virality, to game theory, and working your way on to and up the app store leaderboards. Dan Porter, CEO OMGPOP & Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Inside the Trillion Dollar Media Revolution

Everyday, mobile applications appear to be disrupting multi-billion dollar industries raging from gaming and entertainment to transportation and logistics. In this session, Flurry will discuss the impact mobile applications are having on traditional media, the web and television and will also share insights on how mobile advertising is changing the way consumers are engaging with advertisers.  Simon Kalaf, CEO Flurry

The Future is Location Aware

“Location may be the biggest indicator of intent since search…” so the saying goes and we are out to prove it. In mobile advertising PlaceIQ is pushing the boundaries of privacy friendly audience targeting using the context of location as the key. We’ll discuss how, and show some specific customer examples. Plus discuss how the future is truly ‘location aware’ and what this means for the digital media industry.  Duncan McCall, CEO PlaceIQ

Why Everything You Know About Advertising Is Wrong

Well, maybe not *everything*. But if you think the future is about interruptive advertising, then yes, Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger thinks you’re mostly wrong, and maybe about to become obsolete. Technology is changing how humans interact with each other and if brands want to be part of that conversation they need to figure out how to add value in a way that’s “native to the user flow.” Advertising Age digital editor Michael Learmonth talks to Wenger about what that looks like and how the next generation of brands can thrive in the social web.  Michael Learmonth, Sr. Editor, Advertising Age with Albert Wenger, Partner, Union Square Ventures

David Ogilvy's Awesome Pontification and It's Happening Today (Video + Post)

While I was in the gym this morning, I was watching an eclectic group of videos that ranged in topic from advertising talks thru TEDx random speeches.  One of the videos I viewed is from way back when, the exact date I’m unsure about.  The video is actually of David Ogilvy, who is widely known as the “father of advertising” and he talks about the future of advertising which is happening today on Madison Avenue.

If you watch Mad Men, watch the video.

If you work on Madison Avenue, watch the video.

If you are an entrepreneur who is building advertising or marketing technology, watch the video.

If you are selling media to agencies or marketers, watch the video.

If you are a marketer, watch the video.

Here is the link to the video on YouTube.

I cannot stress how important this video is to the future of the advertising ecosystem.  I’ve always said that we need to move towards a branded response model where both brand marketing collides with direct response.  Advertising without a call to action is a waste, especially when given the opportunity to have an audience take a measured response.  I wrote quite a bit about that here and something I stressed in this interview amongst many other places..

What does scale mean in an advertising world where it doesn't matter?

I have been thinking a lot lately about scaleable ad units and how they relate to digital media.  This is a question I ask myself as an investor and as a media buyer.  The latter part is probably more important as I’m consistently buying media in market each day thru The Media Kitchen.

Today, for the most part, we have text ads and display banners (of different shapes and sizes).  Both of these types of units (search & display) have been adopted and make up the majority of global digital advertising spend.  For the online world, they scale.  There are deep takeovers and experiences that can be bought, but they don’t scale nor do they makeup the majority of online spend.

For the offline wold, we too have very defined creative units which provide scale for publishers.  These defined units can be a 30 second spot, quarter page advertisement, FSI, or a 10 second live read (amongst others).

Scale allows dollars to flow, as it provides less friction to move money to purchase many media impressions.  If everyone accepts a 300X250 advertising unit, then its easy to invest behind $1,000,000 in media because there is enough inventory to support it.  There is even enough for $10,000,000 or $100,000,000 of media.

TV advertising is significant not only because it is one of the only mediums to convey both audio & video, but its mass reach with standardized units is almost frictionless;  it’s also really easy to buy.  Additionally, when it emerged as a media channel to purchase, it trumped it’s peer set and with limited other options, it became almost a must-buy.  TV ad spend as a percentage of United States GDP has been a pretty consistent 2.2% since 1919 (since first commercial).

Fact:  There are many ‘haters’ of online display ads because they are standardized.

Well, television advertising is standardized too, and there are some recent examples of run away creative (and business) success:  Nike’s Write the Future spot, NFL Play 60, and the older Jordan/Bird/Barkley McDonald’s commercials.  Note, these are all sports examples as I am a focus group of one, but the common thread they have were that they debuted not only against a high target audience composition but also with contextual relevance.  I generally see the NFL Play 60 spot during NFL games and the Write the Future spot appeared during the World Cup.   Audience plus context helped give these advertisements meaning.    In the future, audience plus content plus location will give advertisements meaning.

Within digital, we are still nascent, but we are starting to figure out some of the native characteristics of the digital platform.  A few recent examples of successful digital campaigns such as Elf Yourself, Old Spice Man, Whopper Sacrifice, BMW ActiveE (our agency), Giorgio Armani/The Room (our agency), have a common thread:  the foundations of the campaign are not immediately scalable.  Why?  Because unlike offline media, these examples require user interaction to be successful, which is virtually impossible with unplugged offline media.  In a television world, the best spots allow us to reflect on our emotions as we watch.  In a digital world, the consumer/viewer is able to create emotions with engagements on the fly. Think about this (*).

When creating effective digital communications, take advantage of the medium.

Paid media dollars are no longer the only dollars that are driving scale.   This is where the POEM (paid, owned, earned media) strategy becomes vitally important.  The best digital strategies are done with the POEM approach in mind.

A couple more words about scale:

1.  Historically, advertisers rent audiences.  We pay large media companies to rent their audiences for a period of time.  This is not a winning proposition, as the minute you stop spending, your audience returns to zero.  However, this is changing with the ability to use digital means to connect with your audience and disintermediate the media companies.  Nike’s Trevor Edwards (VP Global Brand & Category Management) had a great quote in the NY Times about 5 years ago, “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. “We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

2.  Scale is still used to help get word out and will be necessary in the future.  I’m not saying that media buying and advertising is going away, but the way we look at the traditional paid media model is changing.

===

* Inspired by a pre-read of this post by buddy Chad Stoller

** This post started out about native advertising opportunities and quickly morphed into a post about scale.  It wasn’t my original intention but that’s the way my brain worked while writing.  So, pardon the inconsistencies but I think I do get my point across.

*** Scale does matter in certain businesses and within components of the advertising ecosystem.  Example:  the more you buy (larger scale) on an exchange platform, the more bid requests you see.  Theoretically, the more bid requests you see, the better the performance you might drive.

Mad Men is Back

For 2 hours last night, I sat uninterrupted while watching AMC’s debut of Season 5 of Mad Men.  They did a great job recapping Season 4 and setting up plenty of plot opportunities for the remainder of this season.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to watch Mad Men without having worked in an advertising agency.  I guess it’s like watching CSI Miami for me, as I’ve never worked in public safety.  There are plenty of subtleties that you pick up while watching having worked in the industry.

A few things stuck out from last night’s show:

1.  Pete’s power move of gaurding his potential clients and using them as leverage for a new office.
2.  The Heinz presentation that shows that not everything Madison Avenue does is right the first time… this is so true and often goes overlooked.
3.   Sounds like SCDP are going after a new airlines which back in the day, were the top accounts to have
4.  I like the scenes on Metro North railroad as I too take the train in each day.  It’s a nice touch.

It’s amazing how the producers of the show are able to replicate the 1950s, even down to Metro North.  It’s impressive.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the season!

Oh, I was interviewed by Paper Magazine for an article titled, “Meet New York’s Mad Men and Mad Women.”  Enjoy.

Search is bought, not sold

Over the past month or so since I first heard the line, “search is bought, media is sold,” I’ve been thinking about it as it’s resonated as both a media planner/buyer and a marketing/ad tech investor.

I went thru the exercise to understand this statement at its core:  why is search bought and why is media sold?

Search on any advertising campaign is pretty much a “must buy.”  Why?  Search is about Intent.  My colleague Taylor writes about it here and here.

Dictionary.com defines Intent the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.

If a person is telling a search engine that they are already going to a specific object, then making it as a frictionless as possible to move said person from search to object is what a search engine delivers.  Pretty simple.

Search is almost cheating from an advertising perspective.  Yes, I said it.  There is no genius or persuasion to search.  Google built an empire that will keep returning cash until their search engine is no longer relevant.  The $200B market capitalization isn’t because Google has built a much better advertising technology, but because Google is playing on the key insight of Intent.  It was and continues to be genius; I wish I had done that.

While search ad copy is extremely important, especially on competitive keyword terms, capturing the Intent is pretty much a numbers game done thru the smarts of the search engine marketing (“SEM”) technologies and the SEM/biddable media analysts using them.

Media is sold, which means that a sales person (or API) needs to contact an agency or marketer directly, build a relationship, and sell in their wares.  This is very different than search.  I like to think that nothing is a must-buy other than paid search.

A good sales person with relationships and a great product must sell to be part of a plan and make a case why.  Alternatively, and increasingly, we’re using API’s to connect us to programmatic sources of buying non-search media that is removing the day to day sales person out of the picture.  Industries evolve.

Data to enhance targeting generally should win out on a media plan before any time of blind or proxy-audience buy.  The picture below illustrates this notion.  The old way of buying media was to start broad and then narrow down based on performance.  Now, it’s about starting narrow because we can, and then getting broader if it’s needed and budget allows.  It’s not that marketers are spending less, it’s that they are more refined in their targeting.

Targeting

What this overall thought proves is that the use of data, at least in the “intent” stage, will drive results.  It’s validated;  $200B worth of market capitalization, validated.

This leads me to an investment thesis of who else is capturing Intent beyond traditional search engines and how can we partner with those companies to accelerate them.  If you know of any, I’d love to chat.

We Are Hiring – Are You Looking?

There’s a lot of talk about job creation in the USA.  Well, we’re certainly doing our part here at the agency.  Here at The Media Kitchen, we are riding a new business win streak and are staffing up at all levels.  At kbs+ Ventures, our portfolio companies are pretty much all hiring too.

Today, we’re going to focus on some roles for The Media Kitchen, which is something I don’t normally talk about on this blog so I figure it’ll be some fresh content.

We are looking for Associate Strategists up thru Group Directors to join our team as we’re staffing up based on some recent new business wins.  The Media Kitchen is an integrated media agency that handles all media types, believes in the paid/owned/earned landscape and is a medium sized shop (about 110 chefs across our NYC and Atlanta office).  I think we’re pretty fantastic but that’s totally biased as I’m the Chief Digital Media Officer here.  Here is some of our thinking on Slide Share.  Here’s our tumblog.

We are looking for “chefs” with the following attributes & talent:

  • Curiosity.  We find that the best chefs are the most curious and like to explore all different areas.  You don’t just have to be curious about digital or media, but that certainly helps too.
  • Digital understanding.  We plan all media types here at The Media Kitchen, however, we are looking people who might have a few more chromosomes who favor digital than other channels as much of the business you’d be working on are skewed towards digital planning.
  • Digital is less of a channel and more of an enabler.  You should share the belief that digital as we know it is changing and it’s becoming an enabler on other platforms.
  • Nice.  We only hire nice people.  If you have a large ego or cannot play well with others, this agency probably isn’t for you.
  • Great.  Are you great?  You should think so, and if so, we want to talk with you.

I’m sure there are  more attributes and talent that we’re looking for and our hiring team will be able to tease that out.  If you meet the above filters, then at least contact me and I’ll make sure to get you in touch with the right people here*.

Reach out to me if you are interested in pursuing a career at The Media Kitchen.  We are looking to hire immediately.

* If you match the criteria I’m looking for and that your first impression is a good one!

Data Alone Is Not A Winning Proposition

I was fortunate enough to be asked by Ari & David Goldberg to speak at their State of Style Summit which was held today at the 92st Y in Tribeca.  They threw an A+ event and the turn-out of attendees was awesome; it looked like standing room only from the stage.  Job well done, Goldbergs.

On stage, I talked about data and the application of data for marketing along with Joe Zawadzki from MediaMath and Albert Azout of Sociocast.  I was on a tangent a bit and gave the crowd a laugh with the following quote:

It got re-tweeted a lot.

Looking back at it, it is immensely important.

Data is at all of our finger tips.  When you step on the scale each morning, look at your fitbit stats, log into your Mint.com account, or even review your Amex charges, you are looking at data that can then be turned into insights and then be actioned upon.

However, data alone does not mean action.  When I step on the scale in the mornings and am trending towards Alec Baldwin rather than Ryan Gosling, I’m not actioning data.   This is important.  Data alone does not make decisions.

An organization built for the next century is one who has to be able to wonk through large datasets, find insights and action them.  Just having data alone is not a winning proposition.  It’s the application of data, the extrapolation, and understanding that will lead to competitive differentiation.

If I was actioning the data from the scale, I’d not be eating this delicious chocolate chip cookie and tea from Mae Mae Cafe as I wrote this post.

Super Bowl XLVI Advertising, When TV Spots Are No Longer TV Spots

If you’ve been watching any of the major television channels over the past week, you’ve probably seen a little button on some of the commercials that pops up with a call to action to Shazam.  For those unfamiliar with this nifty app, it allows you to use your mobile device to take a sample of a sound in a room and send it to Shazam returning details surrounding the particular sound.  This initially launched around music – and I personally use it quite often to help me figure out who the artist is of a particular song so I can download the track at a later time.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve seen an increasing amount of television spots using Shazam technology to help consumers learn more about a product.  Back in February 2011, an Old Navy television spot featured Kim Kardashian singing and had a link out to Shazam.   This is the first commercial I saw that adopted this technology.  Since, some big brands are starting to use mobile to extend television spots.  Last night, I was watching 30 Rock on my DVR (lots of catching up to do) and there was a commercial for Progressive with a Shazam logo.  I took out my iPhone and Shazam’d it – and captured the screen shot here.

I’m predicting that we are going to see quite a few Super Bowl spots with Shazam tie-ins.  I’m not the first nor won’t be the last to say this.  AdWeek, back in June, predicted we’d see up to a third of all commercials.  They could be right.

While this is not an endorsement or commercial for Shazam perse, it’s a statement of stitching together multiple screens.  If brands are going down this path, they need to be thinking about the connected screen experience.  My buddy Pete calls this the Connected14I’ve written about it here.

Super Bowl XLVI could kick off (no pun intended) the main stream adoption of the connected experience.  I hope so.

Stores in an Information Society

I live in the suburbs of Manhattan and within an 8 minute drive from my home, I’m surrounded with retail stores… and there are a lot of them:  standalone, strip malls, and large malls.  Many of these stores were built when we lived in the industrial revolution society as that’s when urban planning was done for this area.

The industrial revolution is over.  Long ago.

We’re now in the information revolution.  Many things should change in this new chapter of life but the one area I’d like to highlight is the retail experience.

I’ve had many poor experiences lately in retail locations, even from stores which are supposed to have excellent in-store staff.  The more and more I go about my daily life and see how my kids are living theirs, retail stores need to adapt because consumers are now less than 3 clicks away from buying almost any item sold in any store at any time on any day.  Do retail stores really need to be tens of thousands of square feet and sell/stock everything in their catalog which is redundant to their e-commerce store?

Why can’t retail stores be discovery-and-customer-service engines staffed by salaried product specialists?  The actual goods that I might want to buy, maybe outside the top 10, would be ordered online and be delivered to my home or a central pickup area.  Stores would have a lot less overhead, smaller, wouldn’t be competing with their e-commerce P&L, attribution of marketing would be easier (shopping in one place), and product distribution would be easier for brands.  This doesn’t sound half bad…

Retail needs to change.  Just look at Best Buy.

Marketing Wednesdays: Display Impressions

One sentence exec summary:  New measurement of advertising impressions are helping drive performance for marketers.

When we purchase media, one of the major components of the buy is around how many impressions we will achieve with a campaign.  The common thought here is that the optimal amount of impressions against a target audience will yield positive advertising results.  This is fairly common thinking around Madison Avenue and has led us to using the Nielsen metrics as currency for TV, circulation metrics for print, and unique visitors as being important for digital media.  The higher the rating, the larger the circulation and the more unique visitors a media property has, the higher the amount of impressions, theoretically* and thus, the more media spend that they can handle.

I personally and professionally believe that it’s not about the impressions, but about the engagements.  Engagements can be quantified many different ways (thru sales to interactions) but just impressions alone is not a basis for marketing working or not.

In digital, there is a never ending supply of advertising inventory especially when publishers like this put stories across 5 or 30 pages.  Creating more ad impressions is not the problem with digital.  3rd party ad serving systems such as DART, Atlas, MediaMind, MediaPlex, AdZerk, adk2, OpenX, and others were created to help manage advertising inventory for pubs and advertisers.  Not only do ad servers help us serve media but they also help us track the performance which allows us to understand which media partners are doing well.

Historically, this was always about the amount of impressions served and the respective clicks or engagements on a unit.  This post is not about clicks or click thru rates, as that’s an entire topic in itself, and you can read about it hereWhat we will discuss through the rest of this post is how we as marketers should be tracking an impression.

As you have viewed on many websites during your normal course of web surfing, banners and ad units are all over a respective page and sometimes, you cannot even see the units as they might be below the fold.  Generally** as long as the web page and assets load (tags fire), then the advertising units on the page log impressions, regardless if the user scrolls over them or engages.

Sounds weird, right?  An advertiser pays for impressions without confirmation that the user has at least had the ability to see the advertisement.

Since 2008, we’ve seen startups like DoubleVerify, AdXpose, and AdSafe (amongst others) help marketers understand what how many of their impressions are in-view along with many other non-standard ad server metrics.  The in-view metric is important because that’s the number that should count for impressions (in my theoretical perfect world).  Lately, ad serving solutions such as MediaMind have incorporated this metric into reporting but it’s not historically standard across 3rd party ad servers (which is shocking).

Today marks a big day for the digital media community because comScore released the vCE, which is what they are touting as “campaign essentials” and it’s built on a product they created and merged with AdXpose called the vGRP to validate the impressions served and displayed by publishers.  The vGRP is very interesting because it goes beyond traditional measurement of 3rd party ad serving solutions to include things like time on screen and in-view/out of view.  While admittedly I’ve not run a campaign yet with the vCE/vGRP, I hypothesize based on historical campaign performance we’ve run, that a paid media campaign will yield better performance when a higher composition of impressions are in-view and for no less than a minimum amount of time.  Not rocket science.

Additionally, other companies are building advanced measurement solutions to help understand display impressions better.  The Goodharts over at MOAT are building a brand analytics dashboard which help marketers understand how many people are hovering over their display advertisements.  The theory here is that the more that a user hovers over an impression, the higher the engagement, and thus, the better a campaign will perform.

Evolution is occuring in the digital space.  From the days of offline media based on circulation and rating points to a now “validated” actualized number of impressions being seen digitally.  Over the next decade or so, we’ll see our online measurement systems (tools/technology/process) brought to traditionally offline channels.  Then, we’ll be able to really understand our media performance.

* Why I said theoretically is because advertising dollars don’t always follow the amount of impressions.  Some impressions are worth more, and potentially, you can spend more for fewer qualified impressions.  Think webmd or other niche publishers.

**  I say generally here because it’s more often than not

*** I lifted the above image from the website of MOAT.