Monday, July 26, 2010

Enabling Multi Platform Advertising

Last week I was invited to present at the 2010 Media and Broadcasting Congress. Here's what I had to say:

Enabling multi platform advertising

• What ad models work on what platform?
• Streamlining the advertising model to maximize results
• Uncovering the barriers to multi platform advertising
• The advertisers’ perspective on the evolution of platforms and ad spend


Multi platform advertising is nothing new to marketers, in days gone by it was more often referred to as a “multi media campaign”. The impact of digital technology has however shifted the goal posts. It’s no secret that today’s consumer has many more choices in how and when they interact with content; and subsequently shorter attention spans. And that it has subsequently become increasingly important for marketing communications to be more relevant, integrated, layered and interactive than they’ve ever been before. In essence, today a great comms idea must be bigger than the platform!

Inspired by the level of digital accountability, it’s also not enough to measure all of these efforts by channel. How we prepare for multi platform measurement is fundamental to increasing our ability to enable it.

So, who am I and why should you listen to me?

I’ve worked in the Australian media agency arena for some 20 years, half of which have been at Starcom. In that time, I’ve spent 17 years managing, strategising, planning and buying across all media channels, however, for the past three years I’ve been focused on digital specifically. I’ve experienced every medium from both a planning and a buying point of view and in particular the different nuances from trading approaches to trafficking.

Back to multi platform advertising….so what is it?

Actually, let’s start with the even simpler but also now more complex…. what is advertising?
One thing is for sure, it’s no longer just the ads made by the advertising agency. It’s any brand centric creative content. It’s the ads on TV and the video created by the teenager in your street. It’s the conversation you had with your mother about your new computer. Or the text message you got from the beautician. It can be paid, earned or/and owned. All of these connections are in essence message ‘platforms’.

So, in the face of all of this change, I believe the industry’s biggest challenge is to better understand the true value of all of these platforms and their relative impact on results. To do so time and cost effectively, we need new ways of measuring value. And even more challenging, (particularly for publishers), this will require a complete overhaul of how we trade including currency.

Our future goal should be management and measurement systems, where we are able to leverage and trade audiences across multiple technologies and touch points to measure and optimise impact and results.

What Ad models work on what platform

Up until recently the Australian industry almost exclusively worked on a “pay for total impact” model. Basically, you pay a price for media space (be that TV, outdoor, or a radio spot) no matter who/how many people end up seeing/hearing it.

With the advent of online, whilst the model sounded different – pay for the number of people (ie CPM), it was in essence a similar model. Multiply the estimated impression number by the CPM and once again you are paying a price for the space no matter who is impacted. The slight change in buying model to CPM did give us more control over the number of people (impressions bought), however, ‘the who’ remained the ‘whoever’. Ad exchanges are changing this but the main game remains the TPPL CPM.

Of course, it has been the responsibility of the media agency, to research and forecast target audience impact for the space and a more relevant measure of value for the individual client/product. Depending on quality of research by medium, this can be relatively accurate (TV) or quite weak (outdoor).

So in essence, we are trading across multiple data points, buying space across multiple mediums with no real visibility into audiences across mediums. It’s a silo-ed approach.

Enter Google, affiliate and performance networks.

In the past 5 years, however, due to the much more accountable nature of digital, we have seen a rapid increase in a move towards paying for a result. At the softer end we have the cost per click model, excellent for driving traffic to a site (and hopefully more experience of the brand /product), and even better for those with a strong e-commerce model the CPA – where ROI is relatively straight forward to demonstrate. Cue joy and delight from clients who have the ability to show their CEO an accurate cost per acquisition!

The ability to buy a result*, across multi platform is without question the future of our industry. The ability to transact in this way online has awakened the natural desire of marketeers to do so. But I think you’ll agree when it comes to a solution we’ve got a long way to go.

*Result – not simply sales, but could be awareness, engagement, consideration, intention

Streamlining ad models to maximise results

We all recognise that we are moving to a data driven future. One where we have the ability (and often the desire) to communicate “one to one” rather than “one to many”; efficiently and at scale. Consumers expect more personalisation – and are more influenced by it. Buying space is becoming less and less relevant.

I’m sure you’ll agree, as a result, it’s time for the industry to start re-thinking sales models. We need a new currency and we need to be talking the same language.

My thoughts are that it would make more sense for us to buy an audience rather than a space. Why? The way I see it is that if you think about a continuum, with paying for space by media at one end, and paying for a result across multiple media at the other, paying for an audience, is moving in the right direction.

With the increasing ability for publishers to create more valuable audiences through improved audience data, this is a model that makes sense for all parties.

In the meantime, Starcom (and some of our competitors) will continue to do what we can to consolidate data – or build our own to improve multi platform accountability.

We currently have a research study - Intentrak in market every week, which measures awareness, consideration, purchase, sales and after sale behaviour – across all touch points. It is helping us attribute value far better than ever before.

This is important in improving demonstrable ROI. It’s a step in the right direction. A step, publishers need to begin to embrace and plan for in terms of ad models of the future.

Uncovering the barriers to multi platform advertising

There are many barriers to multi platform advertising. But perhaps the biggest is our natural tendency as humans to resist change.

Critical barriers include:
* Slow moving big organisations with enormous legacy in infrastructure and internal barriers to overcome (if we are to see any innovation in currency)
* Multiple measurement systems and approaches across channels and contact points – siloed
* Understanding and attribution of the value of communication assets beyond paid media (earned and owned)
* Creative costing models not currently set up to create more content and maximise its personalisation and distribution
* Vested interest of ‘multi platform’ publishers in achieving multi platform within their own pool is limiting
* Lack of prioritisation of investment into research and data management at the client end
* Limited ability to interface data sets between clients, agencies and publishers

The Advertisers perspective on the evolution of platforms and ad spend

Surprise, surprise, the industry uses too much jargon!

On the surface, Marketers, feel comfortable with CPMs as they are used to this language.
When pressed, however, it is a different story. Comfortable and confident are two very different things.

Adding in new media has further complicated matters. In the online space there are literally thousands of CPMs spanning environments, formats and types of creative. Additionally, where in offline media the language is more often audience related, the CPMs on their digital plans are against all people. CPC/CPA models are preferred but not always relevant – eg when their goals are more relationship/awareness focussed. Back to the same old problems; inconsistent language and currency.

Some of our clients are attempting to address the new landscape through setting aside trial budgets with tangible metrics in place. Others are heavily data centric. The majority are risk adverse and more interested in advertising than research.

Overall, however, the general sentiment is that they welcome a day when all of their marketing efforts are more quantifiable and agree that digital is certainly putting pressure on them to deliver more transparent ROI back to the business.

To End

What we’re doing:

At Starcom, we are moving towards content management systems. Systems that can house all of the clients content assets (from social to PR) and allow us to micro segment and communicate with audiences. We believe this will allow us to improve interactions through more personalisation, leading to more influential connections.

But we can’t do this alone. We need all of you. At the moment our content systems manage primarily online data and assets. We look forward to a future when we can extend this to facilitate connections across multiple platforms. As I’m sure do all of our clients and customers – and hopefully you.

It’s time to get ready to measure and trade in the future.

To the clients reading this – I urge you to invest in research and data and to focus on measurable results.

To the creative agencies - It’s time to stop making ads and start focusing on ideas. Big ideas that live and breathe in multiple formats – and pricing so that clients can afford them. I know you feel pressured by the rise of content solution providers and publishers taking production in house. It’s time to change.

And to the publishers - I hope I haven’t offended. You are my peers and partners. But you need to get ready to change, and you need to do it together.

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