Day 2 of the IAB conference started with Michael Mendenhall, CMO of HP.  The breadth of the Internet is growing by leaps, not increments he says. The amount of digital information is doubling every 18 months. All of that information is useless unless it can be acted on.

HP’s product MagCloud allows publishers to create, design and print their own magazine and print on demand high quality magazines. As we look at who we define as “content publishers” we not only compete with bloggers and sites like babycenter.com, but also with local publishers in print. These opportunities presented to advertisers allow for highly targeted advertising campaigns.

According to Forrester, Gen Y is spending 30% more time online than watching TV. Where would you go to find your audience?

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Tonight, the conference was opened by IAB President and CEO, Randall Rothenberg. He greeted the sold out conference with a report on the challenges facing our industry in 2009 and the achievements the IAB has made in furthering the goals of interactive advertising with measurement and co-existing with advertising agencies.

The keynote speach by Wenda Millard, President, Media and Co-CEO, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was an amazing overview of the interactive advertising world in 2009 and beyond. She kicked off her assessment of the media and advertising industry with the bomb we all are living…”If 2008 was a fish, we’d throw it back.”

As I’ve written here before, the media industry and advertising industry are both undergoing a sea change and as we say, “Speed kills…especially those that don’t have it.” In a year when TV Guide sold for $1, less than its newsstand price, then we have to admit something dramatic is happening in the industry.

Here are some bullet points I wrote down. Sit down. They are kind of harsh.

  • Media companies hit 52 week lows in stock price recently
  • Death is happening or has already happened to many media companies
  • Advertising cannot support all the media out there and we’ve already seen the demise of print publications such as the Christian Science Monitor
  • Down is down. Myers predicts advertising will be down greater than 10% over the next three years, an unprecedented decline.
  • Barry Diller says, “Anyone who thinks about growth in the next few years is delusional.”
  • When giving the pitch for interactive advertising, measurement should be the sizzle…not the steak.
  • Good advertising is not about math and technology, it’s about good creative and we need to encourage creativity and building brands.

Brands today are fluid, not just linear extensions and color palettes. Brand marketers have to ask the question “How does the logo sound? How does it work in text, in images, in moving text and video.” Ms. Millard also had strong words for ad networks. In a blanket statement she said, “Ad networks give you nothing but cheap eyeballs.” I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, it’s been the guiding principle behind in my conversations with advertisers as we look to generate ROI for their budgets. Especially in these economic times.

More to come from the IAB. We’re just getting started!

We are attending the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual Ecosystem conference next

week. This year’s conference is in Orlando, Florida. Last year we went to Phoenix and I had my first seaweed wrap at the spa there.

One of last year’s keynote speakers was Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo! and he sounded confident that they would survive the hostile takeover talk from Microsoft. Mr. Yang stepped down as CEO of Yahoo! in what was described as a “mutual” decision, but Yahoo!’s declining stock during his tenure surely played a role. I digress, back to the IAB!

The list of folks attending the conference is impressive, and I look forward to a jam packed agenda of great presentations. The sections on the future of interactive advertising and a deep dive into the 2009 “agency budget” will take a look at where the media mix is shifting in a down economy.

If you’re going to be at the event, look me up and say hello. And don’t worry, if you aren’t going to be there I’ll be blogging about the conference.

In the interactive media world, we have taken great pride in explaining the desirable demographic of the online user. Those with advanced degrees, earn more than $75k per year and under age 30 and makes buying decisions online. While that continues to be true and a recent Gallup Poll shows that demographic continues to dominate online activities, other demographics are making double digit increases in their online usage. This represents further penetration of broadband usage in the United States as well as continued trends and market penetration of overall online usage. The demographic groups including lower income, lower education and older age brackets posted gains in frequent internet use in the past year. These double-digit gains were represented by:

  • -Those making less than $30,000 per year
  • -Those who are not working
  • -The unmarried
  • -Those under age 30
  • -Those with post-graduate degrees

“Business leaders – and advertisers in particular – will be well-served to keep these burgeoning trends in mind. While targeting content toward the most educated, most affluent, and youngest Americans may be an effective strategy today, the growth evident among their counterparts at the other end of the spectrum suggests new strategies may be needed to cater to the frequent internet users of tomorrow,” Gallup said. About the poll: Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 4-7, 2008. Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

One true fan

I’ve just started reading, Tribes: We need you to lead us. The book talks about how social media has evolved the development of tribes and the rise of influence leaders through the use of these tools.  While the use of social media in marketing creates a healthy debate among marketers, the undeniable truth about social media fueled tribes is that they create a passionate group of individuals that become evangelists for their cause/product/belief/group as they recruit more members into the tribe.

Although I believe in social media as a way to promote a brand or cause, I’ve sometimes been unable to quantify a true “ROI” for the efforts we put into developing social media projects for our brands or clients. When we create successful tribes online, we are creating a group of evangelists that promote our brand for us. We are creating the “one true fan” that will recruit other members for the tribe and become influence leaders for our brand/cause/message/belief. The concept of tribes works for products, religions, politicians and even quilting groups. I’d rather have “one true fan” than a large group of people that were indifferent about my brand.

Oprah embraces interactive

Oprah Winfrey is hosting a series of shows called Best. Life. Ever.  Each show focuses on a different aspect of life and Oprah hosts a round table discussion meant to condescend educate her audience on topics such as finance, love, faith and health.

In preparation for a guest appearance from her favorite finance guru, Ms. Winfrey has made Suze Orman’s latest book available for free download on her web site.  The book, aptly titled 2009 Action Plan, is available until January 15 online.


In addition to a free book on her site, Oprah is registering visitors for a 90 minute webcast next week to continue her Best Life series.  Oprah has discovered a great way to promote her brand across platforms. By reaching out to the super-user without forsaking her core audience she is giving her viewers/users the opportunity to receive her message in the way that best suits their needs.  This is a critical point in the evolving world of media. As people consume media in different ways, traditional outlets have to find ways to deliver the message in ways that do not compromise their brand and expands their reach.

As for giving the book a free download…genius move. The book is over 200 pages long. Even a super-user ike myself is going to print it out to read rather than reading it online. Like many others, I’ll read the first few pages and then go purchase the book instead of fumbling around with my loose pieces of paper.  Ms. Orman also benefits from those that read her book for free. As a prolific author and TV host, she is penetrating the market with her brand. The benefit of reaching out to Oprah’s captive audience grows her sphere of influence.

Like every  business owner, we are taking a hard look at 2009 projections and taking a pessimistic view of the economy until Q4 2009. We are having conversations with our clients on how to manage the downturn so that they are poised for a strong recovery as the economy stabilizes and we start to pull out of the recession.

Economists have long taught us that those companies that continue to strategically advertise and market their brands will see a market share grow as the economy rebounds. My grandmother would have put it more simply, she would have said, “Out of sight; out of mind.” Great axioms to remember as we discuss media planning for 2009.

We are encouraging clients (as well as our own business planning) to concentrate on building efficiencies, reducing costs where appropriate and strengthening their core business. These strategies can help companies weather the economic storm. Yes, cuts are on the horizon and most companies will not be spared sacrifices. Cuts are inevitable, but I believe they help make businesses stronger when executed appropriately. Cutting staff as a way to save money is short-sighted and the lazy man’s way to save money. Let’s be smarter than that. Sadly, some people will have to go. But, their departure is because we found a better way to do something not because we can save a salary line.

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