Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Relevency Becoming... Well, More Relevant

A study in the UK by Lightspeed Research indicates that across age groups "relevancy to me" is the single biggest factor in engagement with online ads. Other influential factors in piquing interest amongst the audiences were usefulness and and promotional incentives.

Some interesting variations in format preference according to age... A link to the study here...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Real Age Self Segmentation

Real Age, the site that asks you to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire to calculate your biological (as opposed to your chronological) age based on your life choices, habits etc has always escaped me - I have personally never quite grasped why more than 27 million people to date have filled out the 150+ questions the site asks. The questions themselves are very far reaching and cover topics that many of us are not generally comfortable sharing: from sleeping habits to sexual preferences. The reward for answering all of these questions is a calculated age which may be more or less than your actual age, this is followed by a series of emailed suggestions that will help you lower your calculated age (live longer in other words, which I guess is is quite a unique selling proposition).

An article in today's New York Times discusses the usage that the site (now owned by Hearst Newspapers) makes of the data collected - how this is shared with drug makers who can buy lists of users who answered certain questions in certain ways. I am perfectly OK with this as a practice, indeed the outcome for the consumer can be beneficial - I would however want to be sure that there is an explicit understanding on the consumer's part of how my data will be shared and used. Once I had understood the objective, I personally would also be looking for a higher return on my investment of time personal information than a calculation of my "real" age...

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mapping Innovation

McKinsey has released a new report on the state of innovation around the world. The study classifies innovation in the world's leading cities using several yardsticks including: the number of patents approved, economic value-add etc. McKinsey then groups them into four different categories -- "hot springs," "dynamic oceans," "silent lakes," and "shrinking pools" based on their respective dynamism between 1997 and 2006...

The chart below uses the number of patents by city proxy.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Global Faces & Networked Places

... or the rise of the social network and the associated challenges for advertisers.

A very interesting report recently released by Nielsen highlights the growth of "member communities" on the web (2/3 of the Internet's population visit such communities and time spent there now accounts for more that 10% of all internet usage). For me, the most interesting section of the report concerns how advertisers and agencies must act in this new (for them) environment. Few have got this right to date even if we have long since recognised that ads must add value in some way to the community, be authentic and engage participants in a conversation rather than simply shouting their pitch. The truth remains that until a new ad model emerges the agencies will continue to struggle, but we are inching closer...

The full report is here...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Adding Behavioural to Contextual

So Google has finally made the leap beyond its stranglehold on contextual advertising into adopting behavioural targeting methods across it's network of publishers who display AdSense ads. Put, extremely simply, if you visit sites concerning baby care information then you should expect to see ads for formula or nappies (OK, diapers) when you eventually click away to another, unrelated site that carries AdSense advertisements CNN.com for example.

As one would expect from the company that "does no harm" (and one whose future is so intinsically linked to the growth of relevant online advertising), Google has covered its bases from a privacy perspective in a way that many of its predecessors failed to do. Users will be aable to see and edit information that Google has gathered about them and anyone - user or publisher will be able to opt out completely of what Google is calling Interest Based Advertising. The ability to edit your profile really is key in that it allows users to choose categories of interest in addition to the inferred interests based on browsing behaviour thus putting control into consumers hands.

The quote below is from a Google blog entry called "Making Ads More Interesting"

"We believe there is real value to seeing ads about the things that interest you. If, for example, you love adventure travel and therefore visit adventure travel sites, Google could show you more ads for activities like hiking trips to Patagonia or African safaris. While interest-based advertising can infer your interest in adventure travel from the websites you visit, you can also choose your favorite categories, or tell us which categories you don't want to see ads for. Interest-based advertising also helps advertisers tailor ads for you based on your previous interactions with them, such as visits to their websites. So if you visit an online sports store, you may later be shown ads on other websites offering you a discount on running shoes during that store's upcoming sale."

Monday, 9 March 2009

Tangible Advertising

In an increasingly virtual world, Matter is a collection of physical artifacts that help in starting or continuing a relationship with consumers. An enhanced (high creative quality, opt-in and therefore more likely to be relevant) direct mail piece if you will.
"Matter works a little like a magazine by creating specific boxes for different audiences, except each bit of 'content' is in fact a different object created by a different company."
In thinking about the future of the off-line direct channel, I have been convinced that the role will move to the higher end in terms of quality and costs.

Matter was created by the Royal Mail in the UK. It is actually quite refreshing to see some bold, off-line innovation in a world that seems to have made all of its bets on-line for some time now. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Many A Slip...

... twixt cup and lip.

While suffering from the occasional execution issues, Microsoft has always been great at envisioning the future of technology. Another example of this is below, from their Microsoft office Labs 2019 Vision:

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&showPlaylist=true&from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Monday, 2 March 2009

Personalisation Counts

ChoiceStream's recent study of active US-based online shoppers held few surprises but some interesting insights for online marketers.

Key extracts from the research findings include:

Personalized ads are more likely to capture consumers’ clicks than non-personalized ads.
  • 39% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to click on an ad if it is personalized based on their tastes and interests
  • Strong correlation between customer value and the desire for personalized ads - 58% of frequent shoppers are more likely to click on personalized ads than non-personalized ads. 50% of the biggest spenders indicate that they are more likely to click on personalized ads than on non-personalized ones, vs. 32% of the smallest spenders.
Personalized ads are also more likely to capture consumers’ attention than non-personalized ads.
  • 41% indicate that they will pay more attention to advertising if it is personalized based on their tastes and interests
  • Direct correlation between the customer value and their interest in personalized ads: the bigger the spender, the greater the interest. For example, 49% of consumers who spent more than $250 online over the past six months are more likely to pay attention to personalized ads; of consumers who spent between $1-100, the number falls to 36%.
Interest in personalized ads is strongest online and on television.
  • A large majority of consumers are interested in personalized advertising distributed through their television (72%) or online (73%). The number of consumers interested in personalization on their mobile device is relatively low (35%).