Thursday, September 27, 2012

Keyword Targeting and the Chaff

Time for a good old fashioned blog post.  You know, the kind that is more knee jerk than it is carefully thought out.  Reactionary you might say.  The kind of one that could very well end up as a rant and that I may well regret when I wake up at 4am thinking about it.

It’s been a very busy, but in the main actually quite fun, day managing a client announcement that they are retiring a brand and merging the business attached to it into another brand.  Due to the timing, legal requirements and sensitivities of the announcement we were left having to implement some of the digital layers at relatively short notice, including some keyword targeting.  Which has unexpectedly helped sort the wheat from the publishing partners chaff.  

Credit where credit is due first.  nzherald, MSN and AdHub – all provided excellent account and technical service, fine tuning the campaign on the fly with me to have it running to order within two hours of letting them know it was happening.  Installing in me a sense that I’m working with true partners that care about helping us achieve our clients goals.

But then there was the chaff.  Despite some good account service, another main news portal and a main email portal were nothing short of technically hopeless.  For the love of Jesus, all I was asking for was either some effective keyword targeting, or them tagging the relevant stories to then serve my ads into them.  This is basic, 2007 stuff.  The kind of options these sites and their trafficking teams should be well and truly on top of.  I guess this is an old fashioned bad product story – confidence seriously eroded from bad experience.  One of them even suggested that their wasn’t enough money in it for them.  Okay, fair enough, your business prerogative.  But maybe your eyes need testing?  It seems you’re a bit short sighted maybe.  Can you read the letters in the middle of the chart?

And, as an aside, what an interesting study of the value of brand today has been.  While the services that the retired brand have been offering to customers will not change (only the colour of the buildings and bank statements, with all the staff remaiing the same) I’ve seen a steady stream of comments on web sites of people declaring their undying love for the retired brand and a determination to move to another supplyer.  Ah yes, irrational consumer choices based on brand loyalty, the ad industry loves you for them.  Anyway, time to get in my 3ltr, 4WD Subaru Outback and take the perfectly well sealed road home.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rad Report #3

It's awards season, so here is:

My Judging Experience of Random Ads I Found
(I also bring to you today tales of Sasquatch and a Lady Pyramid… intrigued now aren’t you…)

This one ticks so many boxes: simplicity, user-generated ideas, word of mouth and definitely fun. 

Rather than identifying how to make the product different to the competitors Slurpee instead looked how they could make the experience different for the consumers by realising that the one thing that always stays the same with frozen drinks is the cup. 

But what if you could drink it out of a trumpet?  A megaphone?  A bathtub?  (Okay with that last one you’d probably have brain freeze and diabetes…)

Slurpee asked people what they’d use, and the best suggestions were made into an outdoor, instore and print campaign promoting a day where you could fill your own vessel for the price of a regular drink.

The day before the event they also did a nice little bit of guerrilla advertising using other companies’ outdoor ads.  The buzz generated and the results speak for themselves.

Some of you may have already seen this one, but I think it’s a really fantastic message executed in a simple way that generates talkability (and controversy).

Benetton are famous not only for their fashion line but for a very open approach to a social responsibility of equality and peace.  The Unhate Foundation was created to overcome the culture of hate on a global level through basic understanding of difference in a pretty open and emotive way. 

Here’s the video: and if you’ve got the time check out their page:

The campaign created a huge amount of controversy with a number of different groups as the central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, and Benetton ran creative featuring world political and religious leaders, such as Barack Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao, Pope Benedict XVI and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They also ran guerrilla outdoor activity in Milan, New York, Paris and Tel Aviv, and Unhate went on to win the Press Grand Prix at Cannes.


We all know creating a recognisable character association with a product can help to educate, inspire, entertain or personify the brand.  Whether that means celebrity brand ambassador or unique personality it can help the brand connect with the consumer.

You of course all know this after rushing out to buy Cornettos after seeing my awesome Cornetto bear, didn’t you… didn’t you...

Anyway, here are a couple of other brands that went for a… unique spokesman to make them memorable.

Okay fine, they’re also in here because I’m more than a little immature and personally find the words ‘sasquatch’ and ‘lady-pyramid’ hi-(wait-for-it)-larious.

Jack’s Links:                 

Footlocker/ ADIDAS:     

Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rad Report #2

Welcome to Issue 2 of the Rad Report.  Not all the campaigns are brand new, so if you’ve already seen them then feign interest for my ego’s sake.


As the world appeared gripped in Olympic fever I was, of course, still watching MySkyed X-Games from a month or so ago. 

Amongst the awesome skate, BMX and Big Air comps there was also one of the coolest sponsorships/ PR stunts I’ve seen in a while.  I’m sure we all played with Hot Wheels at some point growing up (unsurprisingly I wasn’t really a Barbie kind of girl), and the gravity-defying loop was always the centre of any decent track.

Hot Wheels added their own highly anticipated event at this year’s X-Games by bringing on Rally car driver Tanner Foust and Hollywood stuntman Greg Tracy to set a world record by driving two Hot Wheels all-wheel-drive (isn’t that the same as 4–wheel-drive?) rally cars through the 66-foot tall Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare track at X Games LA. 

Branding heaven.

What 8 year old boy (and me) wouldn’t want a Hot Wheels set after seeing this!

4 out of 5 revs for bringing the brand to life.


Here at Spark we work hard to make campaigns great, sometimes I’m sure you’ve all felt like you’ve put your blood sweat and tears in to make the campaign a success.

Serviceplan, a creative agency in Hamburg, took this phrase a little literally when recruiting new staff through a pretty out-there (and not entirely hygienic) billboard campaign.

Company copywriters donated blood-samples which were pumped around tubing on a billboard to create lettering.  Designers sat in a mobile sauna and their sweat collected to be sprayed onto black fabric and the salt made the type.  Thirdly 3kgs of raw onions were used to make staff cry and the teary tissues were fixed to the billboard.

A QR code on the billboards linked to a micro-site about Serviceplan for interested applicants (their form of ‘TOGETHER’ is a little creepier than ours).

Well this one is, um, ‘creative’. 

1 out of 5 for staff treatment, 5 out of 5 for potential contamination from blood-born pathogens. 

Okay okay, sorry that one was a little wrong.  I’ll end on a positive note.


The Troy library in Michigan was running low on funds and close to closing; the local council proposed to vote in a 0.7% tax increase to keep the library open, but the issue became more about taxes than the library itself and caused great debate.  With voting day near and negativity high about the tax increase the library officials took to social media in a controversial reverse-psychology WOM approach to change the public’s mind.

The campaign was picked up locally, nationally and even internationally and was a great result for minimal budget.

The video is a couple of minutes long but worth a watch
*Spoiler* the library didn’t close.  Told you there was a positive ending.

5 out of 5 hypothetical matchsticks for getting people talking.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is Facebook’s star fading for marketers?

The doomsday theorists have been at it again. If you listen to them, they’ll tell you that recent court action in both California   and Australia   signals the end of the world as we (ie. brands and marketers) know it for Facebook.
Once again, let me be the voice of reason:

Image borrowed from Wikipedia

1.       While the US ruling that Facebook should allow users to opt out of having their names used in social context is significant, we all know that only a small percentage of people actually opt out. Most won’t see it as an invasion of their privacy, or won’t care enough to invest the time in finding out exactly which box on which screen to tick to turn it off.

2.       The Australian ruling is also significant but here’s a newsflash for you – the same rules apply to Facebook as apply to other media. Has it ever been ok for a brand to create a conversation which results in laws being broken or people being offended? Case in point is the recent “vagina” ad, or the recent social campaign run by Hell Pizza – it didn’t take many complaints to get those taken off air and apologies issued. The one thing Facebook has on its side is that it’s search functionality sucks. Good luck to anyone who tries to search Facebook for slanderous things being said about them. However it is a timely reminder to assume that your competitors will be fans of your page and only too keen to report any misdemeanours.
3.       While we’re on the topic – it’s also never been ok to ‘take’ images from Google search and associate them with your brand without owning (or renting) the copyright. So what makes it ok for brands to do this on Facebook? I do agree there is a big difference between taking responsibility for the content posted by the brand, and the resulting comments posted by  fans – but there is also a connection between the two. If you don’t want your fans to slander competitors/celebrities/other brands – don’t create conversations that make this likely to happen.
For me these two court rulings signal one thing – social media is no longer the Wild West where anything goes. However it is also just another media and communications platform and as such can be governed by existing rules and legislation.
Keep calm, and carry on.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Love Christmas - IAB / PWC 2nd Quarter Expenditure Report

It always feels like Christmas when the latest IAB PWC expenditure report comes out.  A Christmas that rolls around every three months. Not least of all as the presents, or rather the spend from market, just seems to increase each quarter.

It’s no different this Christmas, er, Quarter I mean.  Straight to some key numbers ay;

·         Q2 2012 $91.42m
o   7.1% increase YoY (Q2 2011 was at $84.15m)
·         Total spend by platform breaks down as
o   Display 32%  
o   Search and Directories 37%
o   Classifieds 31%
·         $3.64m spent on video
o   42% YoY increase
·         650k spent on mobile
o   156% YoY increase

So for the first time we’ve achieved a quarter that is north of $90m.  Which puts the industry on track for its first $100m quarter in six months time… just in time for Christmas proper.  PHDiQ are forecasting that digital will then go on to break through the $400m mark in 2013, lurching onwards and upwards to $489m by 2016, at the same time surpassing newspaper revenue.  And I think our trading director is being conservative – but I suppose I might be a bit biased.

While that news about newspapers isn’t going to surprise anyone, the performance of video is perhaps raising some eyebrows, contributing 12% of the total display revenue and helping push display closer to Search and Directories.  I’m predicting that with this growth in video will help push Display to be on par with Search & Directories by 2015.

Mobile, while barely out of its nappies at a modest 2% of total Display revenue in this report, will be another driving force in the next three to four years.  It will increase revenue exponentially as we see rapid update of smart phone penetration and cheaper data charges allowing rich media display, including video.  Another number from our trading director - $15m-$18m spend on mobile by 2016.  As a footnote, while penetration of smart phones is currently recorded at 40%, I think the more interesting number from a recent Google survey is that 20% of those with smart phones have only had them for between 0 – 3 months, suggesting we’re well on track to achieve considerable growth.

Roll on the next IAB PWC Christmas, set for release Nov 2012.