One of my favorite people in the industry is straight-shooter Jack Semler, President of the Readex Corporation. Readex is best known for ad readership studies (like Starch and Harvey) although they also do a healthy business in more general subscriber studies and other types of research. In any case, WE publishers are their customers. If WE are really worried about business next year, we will do fewer paid outside studies and Readex's forward business outlook for 2008 should be down.
Well, here's what Jack said; "As for our indicators, we are kicking butt right now.Â The ad effectiveness study count will be up and the number of proposals we are writing for custom studies is above average.Â IF all holds up and doesn't crash under the 'self-fulfilling prophecy' weight of the media reporting 'Recession,' then we will be running at an 18%-20% increase over 2007."
Gosh, I hope Jack is right and that this IS a leading indicator for all of us.Â The tea leaves for my business are spread before me and, well, it kinda depends how you arrange them! Forward contracts were flat, but followed a 35% increase the year before. Business at the end of December - a flurry of activity in 2006, was this year, like Old Marley, "dead as a door-nail." But it has picked up noticeably in January as marketers realize that the sky has not quite fallen.Â Yet, anyway.
So call Jack Semler a positive leading indicator. For me it's still cautious optimism. With heavy emphasis on the cautious.
I was idling around the newsstand at lunch and was surprised to see the December issue of Hemmings Motor News sitting there, weighing in at 696 pages. Hemmings is basically an antique car and car parts directory. Looking for an antenna for that 1964 Corvair? Find it in Hemmings.The curious thing is why the print publication is still thick as a phone book. If ever there was a publication to become disintermediated by the Internet, this is it. Hemmings is a place where you go to find things you are looking for, not for random discovery. And, in fact, it has a robust Web site, claiming to be the â€śworld's most comprehensive and informative web site of its kind, featuring over 30,000 searchable cars-for-sale ads, 10,000 Car Club listings,â€ť etc.
Maybe itâ€™s because car collectors are old and donâ€™t use the internet. Nope, we know that all age groups are active users of the Web. Maybe the Hemmings brand is so strong that they can REQUIRE classified advertisers to use print if they want to advertise online. Not soâ€”you can advertise online exclusively. I just donâ€™t get it. Why is their print edition so robust? Any ideas?Leave 'em in the comments section below.
I must be on some list or in some business databases. As the president of a small company, there are some weeks when I get three or four calls a day from salespeople trying to sell me HR services, healthcare plans, consulting services, etc. ... This induces cruelty to telemarketers, which I have been known to practice. Itâ€™s very annoying and I donâ€™t feel good about myself afterwards.Increasingly, I find myself chanting some variation of the mighty McGraw-Hill advertisement known as the â€śMan in the Chair,â€ť perhaps the greatest ad for business-to-business advertising ever created. "I donâ€™t know your company. I donâ€™t know what your company stands for. I donâ€™t know you." Until ... "Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?â€ťNow, I do buy HR services. I have a healthcare broker, a 401K advisor, a bank, all of these things. I would love to learn about alternate vendors. But I donâ€™t want to be bothered or harassed by a stranger on the telephone. I read Inc. magazine and New York Enterprise Report (great magazine â€“ full of tips). And I read the ads. I rip the ads out and put them in folders. I refer to them and I will contact YOU when I am ready to switch.This little story illustrates the potential of print advertising versus the hideous â€ślead generation,â€ť currently the rage in the IT market. I am not a lead, donâ€™t call me. Advertise to me and I will call you when I am ready to buy.[image: credit]
Iâ€™m given to rail against the state of the world in terms of the overreaction in favor of online marketing methods over print advertising. As with any sea change in the sales end of our industry, there are multiple players (publishers, clients, ad agencies) and plenty of blame to go around. A frequent target for publishers is ad agencies. Part of this is historical, as an agency can stand between the publisher and his/her client. And part of it is structural. Clients squeeze ad agencies, who have to run leaner and often assign inexperienced media buyers to select media.
Today, there are two beefs we have with ad agencies: one is the â€śRFP due by the end of the day.â€ť The other is â€śweâ€™re only buying online.â€ť Clearly, there is pressure from clients on both fronts, but the hope is that the ad agenciesâ€”who are supposed to be guiding the clientâ€™s marketing effortsâ€”would make a greater effort to help stop the insanity.
But Iâ€™ve discovered hope recently in the form of two of the most influential high-tech ad agencies, Just Media and Mindshare.
Just Media, in Berkeley, California, has a whole pile of accounts including EMC, the red-hot VMware, Quest, Fujitsu, McAfee, and others. Recently, CEO Dick Reed told me of the battles they are pitching to get these clients to truly embrace integrated marketingâ€”with the print part of the equation being the biggest challenge. It was Dick that told me about ROMOâ€”"Return on Marketing Objective"â€”and how his agency is using it to convince clients to use print in the mix. Dick also told me about having lunch with Pat McGovern this summer and railing on him about shutting down InfoWorld. A far cry from a 23-year-old media planner plunking numbers into a spreadsheet, this is the kind of involved, opinionated and non-isolationist ad agency we need.
Another agency that gets it is Mindshare, working with IBM. Experienced associate media director Larry Meisel is out on the front lines with publishers, pushing, cajoling and preaching about what IBM needs in print. And he is almost single-handedly keeping the IT newsweeklies alive. (A quick hand-count of 12/17 issues reveals: Computerworld, 21.5 ad pages, 4 from IBM; Network World, 19.5 pages, 6 from IBM; eWeek, 37.5 ad pages, 9 from IBM.)
They are out there. Find those ad agencies that get it. And letâ€™s get them more business.
Several days ago I wrote about the desire for marketers to distill their art down to a science in the crucible of online marketing metrics. In it, I suggested publishers ask questions and flesh out whether your client is really doing the work to analyze the effectiveness of their online marketing or whether they were just using online because it could Cover Their Ass ("CTA") if called upon to prove ROI.So, now what?Suggest that there are other metrics beyond ROI that they should consider using. The term I heard a few weeks ago was ROMO, or, Return on Marketing Objective. This has broader application than ROI but it both encourages measurement as well as the idea that strict return on investment may not have to be the ONLY thing one should evaluate. So you can begin to discuss what other sort of marketing objectives one might have and how to measure them. For example, brand awareness and buyer preferenceâ€“those mysterious forces that make someone click on your Adwords ad instead of a lesser-known companyâ€™s.Why not suggest print (oh there I go again) to raise awareness and preference using a pre-campaign and post-campaign study to measure the improvement? And then analyze changes in click-thrus, click-through rates and conversion rates of online efforts during the campaign (across the same audienceâ€“itâ€™s called integrated marketing). Who says you cannot measure this?We had an account that ran regular e-newsletter sponsorships. In the middle of that two-year run of online advertising, they ran some print: full and half pages, 17 times across a 22-issue span (we are 24 a year). The marketing objective was to try and increase awareness five percentage points. While they were running the print ads, they averaged 155 online leads. During the period before and after the print, they averaged 61 leads. The increase lowered the cost per lead even after factoring in the entire cost of the print advertising. That means the nine point increase in awareness they achieved over the period was in effect free. They achieved both a ROMO and ROI. That is obviously a showcase example and your mileage may vary. But to summarize, donâ€™t get put off by ROI. Suggest ROMO as an equally valuable metric. And then figure out how to measure that ROMO, with awareness and brand preference studies. Youâ€™ll like the ROI.(Note: My source for the term â€śROMOâ€ť told me he had heard it from Tech Targetâ€“kudos are due to TT, or whoever invented it.)
This entry is for PWLA (people who like acronyms). Many marketers (at least in tech, when I am) chant "R-O-I, R-O-I, R-O-I" whenever a salesperson is present. And woe to the salesperson that wants to talk about PRINT! They claim to need Return On Investment, and of course the only way to provide that is with online marketing (measuring clicks, click-thru percentage and lead generation). Marketers want a Silver Bulletâ€“something that turns their art into a science. They think theyâ€™ve found it. Until you start asking questions.Remember good-ole Bingo cards? Oh, I meant â€śReader Service Cards." How did we handle claims that another magazine outpulled ours? You broke them down with questions. What is the quality of the leads? How closely do they track results? If someone calls in six months later, do they link that back to the Bingo lead? In 90 percent of the cases, the marketers did not track leads adequately. Same is true today with online marketingâ€“at least with smaller or medium-sized companies. They donâ€™t track whether the clicks became leads. Or later, sales. Their salespeople only follow-up on a lead once. The leads donâ€™t get followed up on at all. Nowadays, many marketers simply have a number of leads they must generate per quarter. Period. If those leads donâ€™t turn into sales, well, thatâ€™s the sales teamâ€™s fault. So, many times, when they tell you they want ROI all they really want you is CYA (Cover Your Ass). You should call them on it. And when you do, you can introduce another acronym to them that will also open the door for you to sell them badly needed print advertising. Itâ€™s ROMO, and weâ€™ll talk more about that in the next post.
I just returned from a sales trip on the West Coast. I am always looking for ways to keep fighting the wacky perception that print is dead, as is regularly reported in print media-Doh! One of the problems was typified by a large client who said he wants to measure the success of a marketing effort on the very next day, and since you could not do that with print, he was only using online media.
Now there are many things one can respond to here, but I want to focus on the metrics. It is very difficult to measure the results of a print ad campaign in a trade publication on a daily basis. It's not how they work. You don't measure the speed of a glacier moving in miles per hour. You measure glaciers in inches per year. Similarly, you have to measure print campaign benefits in longer-term metrics like "increase in awareness over six months, change in brand perception or brand preference" over a longer period of time.
If you are not offering the kind of research that measures these kinds of metrics right now, you need to be. Print cannot be measured with clicks but it doesn't produce that type of impulsive result. That doesn't mean that what we do produce-awareness, brand preference and sales-cannot be measured. They can be, quite easily with pre-and post-campaign studies. There are many quick-and-dirty online research sites out there (www.surveymonkey.com is one) where you can do a study for less than $20.
You should also be using Harvey, Readex or Starch to independently measure the perception of an advertiser's creative as well as the creative of every other advertiser in the issue. This sort of research- common in print for years-is very rare in the online world. When I mention the breadth and depth of these studies to the new online buyers they are amazed.
Don't give in to demands for online metrics that don't make sense for print. There are ways to measure print's effectiveness. Educate your customers and use them.
I looked at NYTimes.com briefly this morning before leaving for work. Nothing interesting. Some bishops. Then I got to the Cold Spring Harbor Deli and glanced at the physical print edition of the Times and was surprised to see the headlines on Iranâ€™s nuclear program screaming out at me. READ ME, it said. This is IMPORTANT!
And I did read it. And it was important. If I only read the Times online, it would have just flown right by. Print is really good at providing context. The Internet is not.If you are selling print, you need to pay attention to these examples as they come up and use them to hammer home the unique benefits of print.Iâ€™m not against onlineâ€“we sell tons of online products. I just feel the jump to online marketing has gone overboard and there are few voices reminding us why and how print still works.
In the wake of all the noise about everything going digital, everything being measurable on the Internet and demands for accountable ROI comes this story via the Wall Street Journal: "Starbucks Posts Decline in U.S. Store Traffic, Plans Ad Campaign."
An ad campaign. To increase awareness. How retro! They're going to use TV ads-you know, mass market, branding, all that. Sheesh, why aren't they grinding out interstitial EyeBlaster BrainBurst SoulSucker pop-up ads on all the kewl internet video sites?
Isn't that what everyone is supposed to do? Apparently not.
Maybe we're ready to move beyond the "Revenge of the Sock Puppet" phase of anti-branding. You remember the sock puppet mascot for pets.com? The lesson absorbed by VCs and CFOs everywhere in 2001 was, "Don't do anything even resembling branding, look what followed in the wake of the Super Bowl advertising for pets.com." Of course, it had nothing to do with their business model or the recession. Lots of targeted branding efforts were just thrown out with the bathwater. Branding somehow meant "Super Bowl ads." For years afterwards I met with marketers who said either the venture capitalists or their CFO said, "Yes you can spend millions of dollars, but don't you dare advertise for awareness or brand-building." I wonder if the marketers would ever turn around and say to the CFO, "you can run A/P and A/R but don't you dare use a spreadsheet!"
In this case, it appears as if Starbucks CEO Jim Donald is letting the marketers do what they were hired to do: marketing. As quoted in the Journal, Donald says Starbucks is getting into television advertising because "as we grow our stores, we're trying to reach out to this broader audience that maybe [has] not had a chance to experience Starbucks." I call that building awareness. The old-fashioned way.