Tag Archives: digital advertising

The agency of the future will be a horse of a different color

Brian Morrissey recently wrote in Adweek about the “great race” between traditional and digital shops to become the lead agency, that is, the agency that leads all brand communications efforts for the client among a stable of shops covering specific specialties.  Morrissey’s piece reports on a Forrester “state of interactive agencies” survey showing that only 23% of global interactive marketers believe that the “the traditional brand agency is capable of planning and managing interactive marketing activities.”  Conversely, only 22% think their interactive agency is ready to assume the leading role in managing all brand communications.  Thus the great race for world domination of brand stewardship between the traditional and digital agencies is off! To quote Morrissey, “…traditional shops scramble to add digital know-how and digital shops seek to move up the ladder to become brand stewards…”

Joseph Jaffee, in his latest installment of JaffeJuiceTV suggests there’s a third horse in the race, the social media agency.  (Thanks to Joe for drawing my attention to the Morrissey article in his video.)  You have to admire Joe for waving the social media flag, since his company, crayon, was just acquired along with two other companies by powered to create the first “social media agency with scale,” as I believe he calls it.

When a traditional agency acquires digital know-how — usually that means buying a digital agency — that’s one thing.  Integrating that expertise with the brand strategy capabilities of the acquiring agency is quite another.  Whether it’s a two or three-horse race, ultimately it’s about tearing down the walls that stand between traditional, digital and social in our minds and in the way we work so that ideas move freely, are informed and work across all three. It means bringing people of different minds, with different perspectives, together, ideally in physical space, not separating them into silos, so they can create something better and more powerful together.  The agencies that get that right will be the ones that win.  And then it won’t matter if they’re traditional, digital or social.  Because at that point they will be a horse of a completely different color.

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On Digg, related content appears next to your ad, instead of your ad appearing next to related content

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Digg is experimenting with a new ad format it’s calling Digg-fed content ads.  When you place this new kind of banner ad on Digg, it appears with links to former stories from the Digg homepage relating to your product or category or the interests of your prospective buyers.  Let’s say you’re advertising a food product with an ingredient that’s believed to reduce cholesterol.  Your banner ad could contain links to former Digg stories that support your claims of cholesterol reduction.

Sounds like an interesting way to monetize by leveraging the specific qualities of Digg’s information aggregation and rating model.  Digg thinks “ads will feel more relevant (and thus work better for brands) if they feature the kind of content we look for online.” I guess that’s true, because they provide the reader with background information, immediately accessible, that can help him or her evaluate assertions or claims made in the ad.  On the other hand, the advertiser can apparently control which links show up, and which don’t, which means the featured Diggs won’t necessarily paint an objective picture.  It also blurs the boundaries between the traditional separation of editorial and advertising content.

I thought the whole thing is also an interesting twist on the Google model of ads showing up next to related content.  In the Digg model, the content shows up next to the related ad.

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Peer Squared fast forwards the convergence of online marketing and social networks

Peer Squared is a new platform that allows people to share commercial messages with their online communities and earn points that are redeemable on Amazon.  It’s an interesting concept and the first one I’m aware of that actively encourages people to share brand messages on their personal social networks by offering tangible rewards for doing so.

Peer Squared Ducati

The motorcycle manufacturer Ducati just got on board, but I haven’t heard of any of the other four brands that so far have “programs” on the site.  So when Peer Squared calls itself “a peer-endorsed online marketing platform that rewards you for promoting the brands and products you love across the internet,” that’s only true if 1) a brand that you happen to love is there, 2) your motivation for promoting the brand is that you truly love it, vs. you’re only 1000 points away from that Sony speaker system you’ve been dying to get for free.

There’s the rub.  It’s one thing for brand enthusiasts to share messages and brand content out of their true love for the brand, with no motivation beyond the fact that when we find something we think is really good, there’s nothing more rewarding than being the source for others to discover and enjoy it for themselves.  And it’s perfectly legitimate for brands to help enable that, through widgets, links and sharable content.  That’s the beauty of social media marketing.  Your customers do the marketing, out of love for your brand, and that marketing achieves a new level of integrity and effectiveness.  But it’s quite another thing when someone’s motive for sharing information about the brand isn’t simply out of love, but out of a more self-serving objective — to get stuff in return.

And what does it say to our online social connections when we throw commercial messages in their faces, for products we in fact may not really believe in, for the sake of a few thousand Amazon reward points?  Is that what the social web is becoming?  A platform for shilling products to our friends?  “Hi friend, I interrupt my Facebook feed for this short commercial message.” With friends like that …, well, you know how the rest of the saying goes.

I’ve started a little experiment. I’ve signed up to Peer Squared and placed content on my Facebook page, Twitter and elsewhere.  I’m curious to see how fast I can accumulate points, and whether my social network notices, is indifferent or protests.

I’ll keep you posted.

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