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Sunday, May 31, 2021

Because if it’s online it’s sexy, advertising agencies are focusing more analytics on what works when and how on the Web:

Major advertising holding companies like WPP, the Publicis Groupe, Havas, MDC Partners and the Interpublic Group are starting data practices, hoping to latch onto what is expected to be the fastest-growing category of online advertising in the next five years.

Where the data guys were once an afterthought in a marketing presentation, now they are at the core of the online strategy. What’s more, they can help advertisers save money in traditional media by testing different phrases or images online to see what works before producing an expensive television commercial or magazine ad. Who attracts more clicks in a grape juice ad, for example — the blond girl or the brown-haired boy?

The shift to data-based campaigns is forcing marketers to learn new skills and drawing a new breed of worker to Madison Avenue. While most data executives now in the field came from media backgrounds, they are recruiting Wall Street math geniuses because the job requires hourly adjustments in strategy based on numbers.

Something of a disclosure: A couple of months back I was in talks to join Performics, which had just then been purchased by Publicis Groupe, and thus now represents that agency giant’s spearheading into the new media analysis/optimization sphere. I’m actually disappointed that it didn’t come off, because it strikes me as a challenging way to translate traceable data into actionable results. (Maybe the new kid on the block, the fast-hiring Varick Media Management, will give me a shot…)

That said… The data-mining of Web logs is ultimately an attempt to combat the oft-quoted “wasted half” of ad spending:

“I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I’m not sure which half.”

And yet, analysis that relies upon the clicking behavior of the online audience is, in itself, limiting. Like I said before:

Clickthru offers the illusion of advertising-and-transaction tracking, but really it doesn’t — it just spits back a metric on the initial gateway action toward a strictly potential online purchase. Factor in accidental clicks and just plain tire-kickers, and the notion that clickthrus represent real advertising effectiveness becomes awfully shaky.

Truthfully, clickthrus represent merely the fervent desire by advertisers, marketers and syndicates to see some solid linkage between Web exposure and sales. There undoubtedly is — I’m sure a percentage of those clicks brings in immediate revenue. But it’s never going to be the majority. Online tracking is going to have to get a lot more robust before this dream is realized.

On top of that, the obsession with clickthrus as the defining metric disregards the more old-fashioned effectiveness of advertising: Exposure. Getting a logo, slogan and other messaging in front of eyeballs is just as vital as active user response. Probably more, actually: It implants brand retention that can carry over during visits to the grocery store and other points of purchase. The idea that an ad “fails” because it doesn’t prompt immediate purchase ignores this tried and true ad behavior. The lack of precise trackability is the only thing that detracts, and that’s more a deficiency of the Web as a media channel than anything else.

A simple example: No one buys beverages online, so from a data-parsing perspective, response rates for beer and energy drink ads from Budweiser and Gatorade on ESPN.com and various fantasy sports sites should be low and therefore ineffective. But simple exposure to the known audiences that spend big chunks of their media-viewing time on those sites is known to translate into mindshare, which translates into offline purchases at the grocery store. No clicks required.

And actually, that simple example does have potential data-practice application: Comparing the geographic spread of a site’s Web logs with its adspace impressions, and then both of those with the physical in-store sales figures, should give a pretty clear picture of the offline impact of online ad presentations. Further drill-downs can focus on particular timeperiods and promotions. Eventually, I guess it does all come back to the data-crunching…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/31/2009 09:42pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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How much is that candy in the window? Probably dollar-for-dollar equal with the massive dental bill you’d accrue from putting so much sugary-sweetness into your mouth.

This is the storefront scene at Economy Candy, a 72-year-old small-shop institution in SoHo. I couldn’t resist cameraphoning this window-ful of color while walking along Rivington this weekend (actually on my way to another purveyor of super-sweetened foodstuffs, Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery). Bigger and better photographic record on Flickr.

Nothing like displaying your wares to attract business. Handy local for an impulse purchase of a halvah, too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/31/2009 07:29pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Photography
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There was a moment during the final episode of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” that’s really bugged me, and confirms what a douchebag Leno really is:

In the final minutes, as he was doing the customary thank-yous to everyone involved in his 17-year run on the show, Leno mentioned all the camera operators, production workers, and other behind-the-scene workers. He then put special emphasis on how all those folks are union employees, and that “Tonight” was a union-produced show, and that he was “very proud of that”.

Strange hearing that, considering that Leno prominently disregarded the picket lines during 2008’s Writers Guild of America television and film industry strike by performing scripted material on his show. As a WGA member, he was expressly forbidden from doing that, and the fact that the other late-night talkshow hosts (including his successor, Conan O’Brien) adhered to the strike rules made Leno’s actions that much more objectionable. No two ways about it, he was a scab.

So basically, Leno supports a union shop — except as it might apply to him personally.

Like I said, a douchebag, and a hypocritical one at that. Either his memory is short, or he assumes the audience’s is. I guess everyone else’s recall is just that short-term, because I’ve seen no one else call out Leno on this. All the media reports on his 11:30 swansong have focused on the schmaltzy sendoff he gave himself, including that cloyingly-sweet group picture with a bunch of children at the end.

Appropriate actually, because it really emphasizes how predictably lowest-common-denominator Leno’s schtick is, and how exploitative he really is. He can rot on his new 10PM gig.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/31/2009 06:18pm
Category: Business, Celebrity, TV
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