Friday, April 18, 2008

Short Takes: 4.18.08

Here are some interesting XM and online marketing news items and links for your perusal:
  • A Billion Dollars in Internet Advertising is Wasted: The Internet is an exciting playground for marketers, but much of online display advertising is wasted. Banner ads have their place, but far too often they are used with too little thought, as if a marketing checklist says that X% of the budget has to go to online media, so it does. Extrapolating an Eyetools/Marketing Sherpa study, Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasions estimates that a billion dollars of online ad spend is wasted each year. The study finds that ads that appear "below the fold" are seen by only 25% of those who visit a page, and Rubel uses this data to estimate how much of the $5.1 billion that is annually invested in display advertising is totally invisible to Web surfers. The moral of this story is that creativity is needed to engage online consumers and care must be taken to evaluate media options, because not all banners are created equal.

  • Advertising Beside User-Generated Content Doesn't Work Either: Today appears to be the day for sobering reports on online advertising. eMarketer has an article about the failure of user-generated content (UCG) to produce significant ad revenue. Even though the number of consumers of UCG will increase from 94 million in 2007 to 130 million in 2012, "Advertising revenues are expected to stay (modest) for some time." The article quotes Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur, who said, “Nobody wants to advertise next to crap.” There is an element of truth to this, but I think there are bigger issues than quality. The most popular UCG is edgy, sexy, violent, political, or otherwise inappropriate for many brands. Plus, UCG is about consumer-to-consumer sharing; advertising beside or in UCG is as welcome as a TV ad inserted into the middle of your vacation video. All of this isn't to say UCG advertising can't be successful; just that it takes the right brand and creative to rise above the challenges.

  • Alternate Reality Games Draw Attention: iMedia has a lengthy article about Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), a new genre of advergaming that uses the Internet to create involving experiences that often span the virtual and real worlds. ARGs bridge the gap between entertainment and sponsorship by engaging "the audience with the right elements of immersive storytelling matched with the right delivery mechanisms that allow suspension of disbelief and active participation in the experience." If that sounds like geek speak, check out the case studies shared in the article: "Dead Man's Tale," an interactive experience designed to showcase both Windows Live Messenger features and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," drew more than four million consumers who spent an average of 35 minutes playing the experience. McDonald's is currently sponsoring an Olympic-themed online game called The Lost Ring, which has attracted 150,000 players. ARGs aren't for every brand, but for the right brand and audience, ARGs can create the kind of attention and engagement other marketing tactics cannot touch.

No comments: