On Google's Dominance- Is Automated Advertising Missing The Point

Maurice Saatchi writes in the FT that the ROI optimization inherent in buying targeted and automated advertising on platforms such as Google's AdWords misses the larger point about the human role in audience persuasion.

Admittedly, Saatchi and  Saatchi is part of Publicis’s ( nearly $6bn in annual revenue) empire , and their offline media buying and planning business is probably a decent chunk of that.  But near the end, there is this snippet: 

Human nature is not amenable to prediction based on the trends or tendencies prevailing at the time. It is amenable to startling creativity of the kind practised by great artists, directors, writers, musicians, actors, who know how to touch a chord in humans everywhere. They are the people that are needed to help advertisers navigate the internet because, as Aristotle knew 2,000 years ago: “Fire burns both here and in Persia. But what is thought just changes before our eyes. The decision rests with perception.”

I think this is an interesting question. If search advertising promises to present advertising messages only to those who show intent to purchase a product or service, is the search advertiser avoiding the true persuasive challenge of advertising? 

I'm tempted to think that any large advertiser would be foolish to fully ignore mass media campaigns and market research.  Metrics will have a place in advertising campaigns for the foreseeable future, but if Google's advertising platform gave advertisers the feeling that they left money on the table (in unrealized sales from persuasive campaigns), surely advertisers would start buying different ads?

follow up on NextMadison Ave: Book recommendation

At NextMadisonAve Michael Hurt from Microsoft suggested that people take a look at Porter's Strategy, which is largely viewed as a definitive work on corporate strategy.  For a really interesting look at why some strategies succeed and others fail, especially when it comes to new technologies, I would suggest folks check out Michael Raynor's The Strategy Paradox, which includes in particular a discussion of why Microsoft has been so successful over the years.

Mr. Hurt admitted that Microsoft has to struggle with the idea of whether it is a software company or an internet company.  He also used the term "audience company" but I think one still needs to account for the idea of where one thinks the audience is, and many strategy scholars would see successful strategies as being built on a bet about where the audience is: the desktop or the internet, for example. Raynor points out that the beauty of Microsoft has been that senior management (C-level and above) has created opportunities for developing businesses on both online, desktop, (and mobile, and video game consoles) so that they are not betting one one future shift.  A classic hedge.

See Raynor's book for more detail on how creating strategic options at the highest levels of an organization allows individual business units to focus on committing to a strategy and executing their bold ideas.

Raynor's work deserves more coverage; look for more summaries of his insights in future posts.

SEO for Baby Names

From today's WSJ:

[W]hen Ms. Wilson, now 32, was pregnant with her first child, she ran every baby name she and her husband, Justin, considered through Google to make sure her baby wouldn't be born unsearchable. Her top choice: Kohler, an old family name that had the key, rare distinction of being uncommon on the Web when paired with Wilson. "Justin and I wanted our son's name to be as special as he is," she explains.

So that's what we've been reduced to, is it?  SEO for baby names?

Online Video Monetization-oooh you scallywags

I just read in this AdAge piece that Brightcove is poised to be the syndication venue of choice for online video.  This kind of monetization opportunity is something I've wanted to see for a long time- I thought maybe Google video could make it work. 

I've been saying for about a year that there could be a business in a market making function- bringing content and viewers together at non-zero prices- that would be in everyone's interest..but I'm  not sure that Google video isn't better positioned and I'm also not sure it's even a business- what  are the margins like on online reservation platforms like SABRE etc?

In general, I think content owners are too paranoid to think straight about business opportunities in the download market. 

If the incremental revenue for a Dr. Who episode is zero when someone downloads a pirate copy but is X when someone watches a copy-protected stream from the BBC, the free copy wins the educated consumer with a little time on his hands (aka probably a majority of Dr. Who fans).  In my mind the issue is that content owners aren't willing to split the difference- as though introductory microeconomics ceased to exist for their products.  With smart pricing and a global content delivery network, this could be a killer, but buy-in from rights holders is a huge roadblock.   Sigh.

Services King of Chicago

Maitre D': You're Abe Froman?
Ferris: That's right, I'm Abe Froman.
Maitre D': The Sausage King of Chicago?
Ferris: Uh yeah, that's me.
Maitre D': Look, I'm very busy. Why don't you take the kids and go back to the clubhouse?
Ferris: Are you suggesting that I'm not who I say I am?
Maitre D': I'm suggesting that you leave before I have to get snooty.
Ferris: Snooty?
Maitre D': Snotty.
Ferris: Snotty?

[thanks wikiquote]

Someone sent me a link to a BusinessWeek story, "Could Apple Become Games Console King?" Just to put the fortune teller hats on, I think we ought to think back to when the Mac Mini was introduced, and everyone said it would be Apple's way to dominate the video home entertainment experience, esp. with Movies. The idea behind this seemed to be that the strategic move was quite clearly aimed at a video download type of environment.

 I'm going to pick Jan 2005 (the date of this "I, Cringely" column http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050120.html) as the date of collective conciousness of this strategy. So the  date of collective consciousness of the iTV/iGames strategy is September 2006.

How long before we get video games though ITMS?  Even if Apple is getting better at licensing, is in bed with Disney, and has plenty of great HW engineers, it is going to be a while, I think.  Not to mention waiting for 802.11n to be final.  It can't possibly take less time than the realization of the iTunes Movie Store.   Early 2008? That seems right to me.

If the PS3 ends up being as big an improvement over the PS2 as the PS2 was over the PS1, and the price settles a bit, I am not sure I bet on Apple to be the "Services King of Chicago" but Apple might sell a good bit of hardware...

Day 11 of the Fedex Monster

About a month ago, I discovered that a number of our invoices from dear ol' FedEx had shipments clearly not sent by anyopne ion my office.  Seems that Pape Diarra (near columbia University) sent Seneba Bone (Dakar Liberte, Senegal- on the western tip of Africa) 72.6 lbs of lord knows what.  There were  maybe a dozen shupments like this, to destinations in the US (viginaia, west virginia, Tennessee, Florida) all with shipper and recipient unknown to me. 

Our account number is in the wild somewhere.  Obviously, every day that goes by before our account is closed means that FedEX is performing a service for which it will never be paid.

Every customer service rep with whom I have spoken, and I bet there have been nearly 20 different ones, considering the number of phone calls, has been helpful and understood the seriousness of the situation.  However, seemingly as a result of our affiliation with a large research university, new acccounts must go through a specific account executive.  FedEX will not disclose his e-mail address or direct phone number, so all I can do is leave him two voice mails a day, which are unreturned.  I am at a loss.  I won't authorize payment on the airbills in question, but I can;t close the account until we have a new one.

Sigh.  What a shame for a company to treat us this way.


Note to self: fix categories in typepad interface.