Category Archives: Advertising Zeitgeist

How Do You Do Digital Focus Groups?

Digital Focus Group research is a subject we’d really like to hear your thoughts and input on. Occasionally we commission unique Focus Groups to vet our digital content and distribution strategies. Usually digital is tested along with all other media in larger Focus Groups covering multiple cities and target segments. There are pros and cons to both.

Without delving into the merits or demerits of the Focus Group format, we find them beneficial and additive to our thinking on the whole. There’s always a gem or two of Insight that we can synthesize from participant attitudes and comments. And we expect to get a thematic “zinger” comment that flavors our understanding of the target or our proposition. An example of this is when exploring attitudes about where we could take a certain beverage category a few years back, one participant called it a “chick drink” in less polite terms and that moniker flavored our consumer understanding and marketing approach.

One of the challenges we face in digital is that many Focus Group facilitators, while comfortable with the advertising creative and media of traditional media–a familiarity developed over 60 years of representative experience–simply can not successfully moderate around digital and emerging platforms. We’ve consistently seen digital thinking represented in the “Integrated Media Focus Group” as flats or print campaign equivalents. Or, even in animated form, presented as a website and not as an element in a holistic digital marketing approach. It’s challenging to take the armada of activity around which we go to market and have most moderators–let alone consumers–be informed about various digital media and interpret feedback on digital. Without good interpretation, it’s difficult to get a feedback loop that drives to the most insightful places.

The reason we do less focus group research in digital is because we have the laboratory of real time data, A/B testing, instant SocialNetwork surveys, campaign qualitative research and search as a proxy for intention and needs. At the same time, we’ve yet to find a better substitute for a client to participate “behind the glass” with our team hearing directly from consumer groups what they think, what informs their opinions and how they’re willing to behave around a variety propositions.

So, here’s the request and challenge to you: Who are the best at directing in-person Focus Groups for Digital and/or what other alternatives to you use? Let’s use the comment section below to create our compendium of resources.

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Treat Your Digital Talent Well

Brian Morrissey of Adweek asks on twitter: “is it cool for an agency to poke fun at the juniors stuck in the office while they whoop it up on the riviera?” and links over to his AdFreak blog post on the subject.

It’s worse than uncool, Brian, it’s another expression of the many ways that these titan(ic) agencies devalue their digital talent and digital in general. It’s categorized as “banner advertising” and lowly work when in fact it’s calling upon the smartest, most strategic people in the industry to implement effectively. And it’s often the juniors in these agencies that hold the greatest resident knowledge on how and why the digital channel works for brands in a way that respects the consumer.

Perhaps contempt for the digital discipline and talent is what happens at these parties which celebrate most heavily the last gasps of one-way and interruptive media. Those execs booking their retirement tickets to Boca Raton aren’t flaunting their excesses. They simply don’t know better and don’t need to. They’ll be outta here before the in-crowd is in.

And, for those smart, hardworking and valued people making things work at McCann or other BDAs, we want to hear from you. If you’re suffering from boulder fatigue–tired of pushing that rock up the hill in the face of arrogance and ignorance–consider a pure-play digital agency for a change. The water cooler conversation is a little bit smarter and the connections between you, the brand and the consumers are real.

Thoughts? Please comment below.

Digital Marketing POVs

Last month Susan Bratton interviewed me for her Dishy Mix podcast, blog and transcript publications. The interview drew a number of responses and I selected a few to answer. You can read them in more detail by following the links and I encourage you to comment with your thoughts, counterpoints and builds. And congratulations on those selected:

Hope you’ll weigh in with your thoughts either at the Dishy Mix blog or in the comments below.

What the kids are saying about brands online

One of our star copywriters teaches a first-year course on the subject at a local university. She presented some of our approach to acting as a Real Brand in a consumer-in-control world and got some great reactions. Here are some of the verbatims from the new school of advertising folks: Continue reading

Avoiding Facebook Backlashing

There’s a cute little video full of Facebook insider jokes. Go ahead and play it then join the discussion below.

Used to be the imitation was the highest form of flattery. Perhaps we should consider other forms of expression such as parody, satire or sarcasm (in some cases all three) high flattery.

Here’s a music video that it really takes an insider to catch all the references. You must really have fallen in love with this platform to express such intimate knowledge and express such a passionate falling out.

What’s the take-away, if any, for those in the ecosystem:

  1. Create value not applications.  If we start with real value creation for an audience with sensitivity to expression in the social graph, the brand, consumer and platform win. BTW, “create value, not applications” is a cute headline to suggest a better starting place than a brief that reads “we need a facebook applcation.” In reality, value can easily be expressed as an application as we’ve seen in the phenomenal growth of applications from RockYou and Slide.
  2. Look for innovation not imitation. It’s too early for this platform to have seen everything that can be done, so why does everything want to bite, compare, etc.? These aren’t just best practices, they’re launch pads to innovation. 
  3. Perpetual Beta/Revs. Consumer boredom is a natural progression and happens faster in the digital channel where novelty can wear off in seconds–just watch the regression curve of this video in 30-days.  The solution is to launch with something killer and then have your next 2-3 iterations budgeted and either concepted serially or designed from user input in beta.
  4. And stop the poking. 🙂

Thanks Emily for forwarding. Add your reactions and thoughts below in the comments.
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Could The Best Spot Be One You Can’t Find?

The Fox promotions machine was brilliant wrenching every ounce of value out of a declining medium during a writer’s strike. My sources tell me the most dvr-proof content includes live events–like the Super Bowl–and news (when it’s old you don’t need to record it). Still, let’s assume many people are using dvrs for replays, bio breaks and other conveniences. Before breaks and in those premium info-graphic areas Fox was promoting their directory which was largely anemic during the game–you could find a lot more of these ads on youtube and other places as a result. Lost opportunity, but the promotional thinking was great.

 But some of the best ads, IMHO, were the promotional bumpers for the Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, airing tonight on Fox. Consistent with the original debut of the campaign, the spots enter through the element of surprise. Gigantic info-graphic CGI footballbots provided blingy bumpers between the game and commercials. On the way out to commercial, recaps were accompanied by a “metallic” collosus that victory danced. During a couple of the breaks a classic Terminator leapt from behind the graphics to tackle and battle the footballbot. Surprising, entertaining and a little scary. And TiVo-proof. In the world of interruptive messages, this one did its job well: if you have to demand my attention with interruption, at least add some value.

I’m guessing that these “spots” cost about as much as the cheapo Dorritos efforts but got 10x the attention. And, none of the TV spot analysis seem to track these. Why? The future of mankind, if not the medium, is at stake here people. 🙂

I haven’t been able to find these bumpers in my searching. If you do, please post in the comments area below. In the meantime, here’s a promo spot that has equally good interruption and integration. Perhaps the revolution will be televised…

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Preliminary Superbowl Ad Recaps

A couple of links, and an embed…

Added: Neal Stewart recaps at the Denver Post
And a little ad that might appear if the player works–the secret spot from –if you can’t view it here, click the link, get through the age-gate and enter “1982” into the right hand sidebar to view a scatalogical wonder. Thanks DG for forwarding.

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Avoiding the R-word

Lots of people avoiding the r-word.  And there are also lots twittering about it in the digital marketing realm, mostly seeing it opportunistically. Will digital become the safe harbor and innovation be the place our economy finds comfort? For those with a passion for digital and chops in account, creative, strategy and project management in marketing and advertising, we’re 2.0pen for business. Please send resumes or message me on facebook. And check out David Armano’s post on thriving in these times.

What are your thoughts? Cheers! silva
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Publicis Groupe’s Levy on Us

Who will become the new “Brand Navigator” in the digital, consumer-in-control era? Maurice Levy suggests, “the person who best understands the brand,” which isn’t necessarily the creative or media shop. If the brand represents the intersection of Consumer, Brand and Market realities (as expressed in our Real Branding logo), then the new Navigator will be the agency–or integrated, collaborating group of agencies–that unlock the most powerful insights and execute in the most relevant ways. Continue reading

Brand Karma Transference

Marketing Case: Unilever portfolio management. Post Summary: A real brand is a promise. An Idea is the most powerful dramatization of the truth your promise holds. It will move your team, channels, communications, operations and consumer. Your consumer will love you for making this promise. And they will hold you relentlessly accountable to live up to your promise in this consumer-in-control age. This transforms the brand role from promise to praxis: truthful execution in all expressions of the brand, including master brands or even portfolios. Continue reading