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Is Facebook killing online advertising?

by Nick Faber
Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Oil Painting by A. Fudyma-Powers

The Facebook “Like” is having a great year. After pushing the “share” function into oblivion, the ubiquitous verb-turned-noun-turned-baby name has become a coveted honor badge for brands. Why? Quick and easy word of mouth. “Like” a post using Facebook’s social plug-in, your friends see it in their news feed, and more free traffic heads to the post. Same with pages, which also give brands easy access to your own stream. Facebook’s Page Discovery browser let’s you see which pages are most liked by your friends, and which brand wouldn’t want to show up there?

So is all of this “Liking” more valuable than advertising? In AdWeek’s coverage of the eG8, Michael Wolff quoted an exchange between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Publicis head Maurice Levy:

“If you think about advertising, what’s going to be more effective than any advertising you show is something your friend says they like,” says Zuckerberg.

To which Levy, in the business of showing, rushes to say, “I agree that recommendation and endorsement from a friend is sometimes more powerful than the greatest ad.”

Was Levi conceding the point? Probably not. As commenter Mark Rukman points out, word-of-mouth and advertising are old friends:

advertising/marketing/organizations create brands. brands create a short cut for meaning or perception. we hope for meaning, we usually only attain perception. perception in turn influences word of mouth. i don’t see that as long as most rationale c-level decision makers believe in game theory, advertising is going anywhere anytime soon. digital is what the world is becoming, but advertising with every successive new medium, has adapted and grown.

We can’t discount the impact Mark Z’s company has had on the life of brands, but in this case, we tend to agree with Mark R.

Brazil: Home of the outdoor (branded) event

by Nick Faber
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

This year’s Carnival has come and gone, but according to these clever branding initiatives, there is always something fun going on in the streets of Brazil.

In February, Coca-Cola and Definition6 converted this delivery truck into a mobile Happiness Machine. They hit the streets of Rio, and delivered Coke — I mean, Happiness — to people in the streets of South America’s second-largest city.

When Mu-Mu Milk launched in South Brazil last year, it faced a saturated market that wasn’t exactly clamoring for another “boring and white” beverage. How did they quadruple their market share in four months? They bought the exclusive sponsorship to the CowParade, the world’s largest urban art event.

How do you win friends at the biggest party in South America? You lead them to the beer. In a fun mix of old technology and new, Antartica Beer and AlmapBBDO invented the BEER GPS, so revelers in need could easily find the “BOA.”

So why Brazil? Is it because they’re hosting a future World Cup and Olympics? Or are Brazillians just really into staging big outdoor events? Marketplace’s Steve Chiotakis asked Weiden + Kennedy’s Andre Gustavo why agencies have their sites set on Brazil. Gustavo’s answer?

The obvious answer is because of the size of the market. Brazil’s got 190 million people living there, so it’s a huge market. Economy is stable, economy is growing, the country’s gaining importance in the world scenario.

If you zoom out of Brazil, and out of the ad industry, you’ll see that the entire continent is teeming with tech. Here’s TNW’s list of 10 South American startups to look out for.

The Ad Warehouse: Where Ads Live On as Content

by Nick Faber
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

In his essay, “It Will Shock You How Much It Never Happened,” Chuck Klosterman says this about our relationship with TV advertising:

We’ve become the ideal audience for advertising—consumers who intellectually magnify commercials in order to make them more trenchant and clever than they actually are. Our fluency with the language and motives of the advertiser induces us to create new, better meanings for whatever they show us. We do most of the work for them.

Somehow this relationship has not been as amicable when it comes to online ads. We block banners with browser plugins, get annoyed by half-page auto-expanders, and poke fun at contextual ads. Commercials get extra life on YouTube, TV specials and dedicated praise sites, while online ads appear today, and drift off into pixelated oblivion tomorrow. Until now.

We couldn’t help but notice a new trend of online ad warehouses. From Facebook’s ad testing ground, to what is essentially a rest home for banners that treat online executions with the same sort of dignity as their television counterparts, here’s our roundup:

Facebook Studio

In a move that garnered mixed reviews from the ad world, Facebook stepped into the online advertising arena last month, with a site that houses ad creative, case studies and awards. It’s integrated with Facebook Connect, allowing users to “vote” on their favorite creative by “liking” it. It seems like a site that would only be popular with industry types but with 31k “likes” for the site itself, you’ve gotta think it’s being used by non-ad people, too. (more…)

Persuasive profiling boosts advertising results?

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Move-on’s Eli Pariser had an awesome article in May’s Wired magazine about modes of persuasion.

Today, most recommendation and targeting systems focus on the products: Commerce sites analyze our consumption patterns and use that info to figure out that, say, viewers of Iron Man also watch The Dark Knight. But new work by Dean Eckles, a doctoral student in communications at Stanford University, suggests there’s another factor that can be brought into play. Retailers could not only personalize which products are shown, they could personalize the way they’re pitched, too.

Eckles set up an experimental online bookstore and encouraged customers to browse the titles and mark a few for purchase. By alternating the types of pitches—Appeal to Authority (“Malcolm Gladwell says you’ll like this”), Social Proof (“All your friends on Facebook are buying this book”), and the like—Eckles could track which mode of argument was most persuasive for each person.

Some book buyers felt comforted by the fact that an expert reviewer vouched for their intended product. Others preferred to go with the most popular title or a money-saving deal. Some people succumbed to what Eckles calls “high need for cognition” arguments—smart, subtle points that require some thinking to get (“The Hunger Games is the Inferno of children’s literature”). Still others responded best to being hit over the head with a simple message (“The Hunger Games is a fun, fast read!”). And certain pitches backfire: While some people rush for a deal, others think discounts mean the merchandise is subpar. By eliminating persuasion styles that didn’t work on a particular individual, Eckles was able to increase the effectiveness of a recommendation by 30 to 40 percent.

And here’s a simple 2006 video that sums up the strategy.

Direct response advertising indifferent to ‘content or context’

by henrycopeland
Monday, April 18th, 2011

By disaggregating individual readers into their interests/behaviors, does dynamic ad serving ignore something powerful?  Randall Rothenberg, past and future president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, gets into the topic in his Q&A with Adweek:

AW: If you can go back in the 15-16-year history of digital media and make a business adjustment, what would it be?

RR: I’d get rid of the dynamic serving of advertising. You want me to explain?

AW: Indeed.

RR: Direct response used to be expensive—you had to pay postage—but suddenly, if you could serve five ads on a page, in a medium where your incremental cost of content and distribution is practically zero, direct response becomes incredibly cheap. There’s nothing at all wrong with direct response advertising. But it’s a business that doesn’t care about content or context—it just cares about the yield curve.

AW: This idea of the free-floating audience—a demographically defined audience ofNew York Times readers, for instance, made up of people who have effectively never read the Times. Who’s that good for?

RR: The real question is, “Is man a modernist construct or a post-modernist construct?” Man in the modernist construct is a single, unitary, consistent being. Post-modern man consists of multiple cells. Reading the Times I’m a different person than when I’m watching what not to wear on Bravo.

We’ve always believed that one of the huge advantages of advertising on blogs is the knowledge that, beyond reaching an interested individual, your brand or message are tapping into passionate community. Most important decisions are based on social judgments — who else is buying or listening or laughing — and the smartest advertising leverages a communal consciousness.

Pert Plus: Slow-Cooked Branding with Facebook Ads

by Nick Faber
Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

photo via flickr user bnilsen

About three weeks ago, I noticed a Facebook ad that used the logo of our local AAA baseball team, the Durham Bulls. It said, “If you like the Durham Bulls you will like ‘Pert Plus.’”

My reaction to this ad was, “Um…. why?”

I took a screen shot, sent out a couple snarky tweets and forgot about it. Until today.

With the Bull’s opening game this Thursday, the missing piece of Pert’s puzzle clicked into place today:

Whether or not Pert’s marketeers intended to confuse fans with the first ad, it’s clear they got me thinking about the brand. And starting Thursday, they’ll be able to find me where I let my hair down.

New: tweetable ads (video)

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Internet Advertising FAIL

by Nick Faber
Friday, January 28th, 2011

Buzzfeed procured this list of 101 examples of really, really unfortunate ad placements. As a Balloon Boy fan, I have to say I’m a little partial to #89:

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…which is actually rather fortunate placement, if you’re targeting Balloon Boy fans.


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