How To Make It In America

I noticed a lot of activity for this new HBO show when I was in New York last week and was intrigued as the activity kept popping up in my media space.

From what I can see, the show’s been launched via a really kick ass integrated media campaign – so kudos to whichever agency planned it (I think it might be PHD New York – anyone know?).

They did a lot of outdoor, press and online display – so far, so standard.

HBO put a lot of content (behind the scenes, interviews, photos) on the HTMIITA microsite on the main HBO website – yeah, yeah, I know you’ve seen that before.

But then, what they did, which lifted the campaign and really extended the characters & storyline, was run a lot of integrated activity with key online sites.

Foursquare: If you check into venues that have been tagged by the show, then you can get one of four special badges – Culture, Living, Cocktails, and Nightlife. They’ve also incorporated information from NYC city guide websites like Black Book, Eater, Urban Daddy, Flavourpill and Racked. Willsh has rightly pointed out that the NYC Uniqlo is not the only one in the Western Hemisphere.

Facebook: Check out the mixtape tab – how cool is that?

Twitter hashtag: They’ve taken ownership of their hashtag, which is really nice forward thinking about how to aggregate tweets that come in when the show airs on Sunday nights.

YouTube: You can watch short clips here.

Flickr: Fans of the show have joined this Flickr group and contributed their photographic takes on NYC. There is a lot of great music in the show, so a very nice library has been created to collate the show’s musical influences.

Nicely done.


Helping People Remember Online

This week I was doing some research for a client presentation and I kept thinking, “Oh yeah, I remember that display ad, it would be great to find it and to show the client that.” Working in the advertising industry, I have the tools to be able to do exactly that. Then, I thought to myself, what happens for people who don’t have access to those tools?

What happens to the average person who sees a great online display ad, doesn’t want to click on it, but wants to remember it and refer to it later? The person who goes off and does something else / gets distracted and by the time they’ve come back to their computer, has completely forgotten the name of the brand in that cool, whizzy ad they saw earlier? Well, they’ll probably do a few things:

  • Remember the category and do a search on that category
  • Go back to the website they were on and refresh the page a few times, hoping that the ad reappears
  • Do a general search for words that might bring up the ad
  • Get annoyed and do something else

None of these actions will benefit the brand with the cool, whizzy ad, because it’s highly likely that they haven’t created a search adgroup that references any memorable qualities from the online display ads. But when post-impression (when someone sees an ad, doesn’t click, but goes to the brand website at a later date) to post-click (when someone sees an ad, clicks on it and goes to the brand website immediately) conversion ratios average at 95:5, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you give people who want to find you a helping hand?

For everyone’s talk of banner blindness, good creative execution in any format, even the dreaded 468 x 60 banner will make people stop and have a look. Whether or not they click, is a different story. Clickthrough rates have been decreasing, to the point where a CTR of 0.30% is considered ‘good’. Given this, it would be silly to use CTR as a primary metric and it would be an uphill battle to rely solely on post-click conversions to deliver a positive ROI.

Yahoo have put together some very interesting research on ‘digital memories’, which says that 76% of the women and 75% of the men surveyed cannot remember anything relying on memory alone. Both sexes rely hugely on sending information to themselves as a memory aid, with 60% of men and 66% of women sending emails to themselves. Interestingly, there are people who are taking photos of ads (14% of women and 23% of men) in order to remember them.

So what’s the solution?

According to the Yahoo research, “men are different to women with their opinions to ads; improvements to advertising would make them think more highly of internet ads whereas women would feel less frustrated.”

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we gave people the tools to remember online advertising within the ads themselves? Some brands are already doing this, but they seem to be few and far between. Just as media owners are adding sharing tools alongside the ubiquitious ‘send to a friend’ CTA at the bottom of (almost) every piece of audio, video and text content they release, advertisers should be doing the same.

Should we start adding a ‘send this to me later’ or ‘remind me later’ to ads? Should ads be ‘bookmarkable’?

What do you think?

*image courtesy

Two Great Innovations

Google continue to push innovation in the search space and judging by this video, aren’t messing around when it comes to mobile. Their acquisition of AdMob means that they will be a major player in this space and have pretty much got both mobile display and PPC advertising covered.

I know that this is just a prototype, but in the future, this will probably be the way that we read magazines. I love how interactive the experience is and how a media owner, in this case, Time Warner, is pushing for innovation in their category.

The way they’ve set up the magazine and the experience reminds me a little bit of Rio Ferndinand’s #5 magazine. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to have a look. It’s surprisingly good and makes great use of the Ceros platform.

Our Field Trip To The Guardian


Today, a few of us went along to the Guardian’s brand spanking, boxfresh new offices in King’s Cross for a tour and a brainstorm. And this is what we saw.

Cork Stool

A lovely cork stool. 

Cardboard Signs

Eco-friendly cardboard signs. 


The Canteen

Bold colour encourages effective mastication. 


The View

The view was quite nice, don’t you think? 

Lovely Meeting Rooms


I had a unrelenting case of size envy. 


Coffee Time

We got the good coffee and biscuits. 

Thanks Sara!

Meeting rooms are plentiful. Thanks Sara!

Bringing Media Owners In On The Accountability Party

Times are tough. Folks are being made redundant, clients are focused delivering their bottom lines and generally moving away from brand campaigns and media owner revenues are in free fall across many sectors. ITV are announcing their profit results on Wednesday and from what I’ve heard, it’s not going to be pretty. There are similar stories across a number of other media owners. 

However, what’s quickly becoming apparent is that any medium that can demonstrate accountability is on the receiving end of increased spend levels. It’s a no-brainer that paid search continues do well. But what about online display? This has traditionally been an area where the cost per thousand (CPM) impressions buying model dominates and clickthrough rate (CTR) has been the main reporting metric. My views on CTR are already known, so I won’t reiterate them. What I’m more interested in is the change in the way that media agencies are looking at online display accountability. 

A traditional cost per thousand impressions model is based on generating reach within a network / site / channel / target audience and using the creative to generate awareness or clicks. With CTRs falling and ‘Ignore-Thru’ rates rising, we need to do more to engage users. But should it be the sole responsibility of the media agency to deliver the client’s objectives? No. The cost per acquisition (CPA) model is widely used on direct response campaigns, with media owners who fail to deliver the target CPA being dropped from the schedule. 

But what about campaigns where there isn’t a hard acquisition target or where there’s a brand response objective? This where the media owner needs to come in on the accountability party. Based on the sales pitches I’ve seen recently, media owners have confidence in their product and their ability to deliver relevant audiences. If this is truly the case, I really believe that they should be happy to share the responsibility of the campaign with the media agency. This means moving from pure CPM buying to cost per click (CPC) / cost per view (CPV) / cost per landing (CPL) / cost per acquisition buying. This ensures the media owner has equal responsibility in shouldering the weight of the campaign. The media owner gets access to the ad server data, can see how activity from their site is doing on a post-click / post-impression basis and everyone’s a winner. 

What do you think?