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I’ve been reading a lot about Artificial Intelligence, self-driving cars and trucks, brick layers whose jobs are in jeopardy because of robots….and that’s just in today’s paper. As a brand planner I have to admit it makes me a bit giddy to think about what the art of branding will be like when things are more automated.  I suspect there will be more compliance. The biggest hurdle to compliance when it comes to following brand strategy is, ta-dah, the people. The creative brain. The need to problem solve in one’s own unique way.

Coloring outside the lines in brand strategy doesn’t work. Its s slippery slope. Brand managers get sidetracked. They see something shiny and skirt away from the claim and proof array that is their brand’s organizing principle.  SEO and Adwords might go off on a tangent that spikes sales. A new TV campaign might hit the front page of Vice. Little marketing tickles that cause a brand to veer.

Machines won’t let that happen. They are relentless. Machine learning is focused…and relentless.

Kind of stoked. Peace.


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Dan Zarrella, who has a neat person brand in social media, posted an interview with rap blogger Eskay providing a smart take on social media. Check it out here. In a nutshell it suggests social media is a good music marketing tool but not nearly as important as the music.  The artist who sits around focusing on his/her Twitter or Facebook metrics is not focused on the art. Not really feeling the audience. Certainly not the way they can by performing.

Most musicians do care more about their art than the buzz, that’s why they are more effective in social.  They post things that fans care about.  The word “fans” is the operative word.  Bands, performers, artists have fans. Cooking oils don’t.

Community building and social media is about fulfilling a need. Filtering and organizing a need. It’s not about selling. It’s okay to make your product or service available or one click away in an online community, but stop hawking.  Facebook knows that too much selling on the site will be its downfall. And it hasn’t yet figured out how to deal with that truism as it adds tens of thousands of users each day. Google learned this early, and smartly sequestered the sell from its Adwords program.

Selling is crawling into social media at a higher and higher pace. And it’s coming to a mobile device near you very soon.

So what do smart marketers do? Focus on their art. On their product. Use social media for sure…it’s an amazing tool. Enagage. Learn. Most importantly enable.  But stop cheesing the social web. Peace!

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Quick, you want to buy some mobile ads for your soccer team’s fundraiser and you want them to run locally.  Oh, and you need to run before next weekend. To whom do you turn? Nice question, huh?

I once tried to get a quote to run mobile ads in NY State, contacting Google’s AdMob group. There was no phone number so I had to send them an email.  They got back to me with a very underwhelming form letter months later. New school service.

If you want to run mobile ads these days you need experts, like a digital agency. And then you had better have a half millions dollars or they won’t take your call. Let’s not even talk about ad serving technologies, reports, and optimization of the ads.


The one company equipped to do mobile advertising for the masses is Google, via AdWords. Search is an especially important consumer need while mobile, and search is what Google does best, so why are they not launching a mobile-only version of AdWords? A version with an easy-to-use interface, from a site with DIY instructions, and offers quick turnaround?

As the mobile algorithms get smarter and more ads are served to phones unrequested, people are going to start to get mad.  And that’s a bad future for mobile advertising.  A good revenue future is for Google to own mobile search ads the way they do on laptops and desktops. Google needs to stop diddling around all the other stuff and open up this market. If they make it so that small businesses can buy mobile ads without needing a doctorate degree it will grow the overall market and give them an unfair share. Peace!

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Following a successful pitch a number of years ago, I was told we won the business because we were bold enough to suggest keeping the previous agency’s tagline. According to one board member who had been with L’Oreal, this was unheard of in the healthcare industry.  The brand strategy we pitched was perfectly in synch with the organizations existing tagline, so why get rid of it?  The problem was, the incumbent agency’s advertising wasn’t proving the tagline.  Their ads were communicating and informing but not in an organized, brand-building fashion.

Marketers have to find a brand promise, believe it, live it and invest in it. It should be supported in news, trade shows, retail, ads, Adwords, tweets, etc. As a client once said to me, all communications need to make deposits in the brand bank.  Not random deposits — planned, meted, brand-differentiating deposits, based upon a brand plan. A brand plan is hard to make but simple to follow.  It comprises a claim or promise and three discrete support planks. Prove the promise through the planks every day – in messaging and product development – and you will build your brand and market share. The brand plan sets you free. Peace!

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Steve Rubel is alike a big fish swimming in the ocean siphoning millions of gallons of water each day for nutrients. For a human, he really has a great deal of processing power. If you only read one blogger (oops, lifestreamner) a day as a marketer, Steve is not a bad place to start.


Today he posted a gem ranking trusted sources of advertising. The study, a top two-box (trusted “completely” or “somewhat”) ranker from Nielsen, suggests that the least believed forms of advertising are: text ads on mobile phones (24%), online banner ads (33%), online video ads (37%) and search engine results (41%).  

Recommendations from people known (90%), consumer opinions posted online (70%) and branded websites (70%) top the chart. Traditional forms of advertising: TV, print, OOH and radio, lie midway in the high 50s and low 60 percentiles.


It makes sense that ads that are the least expensive to produce are the also the least trusted. When more people can afford to create ads they may not be held to professional and legal claim standards. Also, those ads often done in-house or by DIYers lack professionalism. 

The low score for search engine result ads, though, surprised me. I know they are paid for, but the “algorithm” is supposed to correct for relevance. Could it be that the algorithm isn’t working hard enough? I’ve run a couple of AdWords programs and have been somewhat pissed at the high “bid numbers” on certain terms. If Google is watching the bottom line, not the search relevance line, it may want to do a rethink. Peace!



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Twitter does not yet have a revenue model. Here’s one to ponder:


The service should continue to be free for subscribers. To generate revenue I think Twitter should sell small ads on the direct messaging page and those ads should be targeted based on hash tags and other behavioral targeting information gathered. If, for instance, someone uses the hash tag #iranlelection, maybe their direct messages will contain a small ad for The New York Times. In addition, I’m wondering if the keyword bidding and pay per click method pioneered by Google Adwords would also be smart.


Think about it and get back to me. Peace!



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There’s a little rift going on at Google over ad revenue: One faction feels that more ads should be served while the other faction wants less. The “more” group thinks ad revenue would have been higher this last report had they their way. The “less” people feel fewer, more highly targeted ads will bring out advertisers willing to pay higher prices.  
I have been managing an Adwords campaign through Google for a while now and beautiful algorithm aside, I get the sense that there are some human decisions taking place there that have been shutting down my keywords. There are times when Google says a particular keyword should cost me $4.00 which I am not willing to pay. So I get shut out.  I wouldn’t be upset if I searched that keyword and there were lots of other advertisers there but sometimes there aren’t. I smell a brain. A capitalist brain. 
Let’s give Google Adwords back to the algorithm.

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Measure This

I finally figured out what business Google will be in 10 years from now: the media measurement business. Google will be the new “data” company known for measuring media habits, advertising effectiveness and purchase predisposition. The company born of search will become the world’s leading marketing analytics company.
Google’s work with the Nielson Company measuring cable TV viewership takes TV advertising accountability to a new level. We already know what Google has done with its AdWords program, which is probably only a few months away from being a lot more timely, powerful and predictive. And should they decide to focus on it, digital radio won’t be far behind. Google’s analytics and algorithms will help advertisers optimize ads, and trust me, that is a sweetspot. The only hiccup I see is if someone high up in the company, responsible for this part of the business, decides to venture off before Google completely believes in the effort. 
I’m no economist and forget what the exact data point is, but advertising and marketing is somewhere over 20% of the U.S. GDP. To be the company known for optimizing that chunk of change is a reachable goal for Google…and a truly focused mission, which it smilingly lacks right now.

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