What does Adobe acquiring Omniture mean?

September 15, 2009

Adobe agreed to acquire Omniture today for $1.8 billion. Some people say it makes sense, others still are wondering just what the hell happened. There are a couple reasons this makes sense on paper.

1. Adobe can now be a legitimate player in the data business against Google if they want to be. They own the creation, tracking and analyzing business. Google only holds the last two.

2. It can now possibly provide data to the creative types that never looked at SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics. No more arguing blue vs. orange or Buy vs Order.

3. Everything can now be tracked from flash, to pages, to mobile apps to social media. Media monitoring companies like Nielsen and comScore should take note.

That all sounds well and dandy, but traditionally acquisitions don’t go as planned. Corporate politics, culture and core business models interfere. This is definitely an interesting move in the digital marketing world and will be fun to watch what Adobe does in the next couple years. I think we are only at the tip of the iceberg for tracking and optimization.

What is next in the digital channel

May 12, 2009

After reading Steve Rubel’s post about the End of the Destination Web Era and The Cut and Paste Web and Anthony Power’s post about Destination Free Web, what is the future of the web? Portals had their run in the early days, hell, people still use them everything in once place that the portal thinks is important, and to some that is fine. Search engines made their mark, and all they really do is act as a travel agent. I tell them somewhere I think I want to “go” and they provide options. Social networks are relatively “new” and have risen exponentially in popularity. No longer are they strictly for the kids and college crowd. I even have friends that don’t use email and rarely use SMS, they just use Facebook as a communication platform.

So with all that, what is next and how can marketers adapt and continue to drive sales?

The Internet is changing how we consume media. I now read a lot less of a lot more. Sometimes I can barely follow a stream on Tweetdeck as so many people update during business hours or chat sessions like #journchat. Consumers are adopting these channels faster than most companies can comprehend. 

Will there be a “super social network” where everyone is involved? Can Facebook become that network? Does monetization matter and will advertising work in such an environment. An average individual visits over 100 domains a month, will this continue to rise as the dissemination of content increases or will the consumer pull back, start taking content and feeds from preferred sites and build their own site that brings them everything they need? RSS feeds, Twitter feeds and Facebook can provide a lot.

I believe we will continue to see the number of domains increase, and the amount of time on each decrease. People don’t have time to waste on the web and they have been trained like Pavlov’s dogs, if it’s not there, look somewhere else.

Marketers must realize this and provide valuable content in an engaging matter. It’s still relatively early. Marketers can even go one step further and provide content from competitors and other sites on their site, we all research products online and wouldn’t we all like to see competitive products compared so we can make informed decisions. Price is NOT everything.

It’s not going to happen overnight, but the digital marketing landscape is going to change even more and marketers must evolve with it, rather than trying to fight it.

Hitwise releases Oprah Twitter data

April 21, 2009

Whoever says Oprah doesn’t have an impact on society is full of it. Hitwise released data today showing the lift that Oprah gave Twitter. It’s quite impressive to be honest. There was a 43% increase in visits on April 17th from April 10th. 

Now, the larger question is will the early adopters jump the shark and head somewhere else now that every soccer mom in America knows what Twitter is? When Omniture Summit was in town, I asked a few key industry names why doesn’t anyone like Plurk, mainly Jeremiah Owyang and the responses were, “Who do you know on Plurk?”. It was a great response then, but will the early adopters of Twitter want to get away from the masses? Not sure Plurk is where they will go, but could be. What about FriendFeed? Or will they stay with Twitter and just keep their following to people they want. As long as Twitter can handle the bandwith issue, there is no immediate impact on any user prior to @Oprah and @aplusk.

At the end of the day, it does not matter. What does matter is that Oprah drove a ton of new people to Twitter and they will see a lot more accounts. The question is how can marketers utilize Twitter and how can Twitter monetize the increase in traffic.

Ad networks creating network building tools for publishers

April 21, 2009

It’s the first day of ad:tech 09 in San Francisco, and so far it looks like the reports coming out are dealing with a common theme. How can publishers get in on the ad network game themselves, not just relying on using them for remnant inventory. Publishers are realizing that the times have changed and media consumption has shifted to the long tail of niche sites and visits to “destination” sites are starting to decline. That is a big blow to the only revenue model most sites have, advertising.

Publishers are looking at ways to get those visits back under their umbrella of monetization. How else, but networks. As a business person, it makes a lot of sense. Aggregate content and make it easier to access the mass of niches that said publishers can access. As a media person, the last thing I want to see is more networks. There are so many networks out there already and very few can actually differentiate themselves. 

That being said, vertical/niche networks have their space in the media buying world and it will be fascinating to see if the “mass of niches” can compete with the large networks like Value Click and Platform A. Advertisers are looking to access the niches in a cost effective manner, and networks are a great way to do just that. Overall, this should help online marketing reach individuals in a more targeted manner.

Twitter hashtags for monitoring out-of-home

April 20, 2009

I had written in February about brands pushing the conversation to Twitter through “big seed” marketing and monitoring it through hashtags. Today I read an article about how Land Rover is doing just that. They are using out-of-home media to push people to Twitter and use hastags. The hashtag is #LRNY.

I am pleased to see this finally happen as it makes so much sense and hats off to Land Rover, Twittads and Wunderman for making this a reality. I’m sure we will see more of this kind of integration between digital and traditional as there is no incremental cost to using Twitter as the platform for conversation and hashtags make it easy to track/monitor.

Why online has the advantage with the mass of niches

April 14, 2009

Chris Anderson made a strong impression on me with his great book “The Long Tail”. As pretty much everyone knows, it’s about how the long tail to formed and we are no longer tied to the mega-hit. The sum of the tail can be just as big as a hit. That same concept applies to using media to target specific audiences. Traditional media used to be the way to get reach and frequency and online was never in the same sentence. 

That has all changed with the concept of mass individualism. Individuals who used to be seen as “outcasts” no longer have to rely on geographic location to find like-minded friends. The internet enables them to find people near and far with similar interests. We can thank MySpace really, for making that the norm. I may be be thousands of miles apart, a different race, 30 years younger and have a much lower income than “Phil” who also likes The Black Crowes. According to the premise of MySpace, we should be friends since we have a common interest. This concept quickly grew and Facebook went one step further and said you should be friends with people you actually know, but another post.

Now there are thousands or groups and interests that equate to a big audience.  These niches are based upon common interests expressed through the internet. From a marketing standpoint, the question is quickly becoming, how do you reach them. How do you reach the mass of niches? The answer is not traditional media. The media landscape has already fragmented and traditional media outlets mostly missed the chance to innovate. Digital media on the other hand is in a much better place to be able to aggregate the niches to hit the masses. Ad networks aggregate sites and forums aggregate individuals with similar interests to name a few ways digital can create a “mass of the niches”. 

Traditional media will not go away, it will change and still be effective for certain brands/products/campaigns. It just won’t be seen as the only way to reach the masses as we have seen, there is a new mass and a better way to speak with them.

Internet is the great equalizer of brands

April 14, 2009

There have been a lot of conversations concerning brands and the internet and dealing with search. Can search be used to build traditional “consumer” brands? Has search killed brands? How do the consumers interact with brands? Has search removed the competitive advantage of distribution?

At the end of the day, the internet has equalized the playing field. Brands can no longer rely on a warm fuzzy feeling, or a distribution deal better than the competitors, or a weak USP but being the only solution found. The consumer now uses the internet more and more and researches more and more. The current economic climate has created a large spike in search traffic for terms like “coupon code”, “promo code” and “discount”. There have always been those individuals that used the internet to find the best deals, but it is now mainstream. I don’t think it’s going to change either. Consumers now know they can get a better deal if they only search for one. Whether it’s x% off or free shipping, they are demanding a deal.

Brands can only control realistically 2 clicks on any given search (1 PPC and 1 Organic: I know it’s possible for indented links, but the majority only get 1 listing), so the rest of the links go somewhere else. They may go to blogs, resellers, channel partners wherever, it’s not the branded site. We can all thank Google for making it easy to find stuff from a personal reason, but brand managers can curse Google till the day they die for making it so hard to “control” the brand.

As consumers continue to use the internet for research and finding deals, it has ultimately leveled the playing field for brands to compete. Some will win on price, others will win on actually solving a real problem. The consumer will ultimately choose, marketers just need to realize the power of the web and the level field which we will playing on for awhile.

Twitter is to publishing as iTunes was to music

April 7, 2009

Twitter is posing a serious threat to the traditional publisher, both online and offline. The internet has changed how we consume media and Twitter is pushing the petal to the metal. We now consume a lot more of a lot less and with Twitter, it’s in 140 characters. Yes, I understand that a lot of times Tweets have links which take visitors back to content rich sites, but I can see news through a Twitter feed. This calls for innovation.

A similar switch in consumption has recently occurred in the music industry. People were no longer required to purchase the full album, but rather a single track. This allowed customized “albums” to be built. Purchased is a different story. Consumers no longer wanted to buy a $12 disc for a song or two, but rather 2 tracks for $1.98. Consuming a lot more a of a lot less. Similar concept. Niche categories like 23 genre’s of House were created and the long tail continued, read Chris Anderson’s book.

I know there are several other music models in the industry, but iTunes paved the way for innovation and a lot of skeptics have been forced to eat their words. As we continue to see newspapers fall, online publishers must take note and innovate or they will be next. They cannot compete on speed. Plain and simple, they will not win on breaking news stories. They must find ways to innovate. Today we may trust the local “reporter” who is next door just as much as a news outlet. 

Media outlets are at a critical junction in their existence. What was once the kings empire, is now at risk of falling to the commoner to a simple tagline of “what are you doing”.

Twitter: To buy or not to buy

April 3, 2009

A lot of buzz his morning about Google and Twitter. Will Google buy Twitter or won’t they? At the end of the day, Twitter will need to monetize it’s amazing growth or sell out and let someone else figure it out. Depending on what side of the fence you are on, you could argue which way makes the most sense.

Google buys Twitter:

Google knows what industry they are in. They have stopped trying to become the behemoth media company and focusing back on search. After all, it’s what they know. I didn’t Google was smart to try and get into print, TV and radio and now looks like they realized it. Google bought YouTube not because it was a better product than Google video, or more popular, but the search volume. YouTube now ranks #2 behind Google itself for search volume. Guess who is increasing search volume??? Yep, Twitter. The problem with the concept of Twitter as a search driver to monetize through ads is that over 50% of Twitter traffic is not through the site. Thanks Tweetdeck and TwitterFon!

Google to pass on Twitter:

The last point about Twitter search volume and how it’s not happening on Twitter. More and more applications are using the Twitter API to access the data and people no longer need to go to Twitter. Think destination free web. Google knows how to make money on search volume. It took them longer than I expected on YouTube, but video is a different beast dealing with context. Also, Twitter has become the search engine for NOW. If I want to know what is happening now, Twitter breaks the news the fastest. Just depends on who you follow to get it sent to you, or if you have to search for it. How many advertisers can predict what will happen and capitalize on what will happen in the future? Not many.

The risk for Google not to buy Twitter is that it will continue it’s phenomenal growth, and be a much more expensive acquisition in the future. Buy it while it’s “cheap”?

My two cents: I don’t want to see ads plastered down the side of Twitter search. If third party sites monetize through Google, that’s fine. Don’t mess with Twitter, even though less than 50% use it to access Twitter anyways.

So will we see a “Twoogle”?

Some Credit to BigSoccer.com, but media waste too

April 1, 2009

BigSoccer.com must be doing a behavioral targeting campaign since I am constantly seeing ads promoting ManU kits and the latest boots. I recently went to a soccer site to see when the Chelsea vs. Liverpool Champions League matches were, so I am guessing that is what started the “targeting”. It’s better to see ads that are relevant to my interests than dancing people and “go back to school” ads constantly.

Now, there comes a point when it’s too much. I can’t tell you how many soccer ads I have seen today. To me, there is a diminishing return on this campaign and it has reached that point. If they are using multiple networks, which I assume they are, that’s great to get some more sites, but BANNER burnout occurs much faster. I am guessing they did not net down the sites so that each network have exclusive inventory, even though all say they do, it’s such a small portion. So here I am seeing the same ad over and over.

Ad networks are a great way to target individuals online, after all, they allow marketers to target the user, not the site. That being said, marketers must be careful about over using them and actually doing more harm  than good to their name. Marketers must look at using multiple networks simultaneously carefully, so they don’t waste media spend and annoy their potential customer. Or flight the networks on a trial to see which ones work the best then move forward with a select few or one. Or use a third-party ad server which helps eliminate the issue completely.

I give Bigsoccer.com credit for targeting me as a consumer, but have a sneaky suspicion they are wasting a fare share of their media budget by utilizing multiple networks and not being able to cap overall impressions to an individual user.