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The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

This ad is awesome, right?

I mean, it’s a viral sensation that’s been viewed millions of times. And in a world where people skip 30-second TV spots and click on YouTube’s “Skip Ad” after 3 interminable seconds, it’s impressive to find yourself watching a 3-minute commercial to the end. But I find myself asking, was it a good commercial?

In a post on product design, Andrew Chen talks about the tradeoff between virality and alignment with your value proposition.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 1.35.58 PM

It might be useful to plot ad creatives on a similar chart, but with the horizontal axis renamed “brand alignment.” So I had my infographics guy whip this up:

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

Every now and then a brand creates a commercial that tells its story and everyone is talking about it: Awesome. Examples might be Coke’s Mean Joe Green commercial from my youth (and I’m still talking about it, thirstily), or anything from Apple. They create emotional experiences we want to share with others, and they make us desire a product at the same time.

Most commercials fall short of that magic but they’re good enough to watch, and with some frequency they can do their job of luring us into the mouth of the purchase funnel. Car and cosmetics commercials generally land here; nothing much to talk about, but we’d all like to look like those handsome happy people on TV. It’s been working for decades, and it still works.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a 2-by-2 matrix that doesn’t have a lower left quadrant. To steal from Andrew Chen, it’s the land of WTF. When I see a commercial that I don’t want to talk about and I can’t remember who made it, I sort of feel bad. All that money and marketing-department optimism gone to waste. Look, it’s hard to make a great film, let alone a great one that can be told in half a minute and also highlights a product. Perhaps we should admire the brands that depart from the traditional promotional formula and flap their waxy wings toward a higher ambition, even if the heat of the sun sends them crashing down in the end.

But back to the Thai cellphone commercial above. The vertical axis is hardly tall enough to capture its viral success. But does the story make you want to switch your cellphone service to True Move H? Did you know it was a commercial from a cellphone company called True Move H? In my case, I was dabbing tears from my eyes for the few seconds during which their logo appeared on screen. No doubt True Move made a great short film, but if I consider it a marketing tool, I’d place in the upper left quadrant: (Un)Branded Entertainment that fails as an advertisement.

The United Brands of America

Brands by State

A map of America with each state represented by its most famous brand. I don’t know who counted the votes here, and I’m surprised by a few picks: Caterpillar over McDonalds in Illinois, Wendy’s over Tide in Ohio, and Verizon in the #1 spot for New York. Meanwhile I’m wondering how the folks at Tropicana are feeling about Florida.

That Awesome U2 iPad Commercial

I just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. If you haven’t already done the same, get on it.

One of my favorite scenes is the description of Bono visiting Jobs at his Palo Alto home in 2004 to pitch him on including U2′s soon-to-release new single in the next iPod commercial.

Superstar musicians normally charge enormous fees to companies that want to associate a hit song with a product, if they’ll rent out their songs at all. Microsoft, for example, paid the Rolling Stones $10 million to use “Start Me Up” in commercials launching its new operating-system software, Windows 95. It’s kind of incredible, then, that a tech company’s brand had become stronger, cooler and more accessible than one of the best-selling rock bands of all time — so much so that the band licensed its single to Apple free of charge. It’s even more impressive that the band was U2, who, according to Rolling Stone, were especially reluctant to partner with corporate sponsors.

In their twenty-five-year history, U2 have never licensed their music for commercial use or even accepted tour sponsorship. With radio playlists strictly formatted and MTV showing more reality-TV shows than videos [however], many bands are looking for new ways to bring their music to the public. And so U2 launched the first single from their upcoming album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, with an iPod ad rather than a video.

Given that another iPod spot (in 2006) helped Bob Dylan debut his new album, Modern Times, in the #1 position on Billboard’s chart — something he hadn’t done in 30 years — you have to credit Bono with his prescience. Clearly he’s no marketing slouch either.

Smartphones Outsell Features Phones Among US Buyers in May

According to data from Nielsen, smartphones outsold feature phones among US buyers in May — for the first time ever. While Android is the leading OS (38% of smartphones versus 27% owning iPhones), Android’s marketshare has flattened among new buyers. Over the past 3 months the percentage of smartphone buyers buy iPhones has jumped from 10% to 17%.

200 Brands With the Largest Ad Budgets

Would you have guessed that Chevy spends more than Ford or Toyota? Or that Macy’s spends more than Target? Other rankings that surprised me: Arm & Hammer spends more than Gatorade, Kia spends more than Volkswagen, and Ashley Furniture spends more than Ikea.

Check out this great infographic that ranks the top 200 brands by the size of their 2009 and 2010 ad budgets.

Top Auto Ad Spenders

The top two in each category (first, second):

Auto: Chevy, Ford
Retail: Walmart, Macy’s
Apparel: Skechers, Nike
Telecom: AT&T, Verizon
Restaurants: McDonald’s, Subway
Food and Beverage: Coke, Campbell
Beer: Budweiser, Miller
Cleaning Products: Tide, Clorox
Financial Services: American Express, Chase
Beauty and Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Olay
Insurance: Geico, Progressive
Consumer Electronics: Microsoft, Apple
Media: DirecTV, Dish Network
Drugs: Lipitor, Cialis

Google Inserts Ads in iPhone Maps

Google has been inserting ads in iPhone maps for a few months. I spotted my first one yesterday.

Google Ad in iPhone Map

I’m guessing I should blame ATT for the frozen incomplete map above (it never loaded more that this), but I was annoyed that delivering the ad got higher priority than delivering my map. And for that I blame Google and Apple. Perhaps the map failure had nothing to do with the extra load of serving ads — but until the mobile map feature is highly reliable in San Francisco, Google and Apple should sequence the serve calls so that the ads load only after the map loads.

On the relevance front, I’ll give Google a C+. True, I was driving a car across the SOMA district of San Francisco, where Firestone Complete Auto is located. But I gave Google a few hints that I wasn’t on the market for automotive service at the time, and it ignored them. First, I didn’t search for automotive service. Second, I did search for a driving directions for a business a few miles from my current location — which suggests my car was running fine at the time.

Mobile Users Prefer Browsers Over Apps

eMarketer on mobile browsers vs apps

According to research conducted by Keynote, US mobile phone users prefer browsing their way to favorite websites rather than downloading an app version of the site that’s been optimized for the mobile-phone experience. The only categories where mobile users prefer apps over the standard browser experience are social media (namely Facebook and Twitter), games and music services.

The findings bring me back to 1999, when websites were obsessed with building-client app or browser-extension versions of themselves, only to realize that web users mostly opted to skip the download-and-install process in favor of browsing, bookmarking or searching for content by way of an upstart called Google. As eMarketer suggests, this data will disappoint sites that were hoping to use apps to snatch up permanent real-estate in a smartphone land grab:

“These preferences may surprise mobile experts who consider apps to offer the best content and shopping experiences. And marketers may be frustrated as well; getting an app on a user’s home screen is a constant reminder of the brand, but it doesn’t make sense to offer an app users don’t want.”

Interesting implications, too, for Apple’s iAds, the business unit dedicated to creating in-application advertising that, like the apps themselves, is designed exclusively for the smartphone experience. Maybe the naysayers are right.

Save Time and Money With Multiproduct Commercials [Spoof]

The Multiproduct Commercial from Therefore Productions on Vimeo.

(Thanks, Nicole!)

Carol Bartz, Henry Blodget Say iAds Will Flop

Jobs Presents iAds

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz on Apple’s mobile advertising platform, iAds, as quoted by Reuters:

“That’s going to fall apart for them. Advertisers are not going to have that type of control over them. Apple wants total control over those ads.”

Henry Blodget agrees.

“And if it’s not the control issue, it will be the production costs and the 40% cut.”

The early results, per WSJ, suggest the same:

“Since launching its iAd mobile advertising service on July 1, Apple has been slow to roll it out. Of the 17 launch partners Apple named for iAd, only Unilever PLC and Nissan Co. had iAd campaigns for much of July. Of the remaining 17, Citigroup Inc., Walt Disney Co. and J.C. Penney Co. — which tied its campaign to the back-to-school-season — have since launched iAd campaigns and other companies are planning iAd efforts.”

I dunno. Clearly the iAds approach is ruffling feathers up and down the ranks of the existing advertising military-industrial complex, especially the agencies. Those agency leaders have power to blackball campaigns destined for iAds — right now. But maybe Apple is betting that, by inserting itself deeply in the creative process, it can replace the agencies entirely.

Young Steve Jobs

There’s a little Don Draper in Steve Jobs, no?

The iPad Might Save Newspapers, But Salvation Will Be Expensive

NYT iPad app

From the Merc News:

“Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo., said Apple probably will take a 30 percent cut of all subscriptions sold through the company’s online App Store, and as much as 40 percent of the advertising revenue from publications’ apps.”

Wait, can I change the above headline? It sounded expensive when I first read the article, and then I thought about it. Take a look at the budgets of print and online magazines: The big costs are sales, marketing, collections, IT, paper and printing, etc. The editorial function usually represents less than a quarter of the total expense budget. Same is true for newspapers. Outsourcing 75% of the costs in exchange for 30-40% of the revenues — that has to increase profitability, right?

As I write this, I’m looking out the window at a crane that’s installing a cellphone tower on our roof. Our newest rent-paying neighbor is moving in upstairs. Digg (like Verizon or Sprint, as of today) leases space from the SF Bay Guardian, a free ad-supported weekly paper that is, I gather, very eager to find any new channels to increased profitability.