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Lexus and Kontera Take Conquest Marketing to the Next Level

Earlier today a colleague shared with me a press release from Vibrant Media, the in-text ad network, that had been republished on The Auto Channel, a website that runs in-text ads from Vibrant’s competitor, Kontera. The release in question talks about an advertising deal Vibrant recently inked with Ford and Mazda. But since The Auto Channel works with the competition, readers who mouse over the words “Mazda” and “Ford” are presented ads from Lexus. Ouch! Unless you’re Lexus, in which case, Bravo!

Will Facebook Win Over Big Brand Advertisers?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has a problem on its hands:

Facebook’s estimated market value, now in the neighborhood of $70 billion, is founded on the belief that companies will spend big to advertise on the site. Facebook’s revenues, which come largely from ads, were $1.6 billion in the first half of this year, up $800 million from a year earlier.

But most of its ads were for small advertisers, such as local businesses and small-scale websites, according to comScore Inc. Facebook is under pressure to grow its advertising on a grand scale, and to snag the sort of big brand names who now drive billions of dollars to TV, radio and print campaigns.

Some of advertising’s biggest spenders aren’t yet writing Facebook checks that are in proportion to Facebook’s audience size, share of time spent by its users on the site, or its generally dominant position in the online ecosystem.

U.S. consumers spent 15% of their online time at Facebook in September, according to comScore. But Facebook is expected to capture just 6.4% of total online ad spending this year, according to estimates by research firm eMarketer Inc.

Just 6.4% of total online ad spending?! Eight years ago Facebook didn’t exist, and now it has 800 million members and captures more of our online attention than any other site. That all happened kind of fast, and large advertisers tend to migrate their dollars more slowly than consumers change their media habits.

Consider cable TV. Somewhere in the 1990s total viewership for cable TV channels began to match that of the big broadcast networks. By the summer of 2007, viewership of primetime cable TV shows was twice that of primetime shows on the broadcast networks. Yet only this year for the first time — more than four years after consumers spent more than TWICE their time watching cable — will cable TV ad spending exceed the ad investment in broadcast TV.

There’s no doubt that big advertisers will follow their customers to Facebook; they always follow consumers eventually. And the fact that much of Facebook’s revenues currently come from small businesses — who tend to be more demanding than large brands that ad investments quickly convert into sales — isn’t a liability. It’s a strong sign that Facebook’s ad products are delivering the goods.

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

Ford Taps Doug the Puppet as Pitchman

From Ad Age:

“In the annals of adland Ford is following a well-rehearsed script of using puppet power to help add spice to a brand. Puppets, after all, allow brands to get away with stuff no actual human brand representative could try. Imagine a real actor trying to be as louche as Doug — it just wouldn’t work for the brand. Ford also understands that social media affords brands multiple opportunities for experimentation/edgy engagement with customers. Doug’s behavior could be alienating on TV but in the back-and-forth banter of social-media conversation it is likely to be embraced and shared just as much as it is criticized or ignored.”

Even more fun are these proto-Muppets shilling for Wilkins Coffee:

Car Czar Will Control $7.3 Billion Ad Budget

From Ad Age:

“The world’s most powerful marketing executive is now the car czar…. Based on Advertising Age’s estimates of spending by General Motors Corp., Chrysler and Ford Motor Co., that would give the as-yet-unnamed car czar control over some $7.3 billion in marketing spending in the U.S. alone.”

Now there’s a guy I’d like to meet!

Ford Says Its Fans Can't Share Car Photos

Ford prevented a group of their most loyal customers — Mustang owners who are members of the auto enthusiast group Black Mustang Club — from assembling photos of their cars into a calendar. Full story at Boing Boing. I’m not sure it’s ever a good idea to sue your best customers, but you can sort of (sort of) understand record labels suing their fans when those fans — in their enthusiasm to share music with friends — cuts into record sales. But what is Ford thinking? A calendar of vintage Mustangs is going to divert paying customers??