Looking back over my notes, tweets and the #iabalm stream, here are my favorite nuggets from this year’s IAB get-together:
One tweet that captured the 3-day conversation pretty well is Josh Chasin’s: “If advertisers want engagement but digital is selling efficient real time access to cookies — isn’t that a profound disconnect?”
I missed the Sunday night keynote from Google’s Eric Schmidt, but several attendees passed along this quote: “Children these days have two states — sleeping and online.” Hmm, that’s a sad thought.
Coke’s Wendy Clark (about whom my colleague Bob Lisbonne tweeted “Coke isn’t just great at marketing. They’re even impressive at marketing the marketing”) is a marvel. No wonder we collectively drink 1.6 billion servings of Coke every day.
They’re putting up big numbers against their social marketing efforts: Coke has enlisted 23 million Facebook fans (adding another million every 11 days), and those fans are networked to 585 million others — quite a media channel, if it can get those fans to share something nice about Coke. Speaking of media channels, Coke considers Walmart “media” rather than a retailer; with 200 million people walking into their stores each week, it’s got a much bigger audience than American Idol.
Meanwhile, she told marketers to prepare for social-media blowbacks: They will happen, the key is how you respond. Toyota, she said, responded to the recall crisis brilliantly. The only mistake was that they responded too late. She picked this anti-Coke PSA to prove her point:
Yup, bad press happens. Spoofs and attacks will come your way. And with this image giant-ly behind her, she offered up the money quote of event: “The truth is irrelevant. Your truth matters. My truth matters. THE truth is irrelevant.” Boom! Did she really say that?!
And I love this. Coke’s creative brief for the bottle in 1960s, according to Clark: “It should be known in the dark.” (Whether or not that’s THE truth, we’ll never know.)
Hulu’s Jason Kilar invited us to imagine a media landscape in which every ad asks us: You don’t like this ad? Click and we’ll give you a different one. Apparently that’s coming soon — replacing the current landscape where you just skip, block or ignore the ads you don’t like. He attributed this stat to Mary Meeker: For every person using the Internet, advertisers are spending $46 in online ads. Hulu, meanwhile, made $263 million last year on an audience of 30 million — $8.77 per unique. Come on, advertising people, let’s give Hulu its fair share!
He also broke down the money supporting the TV business. Forty-one percent comes from ads, 28% transactions and 31% subscription products. I need to look a little deeper into that one…. First I want to understand what “transactions” are. Per-inquiry TV spots for direct-response marketers? Set-top boxes? I also want know what he’s counting in the “TV business.” Just TV networks, or are the cable operators in there too?
Microsoft’s Rik Van der Kooi says Coke’s 23 million Facebook fans are an opportunity for what his team calls Relationship Impressions. If Dumb Impressions are worth 1x and Targeted Impressions based on cookie data are worth 4x, Relationship Impressions will be worth 10x. Sure, I buy that.
Rubicon Project’s Kara Weber points out, though, that Van der Kooi’s “Relationship Impressions” sound a lot like moments of engagement that Coke calls “Expressions.” You get the sense that Coke marketers have spent a lot more time with real, live human beings than the crew at Microsoft has. And if the goal is connecting with people, that experience (and choice of words) matters.
Cluetrain Manifesto author Doc Searles says “Obsessing about privacy is not productive.” Some new innovation will get us past the current hairball. He points to Foursquare check-ins as a possible new paradigm, replacing data-tracking cookies will opt-in sharing of personal data. (Or perhaps 600 million of us will tell our deepest darkest secrets to Facebook.)
Deep Focus’s Ian Schafer: Automation will further commoditize inventory unless targeting compensates for it. (I think automated targeting might do its own commoditizing, though.)
In unveiling the IAB’s new ad formats, Cadreon’s Quentin George said: “Reach-and-frequency is the penalty for bad advertising.” Aparently we have been very, very bad.
My take on the new formats: They’re bigger. One, the Filmstrip from Microsoft, is a 300×3000-pixel scrolling unit that fits into a 300×600 placement. I’m wondering how often someone makes her way all the way down to pixel 3000. Another, the Sidekick from Unicast, starts as a skyscraper-like unit and then expands into something that fills the gutters to the left and right of the content, and launches a video player on top of the content.
GigaOM’s Om Malik tweets: “I wonder if making bigger ad sizes is really the answer.” (To which I replied: “Totally agree, Om. If the creative stinks, bigger ads just make them stinkier.”) My reaction to new IAB formats is the same as my reaction to TV or print ad formats: When I like the brand and creative, I love the format. If I don’t, the format fails. But when you think about it, that’s real progress among banner ads.