RSS Ad invasion

OK, of course I read about this in the past, but it I guess personal experience reinforces memory and thinking much better. I’m talking about advertising in RSS feeds.
Some days ago, I read about Google starting to do that, but I never gave much thought to it.
Now I actually saw the first ad in one of my feeds:

I was quite surprised admittingly, but then I found some information at Network Landscape about this, referencing this site hosted at weblogs, inc.

So Google has a contract with weblogs, inc. How long, until they also do this with my space here – blogger.com? Well, I don’t think they would do that just like that. Or say: I hope not! Sofar, they haven’t imposed much on blogger.com users except for that bar at the top.

I have ambiguous thoughts about this here. Working in Internet Marketing, I welcome this new approach of plastering ads even in tools that were mainly meant to keep users from receiving unsolicited information. Being such a user myself, I notice I don’t like this trend…

Now the funny thing about this is, that any other company could have done this too, but as Google invades also this space with their adsense, makes me think of things I have written about earlier…

Open beer – err source marketing

Link update:
in the by now really interesting discussion with Martin, he pointed me to bowfly and in the comments of Martins post, Markus pointed me to Netzpolitik, which had an article about Vores Oel.
Both breweries, bowfly and Vores Oel, are excellent examples of OSM, as people can create their own beer, and in the case of bowfly, people also receive shares of the company, so they become partners.
And everything happens under the creative commons license: if you change the original recipe, you will have to publish it.
That and the already mentioned tremor.com are real examples of OSM – the other ones I mentioned below, are only “Open Source Advertising”, as Martin clarified correctly…
I just wonder, if there are more examples outside the brewery industry? Nevermind P&G – for them it’s a respectable move nevertheless, but for them it’s easier to test-balloon something like this…

Is Open Source Marketing the answer?

Much has been written lately about open source marketing. (So I thought I add to the rumble.)
The trigger for this movement is simple: Publishing has become extremely easy with the internet and a range of simple tools for easy publishing text, images, videos, etc.
And because they can, they do. Wikis, Blogs, etc. are all a result of this.

People publish thigns about all sorts of stuff they feel related or close to. (And sometimes also about stuff they hate!). So they also publish about brands. While many marketers still feel that they need to guard their brand, many users don’t accept this and declare brands and their representation in advertising to be open source. George Masters is an example. Without having been asked by apple, he produced an iPod ad – only for the love of the product. We also all still remember the viralling VW ad about the car bomber. Another example of people taking advertising into their own hands.

Smart brands recognise this trend and keep on top of this development by proactively asking their target audience to contribute to the advertising efforts. And guess what – these clips/stories people will actually search for, while at the same time they tivo clips from the same brand on TV.

Collaborate Marketing says, that OSM is indeed the answer and has some background on this trend as well as 8 points to take into consideration when engaging in OSM. Mainly, companies will have to shift from brand guardians to brand moderators. (via)

For more info on the open source movement in general and how open source meets marketing I also recommend Web Pro News.

For those who can read German, Connected Marketing also writes about OSM and pointed me to some of the sites in this post.

Some examples:


Converse lets users send in their homemade advertising clips (some background info at Customer Evangelists)


Adverblog pointed me to machsbesser.com (make it better…). The site shows a several minute long clip in which “the boss” is disappointed with the ad that his agency did. (The clip reminds me somewhat of “Truth in Advertising” which was viralling around a couple of months ago.)
Bascially he says, that the agency has no clue whatsoever about what the target audience wants to see. So at the end of the clip, he asks the users to send in homemade ads – because that way, some relevant ads will be produced. Of course this thing is attached to a sweepstake.


Coors: again users can send in their homemade ads.


Mercedes in the US let’s people tell their stories of how they love Mercedes. Great – again – let the audience praise your product – what better way to be convincing?
And finally a campaign without ad clips, but rather images and stories. This is much easier for the average user than producing ad clips.


Red Bull let’s users display their creative work at the art of the can. Some nice and creative stuff on that site!


The E-mediators have a good article about the Project Fox of Volkswagen.


Tremor.com by P&G is a mixture of Open Source and “Buzzmarketing”. Users can sign up to “work” with P&G by receiving products and other stuff before their on the market, testing products and give recommendations, and of course tell their friends about it. Some more information in the FAQs.

E-mediator also mentions Channel9 where

customers elaborate and re-configure narratives about the Microsoft brand. They participate in clarifying the meaning of Microsoft using an interactive mode of communication. On Channel9, the meaning-creation is initiated by a video post and then elaborated in writing by users.

I don’t think open source marketing is the answer for all brands or products (just think about pure B2B brands – what will they do?), neither do I think that this should be the only thing companies do. But taking part in this to at least some degree will certainly make a brand more approachable.

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Updated a bit later: a comment I just made at collaborate marketing:

Two thoughts about open source:
do people actually have the “source code” of the brands they do their little homemade clips for? I don’t think so. So what they do, can be on brand – or may be far off.

Which leads me to my other thought: isn’t it dangerous for the longterm consistency of brands, if everyone can participate in brand image communications (as for converse, mercedes, etc.)? Because in real terms, it’s a small minority that will shift the brand image away from what millions of other (passive but financially equally influential) users might want to have and see in that brand.

I agree, that brands need to rethink how they communicate and interact with their audience, but they can’t just listen and act to the loudest and most active.

Gimmicks like the ones mentioned above are nice and show that the brands want to engage their audience in their communication. But they will still need agencies or other partners to keep overal communications on brand.

A recent debate on the shift from traditional to new media

24/04/05
The Economist also refers to Murdochs statement. And though being part of the traditional media, it objectively admits that the media need to rethink their future profile.

22/04/05:
Marketing Vox has a short article on this matter: the decline of classifieds in the papers will decrease by 20% by 2007.

And Adrants announces a study by Forrester and Headlight Vision, which will be released today. It states that through multitasking of users, the internet doesn’t lead to a decrease in consumption of other media. But as adrants says correctly: the attention of the user will be divided and the impact of say, advertising will go down nevertheless.

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Checking my feeds and a few (online) newspapers lately, I noticed that there are quite a few articles about the fall of traditional media, especially the paper newspapers.

It’s a long post, but a (hopefully) good summary of latest writings on this matter.

The Long Tail started me off, with a short summary on negative media trends offline (TV, newspapers, Music, Radio, Magazines and Books – and positive media trends (movies: theatres and DVDs, and of course my favourite: the web).
(via )

The longtail links to an article by Editor&Publisher, which summarises slow or decreasing ad spent. Even though some companies might face increases, the trend is negative, only online contributes in some cases and should have an overall double digit growth, but it still makes only 3-5% of the revenues.

The longtail also linked to clickz, with a very enthusiastic forecast, which predicts a 30% growth this year, however online advertising will still only be 5.3% of all ad spending. “The Web sites of traditional media companies will be big beneficiaries of this growth,” Myers said in that article. (He also goes on about which elements of online marketing will have most growth potential.

The AdAge.com Email Newsletter had this headline: “IS THE AD INDUSTRY HEADED FOR CHAOS?” It teases a long article in the print edition that stats that the ad industry is moving towards choas. OK, no panic. But apparently it’s about the changes to mass advertising. Traditional media will be less interesting for marketers, but the new media aren’t ready yet to carry the load of marketers spending, due to lack of infrastructur or scale. Unfortunately, I can’t get this paper here in Germany…

PR Opinions is tired of “the new sweeping away the old” and points to this article, which discusses podcasting (vs radio) and video wars (e.g. google’s new tool), and states that the “big media” are indeed necessary, because bloggers

get into arguments with each other and spend a few weeks in personal blog battles. They get tired of not making any money at their altruistic pursuits. They get fed up with all the constant negative feedback (which we sometimes refer to as the “peer-review” system intended to keep blogs honest) and they quit.

But this is not the point. And I don’t know why PR Opinions linked to this (even though it’s a nice read), but it’s about digital vs paper – not who does it and how they do it. And PR Opinions even says it:

But they are going to have to examine their business and start to think about how they can take advantage of the potential of the Internet – not the threats. They have a fantasic opportunity to merge the online and offline worlds.

But they also link to this article, in which it says the following:

Murdoch stressed that young people are showing they do not want to read print papers in the same way their parents do and are not likely to change.
He said young people “still want news and we are uniquely positioned to deliver that news. We have unique content to differentiate ourselves. The challenge, however, is to deliver that news in the way consumers want to receive it.”
“the threat of losing print advertising dollars to Internet advertising is very real; in fact it is already happening.”

ADJAB says, that in future, the papers will have to charge you next to nothing for classified ads, so that you still advertise in the papers. And it pointed to Newspaper&Technology who deepen in on this. But hey. Classifieds? Searching for an appartment, a car or a new stereo? Hello? This is exactly what the internet is good for: Searching.
Classified ads make made up a lot of revenue for the papers, but sorry for the darwinism: the papers will never re-gain this part of the revenue. And two thirds or more are coming from ad revenue – classifieds and big ads.

The traditional media, especially print, need to find an added value. The German site Spiegel.de (which does very well with its online version of it’s weekly publication) mentions how the papers try different formats (so you can read them properly in the subway), or even publishers who will use their distribution network to compete against the post service.

The editors of the offline press do not need to worry, as long as they start investing more in their online presence.
And Marketers – well, just the same…

Shift from offline to online will not be extremely dramatic in the next few years, as there are still enough people who fancy ink on their fingers and paper-cut injuries.
But the shift is becoming extremely visible, and it will cause the first casualties amongst the traditional press soon.

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PS: “Just came in” aka just found it: a positive Article from Editor&Publisher which shows that there can be good money earned through online ads for online publications.

Powershift from online ad agencies to media sites and media agencies

Power these days is more than ever a matter of information. Whoever controlls the information has the best access to power. Might not use it effectively, but that’s a matter of strategy. First comes access to information and thus (theoretical) power.

Being an employee of a creative online advertising agency, I noticed that the most crucial information – actual campaign results and performance of individual creatives – isn’t always fed back to us.

It often stays with the media agencies.

The tracking is done through syndications like Doubleclick, who provide the media agencies with data. Through these systems, data can also be tracked on campaign sites, hence providing data for the complete path from the banner to the filled out contact form – complete measurement of ad effectiveness, all through one system.

The media agencies in turn start using this data to optimise creatives – and thus invade “our territory” of creative execution. Many media agencies already offer complete package deals to companies: media placements, creatives development and optimisation.

Advertisers will soon (if not already) ask themselves: why do I pay that much money to the creative agency, when I get good results from the media company anyway.
And while this might be a single-minded view, and it might not always produce the best creative, this could turn into a broader trend:
- first: wait till media agencies start employing (good) creative people
- and second: these days, results count, not beauty.

I see a serious threat here for the “traditional” online creative agency. It (most often) has no access to the information on how it’s output is performing, and hence no way of improving. Of course, this is not always the case, as good relationships between media agency, client and creative agency should result in a good cooperation regarding campaign optimisation.
But in reality, creative agencies are on the receiving end of information.

Compare that to traditional advertising. TV and Newspapers have no way whatseover to measure success on specific ads (except focus group research, which still tends to be done by ad agencies).

Or DM: success measurement is usually done by agency and client, with no intermediate. And if there are intermediates, they tend to be fullfilment agencies, who are not part of any other step in the lead generation process, so they have no say in the creative process.

Online Media agencies are an integral part of the process, as they book the placements in advance, talk to the client about possible utilisation of the booked space and then wait for the creative agency to fill the booked placement. Or, maybe they don’t wait, but do it themselves.

As I said, I have encountered quite a few of these “placement&creative” package deals lately, and it makes me think…