Archive for September, 2008

The controversial case against launching a brand blog

Posted by Mario Sgambelluri on September 29th, 2008 at 12:00 am

Thinking of launching a blog?  Don’t do it, suggests Ad Age’s B.L. Ochman.  Blogging, she warns, takes a lot of time (researching and writing) and money (building it, driving traffic to it). And it’s “not a substitute for advertising.”
Sound defeatist to you?  Well, if the goal of your blog is to tie revenue to each post, she’s got a pretty good point. But is that the only reason to blog?
For me, it keeps me educated.  Contributing to a blog forces me to read deeper into subjects, form more complete thoughts and, in the end, remember more of the stuff I read.
Another reason to blog: it can keep you grounded as a professional.  Check out this post from Jaffe Juice.  In it, Joseph reminds us the authenticity, transparency inherent in blogging can be a “stabilizing force that keeps us honest.”

It's engaging enough to get me watching Sesame Street again

Posted by Sean Cheyney on September 29th, 2008 at 12:00 am

A recent creative showcase on iMediaconnection.com featured the new Sesamestreet.org site. With two small kids at home, I thought "why not check it out?"
The unbelievable amount of content (yes... even the classic stuff) as well as educational games has been enough to engage not only my kids, but also engage me as well. I urge everyone who either has small children or simply feels the need for a nostalgic moment to check it out.
It's also an example to all of us regarding how we can use our in-house assets to create something truly engaging.

On "consumers," "customers" and marketing habits of thought

Posted by Brad Berens on September 29th, 2008 at 12:00 am

Marketers should stop using the word "consumer" and train themselves to use "customer" instead. This goes double for digital marketers.
I issue this challenge to all brand marketing and advertising agency folks reading this post: get a jar, stick it on your desk, and put a dollar into it every time you use the word "consumer." After a month, if you have more than the price of a latte then that means you have work to do. If you have less than the price of a latte, I'll buy it for you next time I see you.
So why should "consumer" be a four letter word?
"Consumer" denotes a one-way relationship. Marketers produce products or messages about products; consumers then passively receive those messages, and then the consumers robotically buy the products because the message has triggered an unconscious behavioral subroutine. This is Skinner-box advertising, and it has never worked in quite so tidy a manner as traditional marketers would have us believe.
I have similar objections to the term "viral" when it comes to marketing. In medicine, a virus invades a victim's body and does things to that body beyond the victim's control, requiring medical intervention and lots... Read more

Mick Jagger was Right

Posted by Dan Ballister on September 29th, 2008 at 12:00 am

You can’t always get what you want.  Hate to break it to you, but it’s true—Mick and the boys were right.

As we continue to grow (and we are—Advertising Week was an unqualified success for us, and I have the hangover to prove it), the online media buying landscape continues to get increasingly more complicated--just like my taxes have over the last 20 years.  Remember the glory days of the 1040EZ?  It took 20 minutes, I did it myself.  Now I’m itemizing, saving receipts, and hiring people to do all this work for me every April—and they have the nerve to charge me for this work.  To be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on anymore with my taxes, but I know they get done every year, and I’m not in jail for tax fraud.  Although they see lots of reports these days, I think a lot of online advertisers feel the same way.
 
It’s damn hard to be a good online media buyer these days.  There are 4 TV networks and 300 cable outlets, yet there are approximately one million ad-supported websites.  In 1998, everybody knew the deal—nobody got fired for buying “the big three”, so that’s exactly what... Read more

WSJ makes (too much) noise with website redesign

Posted by Mario Sgambelluri on September 29th, 2008 at 12:00 am

I like the Wall Street Journal, but I’m not a big fan of their recent website redesign. I’m no design expert, so I couldn’t put my finger on why I wasn’t comfortable with it, but an old colleague sent me a link that helped.
 
In a word, it was too… loud.
 
Here’s the post from designer Andy Rutledge’s blog, Design View. It’s about “quiet” (good) versus “loud” (not-so-good) design.
 
In a nutshell: “Quiet structure is achieved when you de-emphasize the structural elements; the containing boxes, structural lines, bullets, structural color elements, etc… and bring a rhythmical consistency to the layout. The result is that the content becomes more conspicuous and the overall clarity of presentation is greatly enhanced.”
 
Check out Rutledge’s post in one browser tab and the WSJ.com in another. The loud issues are evident pretty quick. For example, the “Market Data Center” in the upper right is out-of-line with the headline box on the left. And the “Video” section on the right (midway down the page) requires your eyes to do a lot of up/down and left/right sweeping instead of just down, left/right to see what’s there.
 
(On a positive note, I’d give the WSJ.com’s redesign good marks for typography. The top feature and news... Read more