Archive for Tom Hespos

Why We're No Longer Working With Ad Networks

Posted by Tom Hespos on November 5th, 2013 at 7:40 am

This morning, my agency announced that it would no longer consider ad networks for client business.  That’s not a stance I’ve seen many agencies take, so I thought I would take a few minutes to discuss our decision, why we made it, and what it means to anyone wanting to work with us to design ad programs.
First off, it’s very important that people understand what we’re actually doing.  There are numerous digital ad networks that want to fulfill our client ad buys with ad inventory sourced from the ad exchanges.  Most of the time, they want to do that without giving us the utmost visibility into the quality of the ads, how they’re targeted and how much they cost.
Naturally, this is not okay.
As an agency, we went to great pains to ensure that our trading desk solution gave us full visibility into the media, data and technology cost of the ad impressions that make up our programmatic campaigns.  Since the dawn of the programmatic boom, we’ve had to evaluate a number of potential media partners that are almost identical in their approach to developing their ad offering:

They source their inventory from the ad exchanges.
They want to handle the buying... Read more

Is social news the future of newsgathering?

Posted by Tom Hespos on June 5th, 2013 at 7:31 am

By now, you’ve probably heard that Turkish protestors placed a full-page ad in The New York Times.  Convinced that their struggle wasn’t getting enough play in the mainstream media, three protestors took to social news sites and IndieGoGo (the same crowdfunding platform that brought you such hits as Let’s Build a Tesla Museum and Let’s Bring Star Trek-Style Tricorders to Market) and raised well more than the $50K they needed to place the ad.
When I say “well more than” I mean over $90,000 as of this morning.  There’s a thread on reddit dedicated to figuring out what to do with the rest of the money.
For the propellerhead data geeks in the crowd, here are the particulars as of this writing: $92,840 from 2,361 donors in around four days.  That’s an average donation size of a little less than 40 bucks.  Not bad numbers.
But we’re not here to talk about the numbers.  Nor the politics.
Step back for a second and take a look at the big picture, because this is one of those profound generational things that should give you pause if you’re in the media business.  The people who get their news in a crowdsourced fashion were convinced that people... Read more

Questioning Questions In Social

Posted by Tom Hespos on March 14th, 2013 at 7:36 am

When did social become a series of questions that brands don’t want the answers to?
I get it.  Asking people questions gets them to respond.  On average, asking a question on Facebook prompts more interaction than just making a simple statement.
Years ago, when my friend Tom Troja and I were visiting with brands to talk to them about Conversational Marketing, Tom had a great way of articulating what consumers found compelling about interacting with brands online.  We were talking to brands that wanted to look at social as just another push vehicle, which inevitably leads to a path where the brand pushes out a bunch of commercials and nobody listens to or engages with them.  In convincing brands that there was merit in a two-way medium, Tom used to say that people wanted to “talk about themselves in relation to the brand.”  We would suggest that instead of making statements, brands could ask questions and get people talking.
We were merely suggesting a way to start the conversation, though.  It was up to brands to actually do something with the responses to any questions they asked.  In one campaign, we would cull some of the best responses and use them as brand... Read more

Three Reasons Why Your Ad Campaign Can't Easily Pivot from Awareness to DR

Posted by Tom Hespos on February 27th, 2013 at 11:42 am

I get strange looks when I tell advertisers that switching from an awareness objective to a direct response objective requires a complete replanning of a digital campaign.  While many advertisers understand why this is, there are many more who don’t.
Changes in objectives can happen for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes, advertisers focus on metrics that aren’t compatible with the campaign objective, simply because response metrics are easily obtained.  In other cases, marketing objectives might shift and advertisers erroneously believe they can simply swap creative to efficiently garner clicks.  Whatever the case, there are three solid reasons why, when objectives are moved from DR to awareness (or vice versa), the agency needs to replan and re-quote fees.
Cost Basis
Awareness campaigns are characterized by running in environments that are high-profile or selected due to appropriate context.  In other words, many of the placements will command a premium.  In such cases, CPM is the dominant pricing model.  While other pricing models can play a role on an awareness campaign, generally your first digital ad dollars are going to go toward placements that are priced on a CPM basis.
DR campaigns tend to use a combination of pricing models.  Depending on the advertiser, there may be... Read more

Can Facebook Really Triple Its Ad Revenue by Embracing Retargeting?

Posted by Tom Hespos on September 28th, 2012 at 6:32 am

Um, no.  It can’t.
In a tragic example of what happens when one looks at ad models from 50,000 feet without zooming in for a closer look, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson postulated that Facebook could sell most of its ad inventory via retargeting and increase ad rates by “a couple multiples.”
Here’s how he gets there.
Ad inventory on Facebook sells for around 3X the rate when it’s sold as retargeting inventory.  Therefore, if Facebook stopped selling ad inventory “the old way” – targeted by profile data – and started selling retargeted inventory, the ad revenue will start gushing from the faucets and Carlson will get to gloat about Facebook’s having chased the wrong business for years.
If only it were that simple.
There are two huge problems with this.
One is that it assumes advertisers are willing to scale their retargeting campaigns up to meet the new supply Facebook would bring to the market.  They’re not.
Retargeting is a tactical option for most digital media plans.  The site retargeting that Carlson describes in his article represents a tactical subset of a larger retargeting strategy, which is itself a subset of behavioral targeting.  While it’s true that many advertisers would buy more site retargeting inventory if they... Read more