Monday, December 03, 2007

London startupweekend creates

This weekend, I met up with a load of really interesting people from bloggers through to techies and marketing folk to launch a new business called This was a startupweekend event of which more later. is a new ethically focused consumer reviews website for the UK market. We’re trying to combine the trend for User Generated Content with the rise in consumer consciousness that has started to grow in recent times.

As the blurb says:
“At we don't pretend to be perfect – we occasionally leave lights on when we don't need to, buy fruit out of season, and nudge the thermostat up for a 'duvet day'. But we do try to be a little bit better wherever we can.“ was born out of 1 weekends work by a team who hadn’t met until about 7pm on Friday night. The whole idea was that a load of diverse people would get together an launch a new business in under 51 hours with no prior plans or collaboration. It’s a really cool idea and I urge anyone out there to go along and take part in future events (see for details of future events).

Did we succeed? The next few weeks will establish whether the business itself is viable and whether it will survive. However the principle has been proved – bring some smart people together then led the event take off an anything is possible.

All the best to those that took part and watch this space for future developments!

Monday, November 12, 2007

oh iPe!

iPhone UK launch wasn’t the marketing triumph many expected. Further thoughts to come but let me point you to a few interesting articles:

From personal experience, there's certainly no supply side issues with plenty of stock available but is this actually a good thing for leading edge technology? Is categorising the iPhone as "leading edge" even appropriate?

For all the bad press (and there has been plenty), I'd trade in my p990 in a heartbeat for one if it was financially viable.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Update on iPE - phone not yet on sale

OK – my mistake – the shops don’t open until 6pm for iPhone purchases. Makes me look like an idiot!

iPE (hype) in London

iPhone arrives in the UK today and the question is what happened to the mass hysteria?

I took the attached grainy photo (on my useless SonyEricsson P990i) as I walked past. Given the coverage of the original launch in the US and the Apple PR machine getting a head start, I expected a little bit more interest that this. It’s left me thinking that Apple got it a little wrong with the marketing of this baby. Where was the crowd!!!

I’m really busy today with some urgent work but look out for my post on what Apple could learn from Nintendo about launching better products into the tech market.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What I forgot about Google's targeted media

I listed 9 interested parties who will stand to win or loose if Google controls media placement across more than just the internet. However I forgot the general public – you and I in our real lives.Will we benefit from more targeted advertising?

The answer to this question depends on your viewpoint on the benefits of advertising I guess. I used to take a snotty attitude to advertising wondering what social benefits advertising offers. Now that I’m a little older and wiser, I understand that it’s advertising that pays for interesting content, it’s advertising (marketing) that drives innovation and it’s advertising that let’s me know that there are alternative opportunities out there. Whether the adverts be for jobx, bank accounts or cars, ultimately we all benefit – even if we don’t appreciate it. On the assumption that Google will improve the relevant of adverts I see, I can only suggest that it’s going to be a good thing if they take over more and more media placement.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Who wins when Google sells airtime?

In case you’ve missed it, Google have officially announced a tie up with Nielsen to provide demographic ratings data for their new TV advertising service (similar to Google Adwords) - This deal will enable Google to collect immediate demographic data from Nielsen to estimate who was watching the commercials that they had placed on advertisers behalf. The most interesting thing about this for me is the immediate benefit for advertisers in being able to effectively buy media space more efficiently and effectively.

Although Google are starting small (limited release for the US market only), it’s only a matter of time before they branch out into other geographies and media channels. They already offer a similar limited service for Print and Radio advertising in the US and don’t expect to see Cinema, Outdoor and other channels too far behind. The cat is already out of the bad and it’s not looking good for some.

So who wins from this deal?

  1. Large Advertisers – Maybe not – although the beta testers for such a service, I doubt that they will be getting as great a discount on media buying once small and mid size advertisers find it easier to compete with them for airtime. Under the current system, large advertisers are effectively offered preferential treatment by media agencies and should (although do not always) pay lower rates for media brought
  2. Small and Mid Sized Advertisers – With Adwords, any business could dabble in advertising at almost no incremental cost. Whilst TV advertising is more expensive in creative terms (and expect to see many more home movie style commercials) small and mid-sized businesses will now be able to dabble in a medium with its notorious entry costs slashed. That’s got to be good news for them.
  3. Media Agencies – Unlikely to be good news. Arguably Adwords has made online agencies a ton of money in the past five or so years. However my feeling is that Google have been taking a long term view of this and subsidising this market to build acceptance to advertisers of the medium. Google are continuously improving their campaign management tools for aAdwords and at some point, the incremental benefit of using an online agency to manage this portion of spend will diminish. Furthermore, we can fully expect Google Analytics to get a major update for their premium customers who advertise across channels. Advertisers and agencies alike will have unprecedented access to data about their commercials and the ability to purchase spot by spot against testable targets. In other words, Google permit advertisers to sidestep agencies if they choose to do so. Expect to see many media buyers go client side once they’ve mastered the Google system!
  4. Creative Agencies – A likely win – there’s going to be more work available for those that can turn around work quickly and effectively. They can even start in-market creative testing very early on.
  5. Nielsen – On the face of it, Nielsen have signed a great deal. They’ve associated themselves with a top organisation and positioned themselves as the premier supplier of demographic data on the US TV audience. In reality they had no choice but to do this deal if Google came their way. However in the long term, I can see other ways appearing of getting the same data at far lower cost (mobile phones with RFID chips anyone) so the incremental benefit to Nielsen is likely to reduce over time. Maybe they can sell themselves to Google...
  6. Consultancies – consultants (independent up to the big boys) have an opportunity to draw on the superior analytical skills they possess “en mass” vs. media agencies. When media buying comes down to the numbers, the agencies only have a handful of specialist analysts who can analyse data effectively. Many consultants feel more comfortable with the numbers and I can see them licking their lips at “outsourcing” another section of their clients businesses.
  7. Media Auditors – a big loss. No need for auditing if there’s no debate over the price you pay.
  8. Google – the big winner. Online advertising is still a fraction of the size of the TV and Print channels and Google’s technology addresses the key weaknesses in the media buying systems of these industries. Google have effectively decided gone from having a massive share of a mid-sized market to a smaller one in a far bigger ocean. Assuming that they can maintain service levels, continue to offer low entry costs, build the “test and learn” ability that online provides into other media channels, it’s inconceivable that they will lose out isn’t it?
  9. Microsoft – the potential fly in the ointment for Google? Do they have deep enough pockets to offer an alternative quickly? Undoubtedly. However they don’t have the same track record in developing online advertising so it’s going to be a big challenge.

The Caveat - There is of course one big assumption with all of the above. There’s not going to be a feedback channel as there is with online advertising. How can you measure effectiveness when all you know is who saw the adverts? The answer is that Google is going to have to sign up retail partners as data providers in order to create the perfect “mash up” across channels. Once Walmart, Best Buy or even organisations such as Visa on board, the proposition will look unbeatable.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Can Marketing Analysis help the Planet?

Today is "Blog action day" - a day when thousands of bloggers are going to cover one topic from a variety of viewpoints. So what has this got to do with marketing analytics? Marketing is often seen as the big bad wolf by many so called "tree huggers". We don't care that our junk mail gets thrown into waste fill, we "blight" the streets with billboards for stuff people don't need and we help damage the third world.

Basically marketing (and especially advertising) has a bad name when it comes to the environment...but it's time to stop and put this right isn't it? Whether or not you believe in "global warming" (and for the record I do), it is clear for all to see that we're living in an age when it's a key theme for a massive portion of the Western population and an increasing part elsewhere.

How marketers tackle this theme is crucial and I believe that one thing that people have really started to dislike is waste and inefficiency. Cutting these out is a start but in order to make marketing that works, we need to talk to people on a fair level. This means communicating as equals - not talking down to people. (side note - really interesting study on why humans are the only animals who have a concept of "fairness to be found here ->

This is actually a remarkably difficult thing for many businesses to get - or at least that's what it seems. How often do you see an ad which you know is stretching the truth to its limits. All those adverts for face creams which will "roll back the years", beer that makes you a more fun person, banks who are your best friend for live and animals playing drums!

Seriously, waste and getting the messages wrong are obviously bad. Getting the messages right and catching the mood is valuable. Environmental issues are something that many in the west now feel strongly about. If you can honestly incorporate these issues into your proposition (not just advertising material but what you actually do as an organisation) then aren't you more likely to catch the mood of a broad part of the public? Just don't go making false or exaggerated claims....

The marketing industry prides itself on taking a lead in consumer trends but for my part, I don't think it's done what it can as yet in this area. For many, the realisation that green issues are not just morally important but financially also appears to be taking some time to sink in.
For more on marketing and environmental issues, see an article by Nigel Hollis at Milward Brown ->
P.S. All ad revenues from this site today go to an environmental charity. Since a typical days ad revenues are normally pennies (I have canny readers who can't be influenced you see), you may wish to reconsider you usual browsing behaviour.

Analysts are looking even more valuable

Just seen this titbit over on Mediapost ->

"Creative comes out on top with analytics close behind when the room was asked In the future, which agency will be worth most to marketing?
  1. Creative agency - 33%
  2. Marketing analytics consultant - 30%
  3. Media agency - 20%
  4. Direct/CRM agency - 17%

I'm not sure of the reason for the question, the science or even the audience but it's an interesting bit of thinking. Where does this put the creative analyst? Maybe the guys who have been valuing Mobile media, Enron stock and Facebook bids are more valuable that we thought.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Who should run marketing analytics

Last week, I attended a conference call / webcast called "Philip Kotler on Turning Marketing Analytics into Strategic Value" during which I asked Prof Kotler "How do you balance internal vs. external analytical providers?”.

The reason that I asked this question was both one of personal interest and professional. My belief is that the importance of strong data analysis skills will increase as data proliferation and skills resident within an organisation increase. Put simply, grad schools and the like are churning out many more grads who get analytics. In the past, consultancies managed to capture the analytical grads because their clients didn't really have a full time requirement for these skill sets. However my reading of the situation is that this is changing as organisations build better analytics into their business model (see Amazon etc).

Kotler appeared to agree with this view which was a relief for me. However as always there's a but and it's this. Whilst a great deal of analytics will move in-house, there will always been the need for think tanks and consultants to invent new and better methodologies.

(p.s. for regular readers, let me apologise for the gap between this post and my last one - the good news is that my wife just had our second child. The bad news is that my time is vanishing!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What's your point of reference?

Whenever you analyse results from a marketing campaign, you need to frame them in relative terms - that's the great thing about ROI metrics - they are relative - i.e. what did you get out vs. what you put in.

Very often, analysts make simple mistakes in their calculations and miss simple errors. Because they forget to use a term of reference before they report, they send our garbage.

I learnt this lesson early on when my then boss, Jeffrey Merrihue ( suggested some numbers i'd given him were likely to be b****ks. He took out a ruler and showed me just how wrong my pages of spreadsheet calculation must have been. Because i'd been up for 36 hrs straight (it was a bad week in Madrid) and had become lost in the detail, i'd lost my point of reference.

The biggest mistake analysts can make is not seeing the woods for the trees - is the result sensible and understandable? If not, take a step back and reframe the question. If you're not sure, check your steps!

One more thing - don't always trust your calculator. Excel 97 had issues running regression calculations using the analysis toolpack and now it appears Excel 2007 can't do a simple multiplication - try asking it to calculate 850*77.1. The answer shouldn't be 100000 should it?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Will Procurement eat marketing's lunch?

On Tuesday this week, I was lucky enough to briefly present at this weeks Marketing and Purchasing Conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Procurement (CIPS). I was invited to speak by Prof Robert Shaw from Cass Business School and the subject was "how we measure marketing effectiveness".

What was interesting was that the "we" in the question involved the procurement teams as well as the marketing and agency teams. For many larger organisations, this makes tremendous sense. What was especially interesting for me was to see that so many procurement professionals were clearly being challenged to assess the question of "what was returned" as opposed to just "what was spent" and it seemed like well established practice for many.
Of course, the reaction wasn't homogeneous and the audience appeared to divide into two groups. The first group knew that were only interested in focusing on cost control - even if they acknowledged that this was only 1/2 the story. The second group were open to looking at accountability but appeared to lack the tools or training to do so (bingo). What was clear was that the procurement function had lot's of tools and discipline to bring to the marketing function and this left many wondering whether the future of internal marketing teams was as a smaller coordinator of effort rather than as the owner of all marketing services for an organisation.
Another interesting discussion was the perennial one about over reliance on historic marketing assessment at the expense of creativity over future campaigns - clearly the agencies don't want to loose their creative authority. However the value of measurement may often be about measuring just how bad things are. There's no need to throw ones self over a cliff to prove gravity and the same is true in marketing. You don't have to spend fortunes to work out whether a message is having an impact.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Online Banner Blindness

Online marketing presents marketers with a real wealth of data and info about what performs and what doesn't. A vast industry has grown up around analysis of online data - this industry is disproportionate in size compared to the amount spent in the channel but the reason is the ability of marketing organisations to "flex" campaigns in real time - hence the need for more analysis.

Jakob Nielsen is considered by many to be a guru when it comes to analysing web sites and their usability and in a recent study, his company turned their attention to online banner ads to try and define the key characteristics of a successful campaign. His conclusions?

"Users rarely look at display advertisements on websites. Of the four design elements that do attract a few ad fixations, one is unethical and reduces the value of advertising networks."

The unethical element that works is making your ad look like native content - i.e. trying to "con" the user into believing the ad is really native content. Sounds a bit like PR doesn't it....

If you can artificially persuade users to click your ads (that seems to be the metric people look at a lot) then the metric itself becomes a waste of time. What does click through mean when you're getting bad clicks. Better to stick with real "end of line metrics" at the end of the day.

I recommend a quick read of his article that can be found here.

So my conclusion - online ads are valuable when actioned. Advertisers can use tricks (some dirty) to persuade people to click on the ads but it's not always going to work out in the long run. Therefore, be cautious when looking at metrics such as click through rates - they can be artificially inflated using some clever formatting and a picture of a naked woman.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cadbury's Update - it's now viral

It was obviously going to happen - the Cadbury's ad has gone viral and already the imitations / mashups are coming thick and fast.

Cadbury's vs. Total Eclipse of the Heart

Cadbury's vs. A skillz

As of 9am this morning, I calculate that 162,794 people had watched these ads on youtube. I'll keep an eye on that number over the coming days. Let's see where this goes.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Words that need to be banned from marketing research - Optimisation

Optimisation - I hate the word optimisation (or optimization depending on which side of the pond you are on) because it implies some degree of certainty in outcome. When dealing in statistics, it's a brave person who puts their neck on the line and says they know for certain the outcome of an event.

In marketing analytics, many people talk about "optimising" the mix, optimising price points, optimising mailing lists. In reality, they mean "probably improving" but it's not such a sexy term is it.

I've used the term myself and will continue to do so on occasion (because I'm weak no doubt) but we must be able to find another way to explain that there is little certainty in analytics.
Mu suggestion - "Improvement" or "Best Suggestion" both sound a bit wet. Anybody got any ideas on terms I can use?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Cadbury's "'Glass & A Half Full" Campaign

Cadbury’s are desperately in need of some decent marketing. As has been pointed out elsewhere ( their recent track record in marketing isn’t the most successful and it appears to have been that way for a little while now.

On Friday, they launched a new campaign and this time I’m wondering if they’ve gone nuts or they are onto something truly great.

This is what Cadbury’s say about the campaign – “Drumming gorillas, Phil Collins and Glass And A Half Full Productions? Well it just seemed like the right thing to do. There's no clever science behind it - it's just an effort to make you smile, in exactly the same way Cadbury Dairy Milk does. And that's what we aim to continue to do; simply make you smile. So if a drumming gorilla's not enough, wait until you see what else we have up our sleeves. Sign up if you're curious...”

OK – I’m curious to know where this is all going. According to Creative Review ( the film comes from Juan Cabral, the director of the Sony “Balls” commercial. It appears that there is more and Comparing this commercial to their previous effort is like comparing a 20 yr old single malt with generic 89p lager – the generic lager is pap consumed simply because it’s there whilst the whisky isn’t to everyone’s taste but will resonate with those who appreciate these things. The big question of course is whether this “Glass and a Half” message will resonate.

On the strength of what I’ve seen so far, I’m a sceptic but impressed that they are trying something different. Clearly their current marketing strategy hasn’t been working but whether this campaign marks a real turnaround is anyone’s guess. Maybe this is a bit like the Vodafone “April showers” campaign that I highlighted previously (see – wonderful creative idea waiting for someone to finance it. Let’s wait and see – I’d love to be proved wrong. I’ll let you know what I get via e-mail having signed up.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Youtube and their "wraparound" adverts

There is an amazing amount of time and money being invested in User Generated Content (UGC) by both tech companies such as Google and advertisers and yet the value of this content is still up for debate. Both Google and News International clearly believe that UCG is the future and all those friends of mine out there on Facebook clearly agree (sorry but I just don’t get it as yet). However to justify the values placed on these businesses, advertising and PR on these sites is going to have to be worth its weight in gold. I’m just not convinced it is – at least not yet.

Google has apparently decided that they need to put adbreaks around video clips (see to start clawing back some of the $1.65bn they spent on buying YouTube. My concern for them is that will users of youtube simply avoid this ads (as users of PVRs do – see some research from IBM on this here) or even more worrying, they go elsewhere with their 30 second MMS clips? The price that Google paid for YouTube equates to something like $29 for each unique user per month at current rates ($1.6bn / 55m). Assuming payback over five years, discount rates and strong growth in unique users – say 25% - I think they need to get each user to click through on about 4 ads a month to break even. If growth stalls then the price Google paid for YouTube will look painfully high. However since they paid in stock and not cash, maybe things aren’t that bad.

Anyway, where does that leave the advertisers themselves. Well UGC has some well documented issues and advertisers need to be careful about how they embrace it. There are some great examples out there of advertisers turning UGC to their advantage (e.g. Coke eventually) whilst some big brands have really struggled. UGC enables brands to join in converstaions with customers but ultimately the power stays with the consumer and not the brand. Advertisers and site owners need to remember this. Look at how quickly the “community” abandoned MySpace. Is there any reason why something else won’t come along and replace the current raft of network sites? Wasn’t Netscape replaced quite quickly. Didn’t Lycos and Yahoo look like the early winners of the Internet search engine crown.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Over the past three or four years, Honda must rank as one of the most improved and best run brands here in the UK. The old image of a Honda driver as a staid older person has not totally disappeared but has been adapted to a message of reasoned excellence that complements the historical positioning of reliability.

For many, the commercial that helped start their reassessment of the Honda brand was the infamous multi award winning "Cog".

"Cog" is a fantastic piece of communication and rightly won a whole heap of awards. It plays on the sensible aspect of the purchase but by adding the funky music (try thinking of this commercial running with a Vivaldi soundtrack to see the difference) they managed to broaden the appeal for a wider audience.

After "Cog" came a few other similar messages that were then followed up by "The Impossible Dream" commercial that focused on Honda as an all encompassing brand rather than just being a car company.

In addition to these great commercials were the famous "Choir" and "Hate something, change something" commercials. From a media planning point of view, the Honda commercials were excellent because they focused on finding epic spots in big events where these commercials would stand out. Whereas everyone else was running 30 second traditional spots across multiple networks, Honda focused on delivering 120 second ad break ownership in key spots. Then the ads went viral and Honda got their value for money. These campaigns were great integrated works - people could access extra content via CDs and I'd love to know how many new contacts Honda made.

So having established a fantastic track record in terms of creativity and re branding, Honda launched a campaign this year called "Hondamentalism" focusing on a new idea - Honda as a brand representing fundamental engineering excellence.

This campaign apparently launched earlier in the year and whilst the TV commercial passed me by, the associated online campaign really caught my attention (see This site represents a lovely piece of creative online communication and will no doubt win some awards. However there is a bigger question here. Do Honda believe that they have done enough to reestablish their brand in order to rely on online and direct mail for the majority of their communications budgets?

My belief is that Honda are now spending far less on ATL activities and have shifted money to these below the line activities to build on the engagement that they hope to have generated with the brand. The logic behind this appears sound but what is yet to be seen is whether small levels of mass communication can keep the customer pipeline full.

To round off, many people argue that one sign of truly great communication comes when other brands copy your style - i.e. the parody. Would any brand have tried to copy a Honda commercial back in the mid 1990's? Oh - wait. Both Honda and 118118 (the Number) had Naked as their strategic media agency at the you think this was also a stunt?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Plug - try Zumyn

Everyone with a digital camera is probably sitting on a database of a thousands of different photos. The way that we take photos has changed beyond all recognition and some very clever people like Flickr have figured out that the way people "consume" images has changed.

My friend Ian is one of these clever people. He's decided that those thousands of photos we all have might just come in handy if we wanted to create a montage of images. You can't just put a few thousand images on a wall but you can if you put them all together in one shap shot.

Ian has launched a business called Zumyn - he has a cunning program that will take all those images from you and arrange them all so that they form one bigger image - a mosaic. The really clever bit (which used genetic algorithms) is to make sure that there are no repeated images.

The address is

I've done one of me with baby Lewis in Tokyo and despite my obvious flaws, it's looking great!

I believe that you can import photos from flickr and an importer for Facebook is coming soon. That way you will be able to import all the photos of your friends if you want or create a unique image from a special event.

Do please pass this on to anyone who might be interested and get involved!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

10 ways to get more from Marketing Mix Analysis

I'm currently working on a white paper about Marketing Mix Analysis and how the industry needs to adapt to meet new client needs. As part of this paper, I've created some "best practice" advice points that I wanted to share and get some feedback on. Please feed back any comments.

10 Ways to get more from Marketing Mix Analysis:

  1. Be realistic about what the analysis can help you achieve – drop words like optimisation and replace with words such as “improvement”. Bravado is a great quality when used correctly but its place in analytics is questionable. Realistically, systematic measurement and improvement programmes in marketing can improve ROI by an average of 10%-15%. However it is not going to happen every time and when it does, it is unlikely to be effort free.

  2. Focus on quality not quantity of results– many mix projects suffer from over engineering – both in terms of data used for analysis and detail in results. The old adage of Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) applies as much for mix modelling as it does in any other area. Start with analysing the key metrics that determine business success before moving further down the value chain. Think of “money at risk” – that should clearly determine the key issues to be analysed. Simply adding dimensions of complexity may bring a new depth to the problems that can be solved but is that really where the real value is going to be derived from?

  3. Beware of averages – average measures are a big danger in marketing for two reasons. Firstly, given that there is no such thing as an “average” customer, it is going to be very difficult to create a campaign that will satisfy them. Secondly, average performance may be misleading – it is the marginal returns that are meaningful – i.e. the return from the last unit invested. In an industry that rightfully eulogises the term “diminishing returns”, there is a woeful level of understanding about “marginal” performance.

  4. Create genuinely meaningful reports – if an organisation is to make changes in marketing strategy then it needs to be clear to all those who are touched by this as to why changes are taking place. Clear and concise reports can help organisations share knowledge efficiently – long winded one hundred page presentations are not the best method to communicate change.

  5. Use simple language where possible – enough said. The people who need to respond to marketing analytics tend not to be the most mathematical proportion of the population. Comparing results in statistical terms is easy for analysts but not for laymen. However the wider marketing community have a valuable part to play in the interpretation itself and needs to be included in discussions.

  6. Standardise results– Not all models are built equal. Ask whether you can compare the range of potential models being presented to you on the same basis. If you can’t, how can you benchmark and improve performance. Standardised reporting may be inflexible but it is repeatable and enables quick comparisons between results. Standardised reporting enables one of the favourite techniques of modern managers - benchmarking. Marketing teams often hate it but it is valuable.

  7. Focus on the actionable areas of the business – Report writers love to provide elaborate explanations for esoteric findings from their models but often they end up reporting on non marketing issues to marketing teams. Whilst some if this information may be useful, teams are often time pressed and it is marketing issues they need to focus on.

  8. Systemise the analysis process– one-off reports may be useful to organisations seeking an occasional review of their activities but only continuous monitoring will lead to real improvements in performance. By systemising the reporting of marketing analytics, real processes can be adopted for test and learn marketing. The CMO council have shown that organisations that have managed to adopt these processes perform better and it can be no coincidence.

  9. Develop test & learn processes – many successful marketing organisations have figured out ways to experiment with marketing in order to prove to themselves what is working. In almost all these cases, the organisations in question are able to action findings quickly once they have been identified. If your marketing organisation makes changes to their plans once a year as part of an annual planning cycle then you are missing an enormous opportunity to improve marketing performance.

  10. Combine it with other analysis - Marketing Mix Analysis can be a blunt tool - it tends to give high level results. It addresses some important business questions but isn't a panacea. Never overlook other research techniques.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is user generated content overvalued?

The rise of websites such as youtube, Facebook, Flickr and MySpace has led to a raft of discussions in media land about how to best harness this phenomenon from an advertising perspective. Clearly the explosion in the number of people using such online sites has exceeded anything one could have imagined just five years ago.

Back then, we were all getting over the disappointment of WAP and other first generation web technologies - online marketing was in its infancy. Back then it was all banner ads and pop-ups until we all figured out that a) people were downloading lots and lots of ad blocker programs and b) the ads themselves were of negligible impact because the reach of the medium was quite poor. Five years on and the online digital experiment has changed quite a bit. Ad targeting has improved immeasurably and the range of measures for online campaigns is now so vast, many struggle to keep up with the latest trends.

In recent years, online advertisers have been able to rely on new targeting technologies (mainly cookie and / or content based) to help promote their ads across vast online networks. Google changed the game with their adwords program and now almost every business will be using some sort of online advertising and communication to promote their wares. These vast online advertising networks stretch far and wide across the web and one place they specialise in targeting are the User Generated Content (UGC) sites, forums, bulletin boards and chat rooms right around the world.

UCG attracts a multitude of users from around the world but very little advertising on these sites is “placed”. Most is brought as part of a package and the content against which you advertise is largely up to the site as opposed to the buyer. Of course the danger with throwing your online advertising out there without any say as to where it is being placed is now blindingly obvious yet until last week many UK brands didn’t understand this.

Last week, big brands such as Vodafone, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Halifax, the AA, First Direct and even the UK Government were forced to pull advertising on Facebook after their ads were seen running against sites for the British National Party (a racist right wing organisation). Whilst Facebook are now offering UK advertisers an opt-out option for sites such as these (to be rolled out across other markets later on), this is the obvious risk that advertisers are taking when they have no clue on the type of content their ads will run next to. This incident in unlikely to be the only one of its type and many agencies are now going to be struggling to work out how they respond to this issue.

The great prize with UGC is that it supposedly offers much higher levels of engagement than other channels. An almost endless supply of fresh copy enables sites to grow quickly and capture hours of users online time at little cost – certainly no expensive journalists to worry about. However this also means is that there is little or no editorial control over what is being viewed, written about and discussed.

For advertisers, UCG is an interesting place to be although whether the benefits go beyond just getting another set of eyeballs is debatable. For UGC websites, these type of issues start to undermine the enormous values being placed on these companies. Google paid an amazing sum for youtube ($1.65bn - but much of this was paper money anyway i.e. a stock swap) whilst News International paid $580m (cash?) for MySpace. These valuations are almost exclusively based on potential and forecast ad revenues. Allegedly Facebook has not been sold because the valuation placed on the business is $8bn whilst organisations such as Microsoft only value the business at $6bn (see Such valuations are dependent on reliable revenue streams that will increase at a significant rate.

Whether these valuations take a knock after the Facebook débâcle remains to be seen. For my money, issues such as these reinforce the place of traditional media owners online. Groups like the FT, News International, Economist and Guardian have all embraced web 2.0 type interactivity but in each case, content may be vetted and advertisers are reasonably sure that their messages will reside in a suitable place. For those advertisers embracing UGC advertising, caution is recommended!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Common Afflictions that Marketers Suffer From

Ron Shevlin has detected some common afflictions that marketers suffer from. I loved the column he wrote and added some suggestions then I decided that this actually needed to be made into a presentation so I made one. Please let us know of more afflictions and their cures if known and I'll add them to the list.

See here for Ron's original post:



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Microsoft patents obvious idea

US patents are a strange thing. We recently consulted a patent attorney about our software product modelQED to try and determine what protection if any we could obtain for some of the more unique parts of the software. The answer we got back was not the one we were looking for. We were told that there was no chance of patenting a clever mathematical idea or software process here in the UK or the rest of Europe. However we were informed that about $30k would suffice should we wish to write (and most likely obtain) a patent in the US at very low risk.

It appears that the standards are very different on both sides of the Atlantic – so much so that even Congress is now looking at reforming the system to stop “obvious” inventions being patented.

Microsoft are sure to have an entire raft of patent and they’ve added another one into the mix in the last few days (see This application is for an ad targeting system making use of “biometric sensors, cameras, remote controls, or other accessories” to monitor who is watching a TV or other device and adjust the content accordingly. This is akin to web surfing on a PC who knows exactly who is using it at all times.

As I’ve mentioned in the past ( privacy concerns will undoubtedly throw a spanner in the works should Microsoft try to come up with a system such as this. In many ways this device would be some sort of Direct Marketing nirvana if there was a return channel to allow purchase. Obviously there is if the device is online and this is the market that Microsoft, Google and even some ad agencies are going after. However I would bet that these patents will come to little in the next five years or so. Privacy issues are becoming more and more important and “big giant head” devices that communicate with big brother aren’t exactly popular. Even if they can somehow find a way to use ad dollars to subsidise such a device, will people really embrace a new advertising channel such as “sniff you first” TV?

Monday, July 30, 2007

One line of marketing wisdom

I received an e-mail last week asking me to a blog by Matt McDonald at Penn State. Matt was after a one line quote of "all the marketing genius you can cram into one line".


What a great idea! This is surely one of the great things that can be achieved in a blog but wouldn't happen anywhere else.

Anyway my quote went in and having seen the other wisdom out there, I can only say that maybe I'm not as wise some of the guru's who submitted ideas. However it was an honour to be asked so please take a look for yourselves. Why not submit your own quote?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Great presentation - The Brand Gap

May people will have seen the attached presentation called "The Brand Gap". For those that haven't, take a look. There are some great points here about what makes a great brand and how might you help achieve this for your organisation. I love this deck...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tag cloud for this blog

Here is a tag-cloud from this site. It allows you to search for context in certain words and is lovingly brought to you from IBM's "Many Eyes" service.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter - has retail marketing gone mad?

As almost all those of us on planet earth are probably aware, the last Harry Potter book was just released at midnight on the 20th of July. In the week leading up to the books release, there has been lots of media chatter about this book launch – more than I can remember for some time. I’ve not read the books so I can’t vouch for their brilliance but one thing that is obvious is that the publisher Bloomsbury has lost control of the marketing associated with this launch.

Up until the final day, Bloomsbury have been keen to keep the final chapter of this saga under wraps. Embargos and security were used as methods for preventing publication and spoilers have been showing up online for weeks. In other words this is certainly a hot property that everyone was after.

Given this, how much discounting do you think would go on during DAY 1 of publication? 10%? 20%?

Even before publication, ASDA Walmart were talking up a massive 51% discount in the media that had led to a clash with publisher Bloomsbury (see . Small bookshops were complaining that at such a discount, it was cheaper for them to go to the supermarket to purchase stock than it was to go to the publisher direct. That puts the “cost” of each book at something approaching £9 here in the UK.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the shops today and saw even greater discounts on day 1. At WH Smiths they were offering a conditional discount of 61% off the cover price taking the price down to £6.99 – in other words they were almost certainly making a loss (something WH Smiths has specialised in during recent years). Further along in the shopping centre, the department store John Lewis was selling the book for £5 with no conditions. In other words, they were subsidising customers purchases to the tune of almost £4 per book. Given the threat that there was no coverage of this pricing to be seen at the front of the store and that John Lewis doesn’t usually stock books, I really wonder what kind of marketing tactic they thought they were employing?

So – Day 1 of a long awaited book release and the discounts are reaching epic proportions of 72% from list price. It’s not great news for Bloomsbury – I saw people purchasing multiple copies of the book and they are already showing up on ebay at inflated prices. Is it any good for the retailers? Well unless they are bringing in substantial new customers to their shops, one would assume it is not. Whilst Asda may have benefited from some early publicity, I doubt that the other retailers actually got the message out to consumers to tell them that they were going to offer even more generous subsidies discounts.

My take – the “me too” retailers were daft. In terms of marks out of 10, Asda get 7/10 because they let people know they were going to sell at cost, WH Smiths get 5/10 because at least their offer probably ensured a profitable transaction because of their use of link savings. John Lewis get 1/10 – a real stinker. Offer a book that you wouldn’t normally sell WAY below cost and then forget to tell people that you are doing this “one off” special. In other words – if you were going to buy this book elsewhere, why not get it from us and have some free money. It’s not going to build any loyalty and almost certain to lose them money. Poor.

More Potter Marketing and Economics Posts:
Drew McLellan - What is the cost of being right?

Seth Godin – Keeping a secret -

Megan McArdle - Harry Potter: the economics -

Greg Mankiw’s Confession -

Friday, July 20, 2007

Top economist signs for Google

The economics grads amongst us will be familiar with Hal Varian. He wrote one of the standard textbooks on microeconomics if memory serves me right. Anyway he’s now joined Google as their Chief Economist (see ). In the article Hal argues that the marketing world is about to see a load more economists joining ready to do battle with our mountains of data and bring better forecasting and measurement to marketing. Whilst such a trend would be welcomed by many, there is a depressing set of people in the industry who will be uninterested in what these economists might have to say for themselves.

In the past few years, I’ve seen a number of economists move from marketing into corporate finance (I’m talking about at the coalface level here) – I’ve never seen the reverse happen. We can only hope...

Why call yourselves marketingQED?

I've been asked on a couple of occasions why we chose the name marketingQED for our business venture. For those that don't know, QED stands for "quod erat demonstrandum" - Latin for "which was to be demonstrated" or "which has been shown".

We are using the name to suggest that we can "prove" or "demonstrate" the effectiveness of marketing - a fairly bold claim but an achievable one.

Will we stick with the name until the end of time? I don't know. There's much more to business success that a good name. Given that many people have questioned me about the name, I'd guess that there is less understanding of the term QED than I thought. Therefore we may need to change the name at another stage.

Anyway what has this got to do with marketing effectiveness? The answer is that it very little except that we're listening (a good tactic if you want to be successful they say). A brand isn't a funky name (or a poor one come to that) but it does add to first impressions. To be effective at marketing, you've got to be prepared to change horse mid-race if that's what your judgement is telling you. At this point, we're going well but only into the first bend......

Update on modelQED

Just a quick update to let you know how modelQED has been received in the marketplace.

We're really excited by the reaction we've had to the modelQED application that we just released onto the market (click here for details). When we demo the product, people instinctively "get" it and that's a great feeling. Two comments particular stand out for me:

1) "It's a Ronseal job" - this comment was made by the head of a major UK consultancy who understood that we're not trying to reinvent the wheel by making an uber-complex analytical tool. We're pragmatists and we try to be honest in our conversations with clients. Hopefully this is paying off. (FYI - Ronseal is a UK brand of consumer decorating materials famed for it's advertising tag line of "It does exactly what it says on the tin)

2) "It's amazingly beautiful" - a verbatim comment (honestly) from the head of a US agency who felt that our product was both easy to use and intuitive. This felt great because we've really tried to make our product easy to understand for an analyst. Try using standard SAS or SPSS charts to present information and you'll understand why we spent lot's of effort on "look & feel". It's not that they can't make great charts that tell a story but it takes a lot of effort.

We've still got things to improve and we're not being complacent. However it's our baby and we're proud. If you haven't seen the product and want a trial, go to our website and request one. No obligations. That way you can judge the above comments for yourself!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Heros - Zoho

Both Google and Microsoft are determined to move our applications online so that we have seamless access to our powerpoint / word / excel documents (yes I used the branded terms rather than presentation, authoring / spreadsheeting products) but there is at least one key competitor who is doing things differently – Zoho.

I’ve used Zoho apps for various things – if you purchase our modelling package, you will find that you can report a fault online via our website. It’s Zoho that powers this reporting and e-mails us your issues. We are likely to replace this code with our own once we get time but Zoho enabled us to get up and running in a quick and efficient manner.

The other thing I like about Zoho is that the apps are constantly being updated. Within any given week, new features are released as and when they are ready and these guys don’t hang about. Compare that to Microsoft or Google who release big packs as and when they feel like it. Zoho feels like a nimbler and humbler organisation and i’d back them to succeed for a while vs. the behemoths. Of course at some point, I assume that someone with BIG pockets will purchase them and make some real money from this business.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Poll added

If you're reading this online (as opposed to via an RSS feed), you will notice that I've added a poll to this blog (see right). Please take a second to let me know what topics you'd like me to write more on.

Let me know,


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quote of the week "At least CMOs don't do harm"

Adage are reporting that a forthcoming article in the Journal of Marketing research has reached the conclusion that it" important to note that CMOs do not have a negative impact on performance".

OK - slightly taken out of context. The gist of the research is suggesting that there is no conclusive proof that the presence of the CMO on the board of big organisations adds significantly to business performance - at least not on the tangible metrics such as sales or profitability.

The study won't be published until January so until then, you'll just have to read the Adage article. One word of caution - Adage uses the term "correlation" a lot in the article. Given that correlation could relate anything to anything else, read this one with care!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

RANT - what dese "Unlimited" mean to you

OK - it's time for a rant.

Mobile phone operators and broadband suppliers are advertising a range of "unlimited" services that are actually limited by "fair usage" policies. What they don't tell you is what "fair usage" actually constitutes. This is dishonest practice and does them no favours at all.

And no point running to the Advertising Standards Authority if you want to question this. Last month they rapt Orange on the knuckles over their unlimited data claim because they forgot to add small print saying that 40mb was a fair use cap (see

Note that the ASA "...exist to make sure all advertising, wherever it appears, meets the high standards laid down in the advertising codes".

As a brand, Orange continue to disappoint and is there any marketing that can be as ineffective in the long run as dishonest marketing?

Dissatisfaction grows with broadband suppliers - esp Orange. Note that Orange was one of the greatest brands ever created. It's a sad state of affairs....

Friday, June 29, 2007

The value of local research

One perennial topic of conversation in advertising is that of local vs. Global advertising campaigns. On the one hand, local campaigns should be more effective because they allegedly understand local needs far more than global campaigns ever could. On the other hand it’s far cheaper to create one execution and hope it’s suitable in most markets (this is what P&G often do).
A story in this weeks Observer newspaper magazine highlights an interesting case showing the value of local understanding and local messaging. It’s a great article and one you really should take the time to read.

The fabulous Alcock boys

Monday, June 25, 2007

Will the new Vodafone campaign ad do more than win awards?

Sometimes you see a commercial which makes you stop what you are doing, watch the TV (or online video for the 2.0 community out there) and literally stare at the TV to work our what's going on. I had this experience the other day when i saw the first airing of the new Vodafone commercial which I believe is called Mobile Internet (time rain):

I think that this is a beautiful commercial - it's well shot, interesting and it's going to get noticed. However I wonder what the ROI is going to look like on this? Whenever i see this ad, I wonder whether it wasn't a case of a great creative idea waiting for a client to buy into it rather than the other way around. Will this advert really sell incremental internet usage across the Vodafone network? I'm struggling to understand how.

There is no call to action in this advert - you don't get an offer to trial or any way in which users can sign up for services. What is commercial appears designed to do is raise awareness about online services. That bothers me because although I'm sure there was some kind of ROI framework put in place before the campaign aired, I'm amazed nobody made sure people knew how to get online or even view what content was already out there. Voda are spending a lot of money telling consumers across all networks that mobile internet services will give them back time. Nowhere does this specify that Voda is better; nowhere does it imply that customers on Voda get better services.

Payback on this campaign is going to be tough but if they can persuade millions to try a few online services, maybe those 3G network licences will look a better investment than they do at present. Before that though, they have to make this commercial pay off and we all know that 90 second ads are expensive. By my rough calculations, Voda are going to have to get each customer to increase their ARPU by more than £1 over the year to make this pay off and that's a tough ask as most people in telcos will attain to. At least the execs can look forward to a trip to Cannes next year!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Privacy concerns to hamper measurement?

One thing that direct coms depends on is measurement and a perceived ROI advantage over traditional coms (I say perceived because ROI and measurability are entirely different dimensions which are often confused!).

Whilst advertisers and researchers are happy to collect all the data available on individuals, people are starting to question the data which they give up to research organisations.

Neilsen Media Research are reportedly trying to link their TV audit with an Online one only to find that privacy concerns are starting to make people wary about the data they release on themselves. Clearly linkage between the #1 and #3 media channels is a major issue which researchers would love to get some info on.

Privacy concerns, opt-outs and other phenomena are all going to become greater impediments to the "single customer view" which marketing organisations are trying to reach. For my part, I believe that because of these issues, there will always be a market for top-down analysis of marketing which will last for at least the next 10 years - or at least until all mobile phones have RFID and all the privacy issues are taken care of.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Are Ford serious about the Taurus

In recent years, car manufacturers have looked to historic models for inspiration when designing and releasing new models. The Mini has been a great success for BMW, VW scored a minor hit with the Beetle (and the new Camper Van is on the way) and Fiat are about to release a new 500 model.

Whilst the Ford Taurus is not a "great" historic model, it does go back a long way (1992). However poor sales in recent years have led to the brand name becoming devalued in the US to the extent that one wonders why Ford are continuing with this brand.

From the new JWT commercial, it's clear that Ford are looking to promote this vehicle as a safe one - a bit like a Volvo. But wait! Ford own Volvo - so which is the safe one?

This strikes me as amazingly bad positioning of a brand. Taurus or Volvo for safety? Well Volvo has the track record so if it's safety i want then that's where I'll go. What about the retro value? Is Taurus a "great" brand which Ford need to maintain? erm no. I don't think it is.

Ah but wait - Volvo doesn't stand for safety anymore - the latest commercials focus on lifestyle:

Here's the question - what values does Ford assign to Taurus and Volvo. If they are sharing brand values then why keep two brands?

Off Topic: David Blane brand gets bigger

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

Contains bad language so not in the office!

Friday, June 15, 2007

modelQED Launched - finally!

Today we finally launched modelQED™, a marketing mix analysis tool (econometrics if you prefer) which will hopefully help to democrotise the usage of this powerful analytical technique.

For many years, i've figured that marketing mix analysis was actually a fairly well understood tool by many advertisers. There are many articles saying that it needs to be performed by professionals with years of experience. However my personal experience was that for 90% of the models i've ever created, the simple straightforward model was often the best. My econometrics knowledge was only used on the most specialist assignments. For the rest of the time, i was following a well defined process which in most cases gave the correct answers. modelQED™ is designed to deal with these challenges in record quick time and leave the hard core analysts to tackle the remaining challenges.

As with all things marketingQED are trying to do, we've focused our efforts on making modelQED™ both simple to use but also powerful in context. By this I mean that the users interaction with the package is made as easy as possible whilst the analysis delivered is exactly what would be required for the majority of mix modelling. The feedback to date is that we've largely achieved this. I think we will continue to develop the product focusing on even more simplification and user friendliness.

modelQED™ solves lots of issues for modellers but this is only the beginning. Give me a call or drop me an e-mail if you want a demo of this truly unique tool.

We have many other products in the pipeline. Hopefully the market will find these tools useful.

Any comments on the screenshots etc - please post or e-mail. Feedback always appreciated.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Online banners for branding - have these guys caught a fever?

Please read the following article by Jim Novo on the value of online banner ads and the frequent excuses used for this spending.

A great article and one which is bound to get comments over the coming week - keep watching.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What went wrong in the 2012 research

...yet another blog post on the 2012 logo then?

Well yes - what I want to focus on is not necessarily the validity of the logo (which I think is actually quite cool in it's multimedia incarnation) but what lessons there are for researchers.

It's clear that public opinion in the UK and elsewhere isn't 100% behind the logo. Any well conducted research would have shown that this logo would divide opinion. That in itself is no big deal. However there is another theory and it's this. Although a great deal of research would have been done to justify the logo (£400k goes a fair way), it may not have actually been done properly - it's possible that they asked the wrong questions and in this may have included the use of leading questions - these are a real problem in this type of research.

In this case, a leading question would have been "do you think that this logo expresses dynamism and energy?" - clearly the question itself leads the respondent to assess the logo on the emotive terms dynamism and energy. If the selection criteria for the logo are these characteristics then - hey presto - we have a winner. A better question would have been "what emotions does this logo convey" - at least this wouldn't have led respondents to certain answers.

Let's turn to that great TV series "Yes, Prime Minister" for the definitive explanation:

Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."
Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."
Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"
Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."
Bernard Woolley: "How?"
Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

As I said at the start, I like the logo. However many people don't and such an adverse reaction to a picture has to be unique in the history of logo design.

So that's my theory - it researched well for one of two reasons - either they asked leading questions because they wanted a certain answer or the questions were formed in such a way that one logo one over the others. Either way, I'd love to see the research which gave us this new logo.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Don't just analyse the sign-ups! The case of the missing Channel lipstick.

Here's a little story about why it's never the best idea to analyse the success of a campaign by the number of "clicks", visitors or sign-ups.

My wife was browsing the Internet about 6 weeks ago and was presented with an online advert (or somehow found a link) for Chanel makeup - since you ask it was for Le Rouge lipstick. The premise was a typical one - watch the online advert or in this case film, learn about the product and we'll send you a free sample.

At this point, I'm assuming that their analytics team are quite happy with the data they collected and the value the campaign generated. I'm also assuming that their brand manager is feeling quite good about this campaign:
  1. got the viewer (in the right target market)
  2. got the details
  3. they've signed up to our database (and are likely to have selected to receive more info)

Now so far, there's no real ROI - but they have now got a person to go and sell to. The next part of the implicit deal that they have made is to send out a free sample but this is where the "deal" falters. Instead what actually happened was that my wife received an e-mail yesterday telling her that she can't have a free sample - "sorry but it's all gone" was the message. Those with a keen memory will recall that this is a 6 week process between sign-up and being told that stock has run out of the freebie. So the question for Chanel is this. Was this a successful campaign?

From a marketing measurement point-of-view, i suspect that internally it's being regarded as a promotion that worked "too" well - certainly a success! Too many people said that they wanted to trial the product and we got too many interested customers. Oh how tough can this marketing game be?

In practice, what Chanel did was raise then lower peoples expectations about the brand and it was all unnecessary for the following reasons:
  1. It's easy to work out how much stock you have then close the offer when it's run out - Chanel didn't do this (and by implication can't). That's dumb. In fact it took 6 weeks for Chanel to spot this.
  2. The marginal cost of a few extra lipsticks must run to literally a few thousand pounds which is a tiny amount in comparison to any potential damage from not fulfilling the brand promise - again dumb.
  3. Chanel could have offered something else in return if there was a shortage of product. Maybe an alternative free sample, consultation or even a voucher
You may of course question why a premium brand like Chanel is offering a free trial or even vouchers. Neither are very "premium brand" but clearly Chanel's team felt that it was a risk worth taking to bulk up their database of prospects. In practice, I'd guess that they've added a whole list of names to a database with little value and potentially negative ROI given that they left so many people disappointed. My guess is that there is a whole range of people out there who are now less inclined towards this prestigious brand than there were previously which can't be a good thing.

  • On a "sign-ups" basis - a success
  • On a "visitors" basis - a success
  • On a "brand equity" basis - fail
  • On an ROI basis - really?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A new term emerges for online analytics

Pete Affeld at Numeric Analytics has coined a new phrase to describe the analysis of online advertising using econometrics - "3rd generation" web analytics (see

What I like about this is that it acknowledges that there is now a realisation that you cannot analyse online advertising in isolation from other actives. I've noticed this trend as i talk to online media companies about their analytical capabilities and it certainly seems to be a good time for these organisations to reassess how they define ROI for their customers. If Pete is right then all those TV and Radio analysts will be moving into online in the near future. However as others have noticed, there is plenty of money in the bigger media channels to justify top researchers fees but less is going to be available - hence the need for better tools, training and processes in marketing research. It's this last reason which gives me faith that our new venture marketingQED will be a success.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Walmart's Brand Positioning Report Leaked

The NYTimes has published a branding report on Walmart which was prepared by their agency GSD&M. There's going to be a lot of chatter about this online the gist of it is that the Brand Reputation may be failing or at least the "Pride" in the brand needs reinventing.

See Brand Autopsy for further comments on this (

Report available here -

New research highlights the presence of Strategic Consumers

A new piece of research from Gérard P. Cachon and Robert Swinney at Warton ( suggests that there may be three types of shoppers which retailers need to consider when setting stock levels and retail strategy. To quote:

“Some shoppers just can't help themselves and buy mostly on impulse without regard to price. Others are die-hard bargain hunters, who only open their wallets for a discount.

“Then there are the strategic consumers, who are willing to buy full-price sometimes, but at other times they will wait for a bargain. According to new Wharton research, it's these customers that retailers need to focus on in order to reap the full benefits of lean retail inventory management and variable pricing”

If this article is correct then the current model of release at top price, take the profits then discount towards the end of a products lifespan is not going to last. The research looks at retailers like Zara and airlines such as Southwest and highlights their policies which commit customers to an early purchase rather than waiting for discounting to take place.

For marketing analysts, there is an interesting suggestion here. Whilst most segmentation is behavioural is terms of how consumers actually use products or interact with them, retailer segmentation is typically behavioural. The question now is can you use store card data to identify the strategic customers and can you bring forward their purchases? Any ideas if this has been done anywhere and what it actually meant in practice?