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.