Media Companies Are Betting on Hyperlocal, But Will Brands Follow?

Google, Nike Making Plays But Most Marketers Will Need Better Payout to Shift National Dollars to Regional

By:  Published in AdAge: August 14, 2012

It’s rare these days to hear a positive story about the newspaper industry, but I recently learned of the Pembroke and Pembroke Docks Observer, a newspaper in South Wales that decided to bet its future on a hyperlocal strategy. It focused almost entirely on covering local news, local people and local events while soliciting community-generated content — a package not provided by the larger county or national titles. It was rewarded with a doubling of its circulation.

Its owners say their success comes down to remaining local, personal and relevant to their community. That idea has a lot of merit for national brands in the U.S.

We are programmed to play nationally. The national 30-second spot in an “American Idol” or an NFL game is king. While there is clearly an efficiency and value in maintaining a national presence, however, it’s become even more important to engage consumers in order to truly grow brands — or disrupt your competitors. It’s also becoming harder to do. Being relevant locally, as the Pembroke and Pembroke Docks Observer discovered, can be a powerful recipe for growing market share.

“There’s no such thing as a national customer,” a client once said to me. “Just lots of local ones.” And it takes insight into local tastes, local demographics, local issues and local competitors to be relevant and win the consumer. Organize national, act local is starting to get some traction. But the media are leading the way.

Media properties’ local targeting is increasingly offering more precision. Hyperlocal websites are providing local content and localized national advertising platforms by individual towns.

Google recently announced last month the ability to buy search by ZIP code, and again bet on local yesterday when it said it had agreed to buy Frommer’s, including 350 travel guides and a website covering more than 3,500 locations.

Addressable TV is beginning to scale. By end of year, we will be able to target by individual household in 22 million homes. And the large national radio groups have become highly effective on-the-ground local marketing partners on-air, off-air and online.

The question is whether major national and international marketers will invest the time and money to take advantage.

Some sophisticated marketers are moving in that direction. Walmart has introduced a Facebook app customizing marketing for each of its nearly 3,600 U.S. locations, including a dynamic social billboard that serves as an electronic circular with details of sales, special product deals and recipe suggestions. This is a smart local program to move the huge national chain closer to its community.

Nike has been creating city-specific epicenters to spark buzz and credibility for its brand. Its global online reality web competition series “The Chosen” was fueled by local grassroots skating and surfing events. In the U.K., Nike held a 15-day challenge for runners across 48 different post codes in London, using some nifty technology to measure and rank their performance.

The increasing ubiquity, not to mention portability, of mobile media will almost guarantee that all marketers will need a mobile media strategy. And central to that strategy is the ability to embrace location-based messaging and promotion.

National brands are experimenting there. L’Oreal promoted its Vichy line using timeRAZOR, a mobile app to promote and schedule one-on-one beauty consultations at Duane Reade locations in New York, an effort that led to a 150% increase in sales for that promotion.

Search is clearly another major opportunity, with the BIA/Kelsey Group that local searches on mobile phones will exceed local searches on desktop computers by 2015. Perhaps the iPhone’s Siri, which uses Yelp’s reviews, will start to offer brand recommendations in the not-too-distant future.

But ultimately most marketers will need a better payout to shift national dollars to local, posing a riddle for the media companies betting so much of their own money on a local strategy. Data will have to be the compass for media sellers and buyers alike. Mobile ad network xAd recently published data showing that locally-targeted mobile display ads deliver 5% to 8% click-through rates, compared to 0.6% for typical mobile display ads.

There’s no doubt that local will be an increasing play for national marketers. It’s what brands need to do to engage consumers and grow. However, it is going to be more challenging for marketers to execute and more costly and complex to orchestrate. But the possibilities are exciting.


Let’s Not Write-Off Facebook Just Yet

By Antony Young, CEO Mindshare North America

They say that a week is a long time in our business, and surely the folks at Facebook would agree.

The overwhelming media darling for the past few years saw its IPO become a catalyst for the press, and every other news channels to turn on the social media network.  I guess the largest IPO in history was either going to go one of two ways with them.  As a journalist once told me, to the news media, a plane that crashes is a much better story than one that takes off!

Mark Zuckerberg strikes me as being quite different than most other digital entrepreneurs.  He never particularly chased the limelight.  In fact the notoriously media-shy executive was relentless sort out by the media.  He never seemed in a hurry to sell to advertisers.  Until recently we mostly pursued him.  And it would seem that the necessity to go public came more from the desire by the money men and the large number of employees looking to realize value for their stock.

So what does a disappointing IPO and disgruntled investors mean for Facebook and the advertising and media community?

Nothing.  Facebook is no different this month than it was last month.

It is a powerful, ubiquitous venue for social interaction by consumers … about half a billion exchanging or viewing content every day.

It remains an interesting platform for brands.  I’m not sure if we have yet figured out its full potential just yet or indeed how to monetize or measure it satisfactorily.

It has become a venue for advertising with some rich and fairly unique insight into their users profile, interests and behavior.

A flawed IPO and fledging stock price doesn’t really change that.

Those of us that recall the great dot com stumble in 2000 will remember that while catastrophic for many investors really didn’t impact the underlining development and growth in the Internet as a channel and a marketing medium.

But here’s what I fear…

The overwhelming attention by Wall Street and now its public shareholders to its quarterly earnings, cause their management to lose its focus.   The ad community isn’t going to spend more just because they need to hit their numbers.  Continue to work with us to find the models, listen and by all means sell.  The dollars will come because it makes sense to marketers when it delivers an ROI that we can justify on our timetable.  Stay the course.  I worry that expectations at this point seem unsubstantially high and that they could quickly lose patience and prompt them into making rash decisions.

Here’s what I hope for from them …

They use the cash well.  Acquiring new companies, new technologies; and entering new venues is going to be what is going to define Facebook Inc. in the future.

When one looks at its peer companies … Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo! Their stock valuation and performance as media companies has been defined as much by their new businesses as their core business model.

Google for example, bought the companies or technologies behind YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome, Adsense, Android, Google Books, Google TV, Google+ and Google Wallet.  They are now much more than a search engine/Adwords business.

I don’t plan to invest in Facebook stock anytime soon.  But what is more important to Facebook is if they can get me and the rest of the marketer community investing in their products.

Media provides marketers into cultural and consumer insights …

The Rise of Pinterest and of Image-Based Tweets Shows New Movement

By:  Published in Ad Age: March 06, 2012
There was a time when media planners’ role was limited to determining where marketers should advertise. The world has so moved on.

Today media agencies and media departments are wonderfully placed to deliver a richer understanding of consumer viewpoints, shopper intentions and cultural trends.

Each year I make it a point to attend MTV’s upfront presentation — and not because its party has the best headline acts. (Last year it was Bruno Mars, the year before it was Train.) MTV more than anyone else really “gets” millennials — the largest and most important consumer segment. The popularity of shows like “16 and Pregnant” and its “Teen Mom” followup helps us understand a generation that is embracing responsibility and social issues. MTV’s revival of “Beavis and Butthead” supports another trend we’re seeing among millennials: the popularizing of the 1990s as the hip decade.

TV of course has always been a barometer for popular culture. When “Friends” first the air in 1994, it offered a window into Gen X-ers at a time when they were exploring a new kind of tribal bonding. The quick popularity of “24” showed a hardening of the public’s stance on security post9/11. And popular shows such as “Modern Family” and “Glee” include prominent portrayal of lead gay characters in interesting stories, indicating something of a coming out for Middle America.

Then last month, rather astoundingly, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” surpassed Fox “American Idol” in the ratings. Yes, this could be a sign that the longtime ratings king is tiring, but perhaps it’s also a validation that geeks and technology have officially become cooler than chasing fame and fortune.


But it’s not just TV anymore.

At Mindshare we’re seeing a consumer movement toward a more visual culture brought on by technology and media. Smarter devices are prompting more occasions for people to create and consume visual content, while social media is encouraging that content to be shared on multiple platforms.

This is manifesting itself in text-based tweets’ giving way to photo and video tweets, Google+ hangouts that facilitate group video, the proliferation of infographics at news outlets, viral sharing of Photoshopped images and, most recently, the rise of Pinterest, the online pinboard for sharing images and video — and currently the fastest-growing social-media platform.

Consumers are compiling and sharing photos and video, like an earlier generation collected LPs and bumper stickers, as their version of defining and projecting their individual identity.

Insights derived from the way consumers use media can help drive more potent communications. The breakthrough advertising idea for Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” to use real, life-size models, involved a lot of exploratory work with consumers. But one supportive insight came from the media, when the planning team learned that 80% of women felt worse about themselves after reading a beauty magazine.


When Estee Lauder saw how Facebook profiles were becoming an important social currency for young women, the cosmetics marketer made digital photographs available at in-store makeup counters so that consumers could post them to their profile pages.

The opportunities for insights are beginning to seem endless. If you want to know when to advertise to vacation planners or wedding planners, then check out Google to understand the patterns of when and what people are searching.

Before you advertise in media, see what the media can tell you about how to advertise.







Why Marketers Had to Be at CES

Immersion Is Worth the Trip, Says Mindshare CEO Antony Young

By:  Published in : January 18, 2012
In a world where everything at CES is blogged, posted on YouTube or tweeted, you could be excused for questioning the value of making the trek to the scrum in Las Vegas each January.

But the difference between attending CES and reading about it is like the difference between going to a football game and watching it on TV. Like a football game, actually, CES offers massive crowds, underwhelming food and good odds you’ll miss something from your limited perspective. All that said, however, nothing beats just being there.

The visibility and insight you garner from being up close to the players, sharing conversations with other knowledgeable spectators and the encounters outside the main event, in my mind, make this a “must attend” venue for marketers.

So why is CES a valuable event and what does it bring for marketers?

It’s a tech show, but really it’s about understanding how content will be consumed
CES 2012 really hammered home to me just how technology and media continue to intersect in new ways. Tablets, smartphones, notebooks, TVs and the odd internet-enabled fridge are portals to entertainment, media and social interactivity. Smart mobile devices are poised to become the lead media consumption platform sooner or later. With a truckload of smarter, interconnected, smaller and cheaper mobile devices being showcased at CES, consumers will expect content to be smarter, on the go and 24/7. This is disrupting the way marketers have to think about creating and distributing marketing content.

But consumers are also going to be seeking free content to make the most of their new devices’ capabilities. I predict this will be the biggest opportunity for marketers in 2012.

There’s value in getting wet
Across their busy work schedules, marketers have been accustomed to getting information in drips: The odd article off a news feed, a chance meeting or visit by a vendor, a one-off panel at a conference or a half-year agency update on the latest media trends. Information comes dribbling in like a leaky tap. But CES is like standing under a high-pressure shower head that immediately gets you totally soaked. That’s when you really start to immerse in the media world and think more about taking action instead of being a spectator.

Speed dating … CES style 
It’s what happens outside the exhibit halls that really adds value to the week. The likes of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft and Twitter were all in attendance again this year, bringing their top execs to town. The clients that chose to attend the conference got to hear firsthand the latest offerings in a Silicon Valley-meets-upfronts-style event. I was impressed with AOL’s Huffpo HD, its venture into online social TV, a fresh alternative to a tired television model in need of updating. There were plenty of sidebar conversations that offered more individual and specific conversations for clients’ brands.

A chance to set New Year’s resolutions
Because CES takes place in early January, it gives marketers and agencies the opportunity to jointly engage in discussions at the start of a new year and lay down some resolutions. It’s a great platform to set some big goals about how you’re going to change and embrace the shifting landscape … a potential catalyst to make one or two big ideas happen.

I’ll see you again next year.



My top ten list of top ten lists for 2011 …

This is that time of the year when everyone comes out with their top ten list of 2011.  I’m never been a great believer in re-inventing the wheel, so have curated my top ten top ten lists of 2011 … Enjoy!

1. top ten social media lessons of 2011 by Christopher Barger

Part 1  and Part 2

Lesson #7: People in social platforms not only want to feel “part of” events or phenomena, but social networks allow them to feel like they truly are part of a collective.

2. ZDNet’s 2011’s Top Ten Pirated TV Shows by Steven Vaughan-Nichols

3. Most viewed videos on YouTube

Ultimate Dog Teaser 75.8million views

4. Search Engine Watch’s Top 10 Most Significant Search & Social Marketing Stories of 2011 by Guillaume Bouchard 

#4. Facebook Becomes Biggest Site for Display Ads on Earth

5. Ecopreneurist’s top 10 green marketing campaigns by Jennifer Kaplan

#5. HSBC “No Small Change”: A highly successful campaign elevated HSBC’s environmental credentials and consolidated their environmental leadership position; it exceeded all expectations without TV or radio

6. Ad Age’s Top 10 Viral Advertising Campaigns of 2011

# 8. Google: “The Web Is What You Make of It” Agency: Google Creative Lab Launch date: May 2 Views: 21.2 million

Google’s Chrome browser is becoming its second-most successful product, behind Search. It passed Firefox and is closing in onMicrosoft‘s Internet Explorer. Google enlisted Lady Gaga, Johnny Cash (posthumously) and Justin Bieber, among others, in 11 creative executions. Some have been promoted to TV from YouTube.

7. Adweek’s Top Ten TV Commercials in 2011 by Tim Nudd

#2 CHIPOTLE • Back to the Start

8. Hubspot’s top ten marketing infographics for 2011

#3. Top Email Marketing Irritations

9. The Faster Times top ten marketing stories we’ll still be talking about in 2012 by Mat Zucker

#6. Twitter as customer service channel

10. Mashable’s top ten iPad apps by Christine Warren

What is the value of brand media strategy to agencies today?

Interview on Fast Forward/YouTube site … Antony Young speaking on brand media strategy.

About Fast Forward:  Google and The Wharton School have partnered to gather and provide quick perspective on managing the change in the marketing landscape. As we explore what will define success through marketing’s continual evolution, we aim to share ideas and lessons learned to help keep us all better informed and effective as the game – and conversation – rapidly progresses.  Tune in to viewpoints from industry and academic thought leaders to acquire inspiring, empowering and actionable insights.