Archive for the ‘Creative Versioning’ Category

Marketing Power Tools – Building efficiency through effective use of power tools

June 24, 2010

In the same way that two men using power nailers can roof a house in less than a day versus a week using manual hammers, our clients utilize LiveTechnology’s platform of marketing power tools to take cost, time, and hassle out of the process of managing large advertising production management tasks such as ad localization and versioning.  That said, in the same way that construction power tools have specific designed-in capabilities and are sized for the job at hand – so it goes for marketing automation.  In this issue, we take a look at how to evaluate how your organization could benefit from using LiveTechnology’s “power tools”.

A simple process:

When you boil down the process of getting an advertising or marketing message into the marketplace, it really comes down to three simple steps:

  • Create/Ideate:  In this process, the message is ideated, created, written, shot, recorded, etc.  Typically this function is performed by creative services departments at either agencies or within companies.  At this step, people think of the idea and then execute it into something that can be used in the second step.
  • Production:  Production is the process of synthesizing the output of the creative process into something that can be consumed by the third step …
  • Media and Manufacturing:  Media and Manufacturing is the process of utilizing the output of the creative and production steps to deliver the message to the intended audience.  This includes media outlets and channels such as newspapers, websites, magazines, TV stations, direct marketing and more, and includes manufacturing processes such as POP, printing, and more.

The process is relatively efficient and capital-intensive at the ends of the process – and has lots of room for improvement in the middle.

A Question:

Our clients often call us intrigued by the concepts and then struggle to apply them until we help them define how to judge whether or not you need “power tools” in your marketing.  The question always is “Well, how do I know if this is going to work for MY company?”

The Answers:

Don’t you love it when someone answers your question in the form of another question?  The answers lie the questions you should ask yourself when considering the question “do I need marketing automation at my company to help build efficiency in our marketing process.”

1)      Do you have dealers/stores/sales reps/franchisees that sell your brand?

2)      Do those selling your brand at the transaction level use your brand in marketing?

3)      Are those selling your brand locally using your brand correctly?

4)      Do you have directly-owned distribution or is it two- or three-tier?

5)      Do you frequently run advertising in multiple newspapers or print publications on the same day?

6)      Do you have the need to target your ad message to those receiving it?

7)      Do you run online advertising where the message is targeted to either the location or demographic of those viewing the site?

8)      Do you source-code or in some other way, uniquely identify your advertising and marketing materials for the purpose of tracking?

9)      Do you have your agencies create multiple versions of the same thing for any possible reason?

10)   Do you have the need to share your brand’s assets and information with partners or other entities?

Just saying “yes” to a single criteria means you should take a serious look at utilizing marketing technology to build efficiency in your marketing efforts.  Like the use of power tools, using marketing technology application like LiveTechnology’s LiveRetail and LiveMarketer products shouldn’t be done unless you’ve given serious consideration to the job at hand.  But, with a well-founded business case, and well understood marketing needs, marketing automation technology can save up to 90% on the cost of marketing versioning and localization, reduce cycle times by up to 75%, increase advertising accuracy to a rate far greater than what can be achieved manually, and finally, increase your distribution network’s satisfaction with your brand.

Conclusion:

Like a power saw or a power nailer, using marketing automation tools like LiveTechnology’s products, needs to be considered carefully.   But, given the right set of circumstances, the results can be stunning.

~ Stewart Campbell,

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Technology: Keeping Cash Flowing

June 23, 2009

As every business has come to realize over the last few years, cash flow is the heart and soul of any enterprise.  CEOs and CFOs face difficult decisions when tightening the belt to protect their continuing functions.  Routinely, one of the first expenses to look at cutting is the seemingly “discretionary” expense of advertising and marketing; after all, the relatively fixed costs of human resources and production are reluctant expenditures to put on the chopping block unless necessary.

What does this mean for marketers?

Recessionary times put immense pressure on marketers to justify budgets and prove how they contribute to the enterprise’s bottom line.  At the strategic level, many executives view marketing from the GAAP point of view – as an expense, rather than an investment.  CMOs and marketing leaders are generally quick to point out that business professors like Roger Graham at Oregon State University have demonstrated that in the five recessionary periods since 1971, advertising spending contributed to increased earnings for up to three years.

Consider Hyundai Motor America – this company launched a new campaign to promote its “Hyundai Assurance” program which has seen Hyundai increase market share when the automotive industry has declined 38%.  John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School, points out that brands that increase advertising while their competitors cutback improve market share and ROI.

What to do when money is tight?

While Hyundai has taken a risk that has seemingly paid off, executives must also recognize that for every Hyundai, there are five other companies that have failed.  Regardless of strategy, the number one goal of every enterprise should be to look to cut wasteful spending.  Although at a high level waste may be hidden behind a murky veil of seemingly innocent contractor fees, the truth is that for all organizations, technology is the number one solution to cut costs while maintaining or growing advertising efforts.

If you advertise, you have an expensive team of people assembling the final “production ready” materials that your customers see and respond to (hopefully!).  Today, you probably accept this as an unchanging fact of doing business – but why?  You would never think of hiring a team of typists to put together a memo for you, yet you, or your creative agency, have a team of production associates who put together all aspects of your advertising – from newspaper to television to digital.  Your word processing software on your computer and your email on your phone has replaced the typists – but why is the large team not relegated to history?

Ultimately, the answer is that organizations either cut budgets or assume they have the most efficiency available.

DO NOT BE DELUDED!

Unless you have full automation of your marketing implementation process, you can spend the same amount of money and get 7x to 12x more output or realize savings of 13% to 17% of your advertising costs.  Think of this sample advertising budget of $100 million split up as follows:

$80 million = media purchasing
$20 million = production of materials/creative

Technology can reduce the latter to $5 million comfortably saving $15 million for this organization.

Make your CFO happy in a challenging time – look into what technology can do for you and your organization!

Media Buying and Selling

June 30, 2008

According to Adage, Discover Financial is putting its $85 million media buying account into review.  This is a great opportunity to touch on a huge difference between brands and their local entities.  Brands buy media through a media buying company while local businesses are sold media by local media outlets.

Why does this make a difference?

Because when a brand wants to change media buyers, it “launches a review” of its media buying account.  Local businesses do not have the luxury of a media buyer, they deal with dozens of salespeople from local radio, television, newspaper, printshops and more.  Moreover, they don’t “launch a review” they know these salespeople and have relationships with them; they are members of the Chamber of Commerce and do business with each other regularly.

Understanding this relationship is critical when helping brands to understand how their local businesses interact in their local communities and why, in many cases, programs aimed at helping local businesses end up failing.  A huge stumbling block brands and agencies fail to realize are that these relationships cannot be easily changed.  In many cases, local initiatives have strict rules requiring utilization of specific media types or fulfillment partners.  These rules ignore the long-lasting relationships that local businesses have.

Understanding the relationships that local businesses have are critical when evaluating local marketing strategies.  A local marketing strategy that understands this concept and supports it will ultimately be  successful rather than a solution that is tied to specific media partners or restircts media partners.

Advertising is Local

June 30, 2008

DirecTV CMO, Paul Guyardo was quoted in Adage as saying:

“Three years ago, the marketing strategy was pretty much to have this one national marketing strategy. The reality of it is that the competition is local. The competition is not national competition. The competition is Comcast. It’s Time Warner. It’s Cox. It’s Charter. It’s Fios. And you’ve got to be able to really understand what’s going on and understand where things are heating up geographically, where they’re dialing off, and read and react and adjust your plans accordingly.”

This isn’t just try for satellite vs. cable, it’s every business!  85% of all sales are still made in stores within 15 miles of the customer’s home.  Every business needs a local strategy because the battle for a customer’s sale is ultimately waged near to the site of purchase.  This means using multiple forms of media and versioning ads to effectively reach local markets.

As Greg Sterling noted in his blog post about Yahoo and Publicis serving mobile ads the holy grail is “one to one marketing.”  Why shouldn’t this same standard apply to all marketing?  What marketer wouldn’t want to have a personalized ad in any medium for any customer?

The production technology is already here!  LiveAdMaker can produce unlimited versions of the same pieces, customized down to every detail, the only limitation is on the delivery medium.  Read the Adage and Greg Sterling articles at:

http://adage.com/cmostrategy/article?article_id=127842

http://gesterling.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/local-and-the-future-of-ad-serving/

Cross-Medium Ads Drive Sales

June 13, 2008

In a recent survey by Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo, one of the conclusions reached is “Seeing products and services advertised in multiple channels increased both consumer turst in them and likelihood to buy.”  Half of respondents said they were more likely to buy a product featured in a newspaper advertisement after seeing it online.

This is encouraging news for newspaper advertisers, and reinforces the idea that multiple medium advertising drives sales.  After viewing a newspaper advertisement, 31% who search online, go to a search engine.  Surprisingly, of the adults who use search engines, 70% purchased at a store or dealer following additional research online.

What does this mean for marketers?  First, marketers need to ensure they have a unified message across all forms of media.  Because most purchases are made in local stores, this means having consistent messaged from the local dealer or store is critical.

Second, markters need to USE multiple forms of media.  With increasing media fragmentation, using multiple forms of media is critical to effectively reach customers and drive them into the sales process.

Third, it’s essential that the web presence of a brand at the corporate and local level reflect the approved messages of the brand.  Customers who use a search engine and go to a local store or dealer website should have the same brand experience as if they were at the brand’s website.

It’s clear that all business is local – most sales still happen in a store, but the process of getting to the final transaction is dramatically changing.  Marketers must stay ahead of these changes to build brand equity while driving sales.

View the report at Marketing Charts.

The New ROI: Brand Networking

June 10, 2008

With advertisers struggling with ways to deal with Web 2.0, many marketers question the return on investment of Web 2.0 strategies.  After all, while companies like Facebook and MySpace are themselves worth millions, the number of advertisers that have seen success from using these platforms as advertising tools is small (perhaps nonexistent).  While apps that create “viral buzz” for brands may be the rage of Web 2.0 right now, advertisements that are untargeted and rely on the user to give feedback(read more here) are ignored by users, or may even drive high-profile users from a service.

What’s the solution to this problem? Marketers need to change the way they understand online advertising to look for “Return on Involvement”.  Involvement is the time that customers spend with the brand during their time online.  For usual display or search advertising, the involvement is very low.  Involvement is the greatest when a brand can interact seamlessly with a user while refraining from intrusion.

The optimal solution for this is Brand Networking.  Brand Networking is simply a brand controlled social network that is built around the core relationship between the brand and the customer.  The “core relationship” is the interaction where a customer and brand meet and conduct business.  For example, a social network for parents might be sponsored by a brand that is associated with baby products, or a social network for IT specialists might be sponsored by an infrastructure vendor.  What’s the difference between the brand network and placing an ad at Parents.com (online home of American Baby, Parents and Family Circle)?  Placing an ad has no involvement with the user – branding a social network builds a relationship with the user.

Brand Networks are effective at building long-lasting relationships with users, locking customers in to the brand, becuase they provide value to the community they serve and are relevant to the actions of the user.  Because of the core relationship, users have a high percentage of finding the message and branding to be relevant.  Presently, relevance is the top criticism users have about the advertisements on social networks.

Additionally, brand networks offer brands the opportunity to reward positive actions users take.  Imagine a social network around youth soccer that was owned by a sports drink manufacturer.  Now, what would happen if the social network rewarded users with points to spend (on prizes and rewards) when they bought the sports drink?  Clearly, the sports drink would become top of mind for the parents and players of the youth soccer network.  Would you purchse the sports drink if it could help your child’s team get rewards or tickets to professional sporting events?

In addition to involvement, it’s clear how the scenario above would provide measurable results – a model that builds brand loyalty and provides clear measurements of ROI! Today’s increasing media fragmentation makes getting messages across to customers difficult; now imagine reaching customers without distraction and building a relationship with them – what other form of media offers this?

Tomorrow’s high-income consumers are spending an average of 20 hours each month online and 74% of them are using social networks – brand networking targets not only these younger, internet savvy customers, but older customers who using social networks at increasing rates (presently 53% of adults use the internet for social networks).

Brand Networking guru, AJ “Brand Geek” Loiacono (visit his blog here) has recently started a blog about the topic; stay tuned to it as he and his company are on the cutting edge of this emerging market.

Local Marketing Rings the Cash Register

May 23, 2008

Peter Sachse, CMO of Macy’s, was interviewed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday regarding how the “My Macy’s” localization initiative will hopefully improve slumping sales at Macy’s. While there has been media focus on Macy’s switch from a “national” focus to a “local” focus, not much attention has been paid to identifying why local strategies work.

First, local strategies build brand equity. As we can learn from Macy’s, customers had a relationship with the “brands” that Macy’s converted to “Macy’s”. With the conversion, the loyalty was dissolved and only now is Macy’s trying to work to build up its local brand equity.

Second, local strategies overcome media fragmentation. Because mass media is losing its sway over the advertising industry, no longer can any advertiser simply look to television or national newspapers for their promotions. National television campaigns featuring celebrities have helped Macy’s not because of the celebrity, but because they see a product advertised and can go to their local store and purchase it. Moreover, the products being advertised are products any person might need regardless of location. These are essentially promotions and NOT brand building. Its these same types of ads that work at local levels to get traffic in the store.

Third, local strategies help retailers avoid cutting prices. In its most recent quarterly reporting, profits and sales were up at the specialty retailer Abercrombie and Fitch because they changed strategies from cutting prices on clothing to keeping prices steady and increasing store traffic through a controlled number of in-store specials. Imagine if store managers had the tools to pick one or two items of merchandise that they could mark down dramatically to get customers into the store and then see a bump in their full price merchandise. This isn’t imaginary, it’s what Sam Walton did when he first started his Wal-Mart chain. He would find a few items of merchandise he could mark down dramatically to get customers in the store where they would invariably purchase other merchandise at the regular price. Because each store’s inventory and market is different, store managers should be able to make these decisions and execute them to drive store traffic and ring the register.

Marketers need to reevaluate what it means to “go local” and no longer view it as trying to personalize an experience for millions of different customers. Going local needs to be about getting the most relevant message in front of a person in the form of media they will respond to. This means local strategies must cross all forms of media, be in coordination with all messages to build brand equity and still retain the local content necessary to be effective.

Learn more about local marketing and why automation tools solve these problems at www.LiveTechnology.com

Agencies Still Don’t Get It

May 23, 2008

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the company avVenta was hailed as “reaping the rewards” of advertising agencies shipping work to overseas contractors to meet the demands of large scale production for online ads. As the article notes, “campaigns are labor-intensive to produce.” Why do agencies continue to rely on manual labor when technology can produce the same results for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest outsourced labor?

With agencies executing campaigns that have display ads, websites, emails, search ads, videos and game with thousands of variations on each, who would rely on manual labor to create hundreds of thousands of versions when computers can create these in hours?

Imagine no longer having to send work halfway around the world and wait for it to be created and shipped back when an agency can keep all their production in house and execute it in hours.

No one would consider handwriting thousands of copies of documents when they can be created on a computer and sent to a high-capacity printer and created in minutes. Why would anyone consider creating hundreds of thousands of versions of any advertising materials by hand when a computer can do it in less time and for less money than even the cheapest manual labor?

Local Newspaper Websites Lead in Local Online Advertising

May 2, 2008

In a report by Borrell Associates, over $2 billion was spent in 2007 by local advertisers on the websites of local newspapers.  This represents a 27% share of the local online advertising market ahead of local yellow pages, television websites and local radio stations.  Local online video advertising is the fastest growing segment with an expected $1.2 billion to be spent in 2008.

Interestingly, a majority of online advertisers at local newspaper websites do not advertise in print editions of the paper.  One explanation for this can be the use of dedicated sales teams to actively solicit advertisers for online.  Unlike other media outlets, newspapers devote two times as many online-only sales people.  This means a salesperson who specializes in online advertising is contacting local businesses to solicit business, not a print salesperson.

What does this mean for local advertisers?  It’s critically important to have a unified strategy to deal with whatever media types are being used.  While a majority of local businesses may only advertise on the newspaper website and not in print, it does not rule out countless other forms of media: radio, television, yellow pages, e-mail, billboard and more.

In order to get the best ROI, creative versioning is essential to coordinating the message the local business wants to present.  90% of local businesses are either branded branches of a national brand or resell national brands – incorporating national brands and themes into local campaigns is critical to capitalizing on the efforts of national brands.

What is Creative Versioning?

April 28, 2008

We often get asked, “What is creative versioning?”   Quite simply, creative versioning is the creation of multiple versions of the same marketing piece or advertisement but customized either for media outlet, demographic target or geographic location, to name a few common version types.

While this may not seem to be a big deal, imagine creating hundreds of versions of the same piece, but with slightly different dimensions for multiple newspapers.  This is exactly what happens at most advertising agencies that create advertisements for most clients.  It is very expensive and time consuming because a graphic designer needs to manually create each advertisement for each size.

Creative versioning automation tools end the need for a graphic designer to create multiple versions.  With automated creative versioning tools like LiveAdMaker, one set of rules is established for a piece and then the content follows the rules to stretch and shrink to the desired sizes and selected content.

Using creative versioning tools like LiveAdMaker, companies can execute campaigns faster (because it only takes a few minutes to create a high-resolution piece) and they can have more control over the content that is featured.  For a retailer like Macy’s or Wal-Mart, not all stores will need to feature the same items on sale, therefore traditional manual versioning is inadequate for today’s needs.  With automated creative versioning, retailers, and anyone who needs marketing materials, can finally make on the fly updates to marketing materials, selling the most relevant product at the best price for the local market.

You can learn more about LiveAdMaker at LiveTechnology.com or LiveAdMaker.com