Sunday, September 28, 2014

Advertising Week 2014: Technology rules

The ad world is revving up for Advertising Week 2014. The official promotion and media coverage, in the week before, focuses relentlessly on the tech / digital issues.  One does (at least a little) wonder if anybody is going to pay attention to "content." All those new digital channels have to distribute something, after all. We look forward to discussions about what will be the effective content for the new varieties of digital media.  (After all, just because you CAN deliver content, doesn't mean it sells anything.)

The Wall Street Journal (posting Sunday afternoon, Sept 28) foresees Advertising Week 2014 to provide a vision for how digital media will increasingly dominate the ad spend: "Digital Media to Take Center Stage at Advertising Week." The Journal expects the news (and the chatter) to focus on the technology of distribution rather than the power of brand: "Talk at the swanky cocktail parties is likely to revolve around things that didn't even exist a decade ago, from BuzzFeed and Instagram to programmatic ad buying and marketing cloud. The chatter over canapes will entail an alphabet soup of new marketing jargon such as DSP, SSP, DMP and RTB. . . . It is a far cry from the first Advertising Week, 11 years ago, when much of the talk among ad executives was whether the prize for fan-favorite ad icon would go to Tony the Tiger or the M&M characters."

The New York Times (also posting on Sunday afternoon, Sept 28) sees Advertising Week 2014 to offer a referendum on the future of television: "Advertising Week 2014: Exploring the Future of Television.".  The Times' perspective is consistent with the WSJ, but provides a view of the continuum from the recent past to the uncertain future -- as consumers evolve in their screen-behaviors -- away from TV (some of the time, for some consumers): "A debate that is likely to generate heat, if not light, is whether rapid, large increases in digital ad spending by marketers,prompted by shifts in how viewers watch video, mean a concomitant decline in spending for commercial time on traditional television." . . . According to the 2014 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, the use of digital media is growing strongly among affluent Americans but not at the expense of traditional media like television. 'Digital media is supplementing, not supplanting,' Stephen Kraus, chief insights officers for the Audience Measurement Group of Ipsos MediaCT said."

The following is an excerpt from the Advertising Week / Stillwell Partners media release issued September 23:

"Extended thought leadership content tracks dig deep into industry hot buttons including: Programmatic, Mobile, Data, Video, Innovation, Local, Health, Fitness & Wearables, Retail Innovation, Sports, Native Ads, Cross-Screen and Social Influence. The Advertising Week Experience (AWE) also returns featuring nearly 100 start-ups that represent the front lines of technological innovation, which is re-shaping the industry, in real time.

"Additional highlights:
  • Grand Central Terminal hosts the Opening Gala, in partnership with Amazon Media Group
  • The Wall Street Journal launches Disruption, a new evening event
  • Fortune stages a special edition of Brainstorm TECH
  • Randall Rothenberg leads IAB's annual MIXX Conference
  • CMOs and CEOs take center stage throughout The Week along with a "State of the Industry" series featuring more than a dozen major trade associations
  • The Pandora Battle of the Ad Bands returns to the Highline Ballroom
  • Rovio's Angry Birds Transformers Party, returns to Arena
"New and returning corporate and media partners for Advertising Week 2014 include: AARP, Acxiom, Adara, Adobe, Amazon Media Group, Amobee, AOL, AT&T AdWorks, BuzzFeed, Centaur, Exponential, Facebook, Fast Company, Fortune, Getty Images, Google, Keek, LinkedIn, Marketo, Mashable, Mediaocean, Microsoft, Millennial Media, MLB Advanced Media, NBCUniversal, NCC Media, New York Market Radio, The New York Times, Nielsen, OpenX, Pandora, Precision Marketing Insights from Verizon, Purch, PwC, RadiumOne, Rovio, Rubicon Project, Tasting Table, The Wall Street Journal, The Weather Channel, true[X], Turn, Quiver, Univision, USA Today, WebMD, Yahoo, yp, and many more."

Other developments to watch for:

"Will Facebook Announce New Atlas Advertising Platform at Advertising Week 2014?"

The Yellow Pages will "take over" Grand Central Terminal.

The Drum will try to shock you.  (Anybody out there still shock-able?)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wiki coping

Public relations practitioners often face the conundrum (frustration) of a client's / organization's Wikipedia entry being wrong or damaging. Prof. Marcia DiStasio at Penn State has been involved for the past few years in a number of initiatives to empower PR professionals responsibly to participate in the wiki ecosystem.

This post at the Institute for Public Relations site provides links through to useful, specific guidelines and insights.

PR research coming of age

September 15 - 19, 2014 was the observance of the first global public relations Measurement Week. The initiative was led by the London-based AMEC (International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication), the U.S.-based Institute for Public Relations, a number of the leading research services providers  (BurrellesLuce, Cision, Gorkana, Kantar, PRIME, and Vocus), and a handful of the global PR agencies, and it was the culmination of nearly a decade of the efforts of the public relations industry to grapple with the demands for better analytics in media and marketing services.

The PR industry -- like advertising and the news and entertainment media -- has faced enormous challenges to its business model in the face of the impact of digital technologies. Yet PR had always stood apart -- or trailed behind? -- other marketing and media sectors in demonstrating its impact. The PR profession often justified its contributions with vague concepts such as "buzz," "impressions," "advertising value equivalency," and "reputation." As inadequate as the standard metrics had been for advertising and media, PR offered nothing comparable for consistency.

The challenge from large corporations' procurement departments for an industry standards for marketing communications services return on investment (ROI) metrics, especially after the 2008 recession, coalesced with inklings about the potential to link communications acts to transactions, transparently, with new digital media.

The September 2014 Measurement Week is a strong indication of how far the PR industry has come to meet these challenges in two dimensions: 1) providing the analytics that business demands at the same time as 2) creating consensus with the global PR industry around methods, terminology, and standards.

The third edition of the Dictionary for PR Measurement and Research, published by the Institute for Public Relations, and edited by Prof. Don Stacks at the University of Miami and Prof. Shannon Bowen at the University of South Carolina, is now widely accepted as the authority on PR research  terminology definitions.

AMEC has rallied consensus among corporations, research services providers, and PR agencies in a number of initiatives, most notably its campaign against "advertising value equivalency," first aggressively asserted in the 2010 Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles.

In the past three years, a coalition of communications associations has undertaken aggressive efforts to articulate standards and best practices for monitoring and analytics of both traditional and new digital media communications. The Coalition for PR Research Standards has the active participation and endorsement of the Council of Public Relations Firms, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the Institute for Public RelationsAMEC, and the Public Relations Society of America.  Simultaneously, an overlapping group was formed, The Social Media Measurement Conclave, which has met and articulated new industry standards for social media measurement methodologies -- with the hearty endorsement from opinion-leading corporations such as Southwest Airlines, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Cisco, McDonalds, and Thompson Reuters.

Finally, The Institute of Public Relations has created a new PR Research Standards Center dedicated to sustaining industry consensus and providing content and initiatives to support PR education (both academic and professional) related to the newly articulated standards.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The State of the Union -- between words and images

On January 28, 2014 President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union speech. Setting aside partisanship relating to the President and his advocated policies, this speech is still likely to go down in the history of professional communications as a new milestone in professional communicators’ responsiveness to new consumer media-consumption realities.

If you watched the January 28th State of the Union speech on network television (or some other version of “old media”), you missed the real news.   For those of you who missed it, provided an “enhanced live-stream” of the speech – comprised of the live streaming of the speech, on the left side of the split screen, and periodically, on the right side of the split screen, infographics and photos that exemplify best practices of presentation method effectiveness. 

And – by the way – if you chose to watch the “enhanced live-stream” not in the full-screen mode, then you also got a series of the Obama machine’s live tweets to read underneath the split screen.  The tweet-stream also included highly-charged emotional images and simplified graphics.

If the Obama machine won the 2012 election because of a mastery of Big Data, they also won the 2014 State of the Union because of the mastery of the implications of state-of-the-art Infographics.

The bar has been set higher for multimedia / integrated communications for executive speech-making from today on.  Here are the standards for the future for a “best practice” speech:

1) The speech is live-streamed (the talking head part)

2) The setting for the live-streaming has been stage-designed to include all those supportive people and tableaus (the entrepreneurs, the military veterans, the beneficiaries of government programs, etc.)

3) The split-screen format provides graphics, images, etc. which illustrate and provide visual cues and emphasis beyond what the video recording of the live event can provide.

4) The smart use of presentation graphics must exemplify the most current and tested methods for PowerPoint-category software and other presentation methodologies.  When the most important points are being made by the speaker, there are no graphics: focus only on the face and voice of the speaker (making the emotional connection). The graphics never repeat exactly (but complement) the speaker.  And the speaker never, never, never reads the “slides.”

5) If your audience processes information better in “bits” and “tweets” – you can provide it with a live-stream of tweets echoing the live/videoed event.  

A successful speech (live communication) must now be well written and delivered; stage-managed; supported with best-practice graphics; layered with live-streamed social media posts.

The production and presentation of the 2014 State of the Union speech did not present any breakthroughs. But the production and presentation of the speech did incorporate all the best practices that all of us in PR, advertising, and social media pros already know about. The level of execution and preparation sets the new standard.

This post also appeared
on January 29, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What I learned in the first semester about integrated communications

In the fall of 2013, the City College of New York (CCNY) Media and Communication Arts Department (MCA) commenced a new undertaking of exploration and education forthe future of professional branding and integrated communications

Who (vaguely referenced in that opening sentence) actually undertook this “exploration”?

A handful of full-time senior faculty, scholars and practitioners with careers in advertising and PR behind them. Another handful of adjunct professors from some of the top advertising and marketing communications agencies in New York City. Yet another handful of advertising and PR industry advisers – senior executives of leading New York agencies and global marketing services groups (top management from Y&R, Ketchum, GroupM, and Finn Partners). And thirty students – the CCNY Branding + Integrated Communications Master of Professional Studies Class of 2015 – a diverse group of young professionals, some of whom worked at ad agencies, some for social service and government agencies, some for NGOs, some for media buying and services agencies, and some right out of their Bachelor’s degree programs; young professionals from Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Fiji, France, Russia, Thailand – and from California, Illinois, and South Carolina -- and from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.

Looking back at this momentous first semester of our exploration branding and integrated communications, I am fairly certain that I have learned as much – but maybe not all the same things – as our students..
  • Integrated marketing has arrived. The young, aggressive professional in the field today presumes that integrated marketing communications is the norm. The “battles” between advertising and PR are their grandfathers’ battles – not only irrelevant, not even on their radar screen. And social and digital communications are not something separate from traditional media; for these young professionals the virtual-physical dichotomy isn’t useful. The young communications professionals with which we are working want to move markets, empower ideas, and advance causes. The old marketing communications silos are just not theirs – they are totally in sync with the most forward-thinking senior managers and communications thought leaders at the global agencies, corporations, and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Integrated marketing as practiced in the U.S.A. – and in New York City – remains a global magnet for talent. Of course, there has been, and continues to be, vast turmoil in the technological changes and business models of American media companies and American marketing services providers. But this evolution (“turmoil” for the finance people and the investors) is still, more than ever, a dynamic cauldron for young professionals. Our students (from Queens or Cameroon) are preparing to assume important roles in global media services in the future – whether their future desks rest in Calgary or Bangkok or Paris. They have come to New York to be at an epicenter of where the future of is emergent. Of course, there are many, many brilliant, competent, and effective professionals in marketing communications working outside of New York, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Paris, Sydney, Cape Town, and a few other obvious mature media capitals. But the lure (and the physical, sensual allure) of the world’s media centers has not been eroded at all by global distributed markets and digital technologies.
  • Marketing communications practice and education still lags behind other professions in evidence- and data-driven processes and decision-making. Even as the CCNY BIC students studied with the best -- with Belle Frank, EVP of Global Research and Strategy at Y&R and heard guest lectures from Google and other leaders in data-driven domains, it remained clear to us how far most students and practitioners of advertising and public relations yet have to go fully to participate meaningfully in 21st century strategic communications. It’s not that our students have extraordinary deficits; it is that the bar is raised higher, continuously, for how analytics will contribute to insight and policy formation. This work is just begun. What’s “cool,” ultimately, doesn’t matter. What works? What changes minds and the world? What increases assets (what makes money) in the real world?
  • Integrated communications isn’t just about message delivery technologies and systems. Our students gravitate toward integrated marketing not just because of the hybridization of media technologies. They naturally presume that integrated communications entails a full, strategically aligned integration of marketing, customer relationship management, financial communications, community relations, corporate social responsibility, policy advocacy, and employee communications. Our students demonstrate a mindset that presumes and accepts that “the whole world is watching.” 

Second semester looms ahead.

This post also appears
January 5, 2014