Obama 2012 And The Future Of Media Buying

June 20, 2013

2012-01-26_1327587338This is an awfully long article to slog through, but it was from the NYT Magazine, so I guess the long form is understandable.

The callout on the article “The Obama Campaign’s Digital Masterminds Cash In” is mostly true to form – focusing on the people and personalities involved – but somewhere around page 5 (can’t believe I got that far) it grabbed my interest.

Behavioral TV Ad Buying; It’s Time to Ditch Demographics

The Obama campaign used social data to guide their media buying.  They had a list of 15 MM persuadable voters (culled from FB and other sources) and a plan to focus on putting messages in front of those 15 MM people at the lowest possible cost.

They did not do this with demographics.  They did it with behavioral data.  They crossed the “persuadable voter list” with actual viewing data sourced from set-top box data provider Rentrak who had lots and lots of individual level viewing data.  (For instance, Rentrak had 100,000 people in its Denver sample, some 20,000 of whom were on the Obama list; Nielsen had a total of 600 people in Denver.)

They crossed these two data sources using a third-party to “anonymize” the data, avoiding privacy concerns.  The output guided them to buying micro-targeted ads – think “Judge Joe Brown” in the middle of the afternoon instead of the evening news.  The Obama campaign ran twice as many cable ads on more that twice as many channels as the Romney campaign did.  Over 566k ads on more than 100 cable channels.

Remember the key driver for this optimization – observed behavior – not demographics.  They identified 15 MM persuadable voters (mostly via Facebook) and then figured out exactly which TV shows those people watched.

Implications for marketers are obvious.  The technology is available for behavioral segmentation (persuadable voters) and targeting (what shows they actually watch) right now.  All marketers will be doing this within 10 years, but who will do it now to drive competitive advantage?



The Problem in Social Media Marketing

February 9, 2010

Have you seen the 2010 edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer? I have – and frankly, it has me worried. Specifically the precipitous drop in trust among friends/peers is a concern. I think this drop in trust has three root causes.

In the AdAge article about this, Richard Edelman attributes this drop in trust to a “sign of the times” and I agree that’s a contributing factor, but there is much more to this plunge. I think it’s a direct result of social media marketing. Yes, the mere fact of abusing SM channels (which are p to p conversational channels) with marketing messages causes everyone participating to trust less. Finally, the definition of what a “friend” is has been bastardized by Twitter, FB, etc.

I am a hardliner on “pay-per-post” and “crowds-for-hire” to go out and review things – I just think it is wrong. The term “Sponsored Conversation” is an oxymoron.

I think commercial endorsements (especially outside of their specific field of expertise) are bad for big bloggers, even if it does get them paid. It makes me (and everyone else) think less of them. I don’t think much of “influencer marketing” schemes.

Our business (MotiveQuest) depends on people having real, organic, honest conversations with each other on the web. We collect and analyze these conversations to understand why people do what they do. Our clients pay for these ideas, insights and recommendations to help grow their business. This only works if we don’t WRECK social media by using it to try to sell stuff to people.

Tom O’Brien

Brand positioning 2.0

November 10, 2009

Nice blog post about brand positioning in the post-cluetrain world by Francois Gossieaux over at EmergenceMarketing.

Led me to contribute a rather over-long comment about how we (MotiveQuest LLC) approach brand positioning questions for our clients today.

In the old days we had a product with rational and emotional benefits, and we made up a story and then pounded this story into people’s heads with $$$ (advertising). This worked pretty well until the fragmentation of mass media and the rise of the networked individual.

Today the way to approach this question is to first understand (using MotiveQuest of course – online anthropology) what people care about most. Then examine what they already believe to be true about your brand and your competitors. Finally, you figure out how to connect your brand to what people are passionate about in an authentic (consistent with what they already believe to be true) compelling (relevant to what they are passionate about) and helpful (helps them achieve their goals, not yours) way.

Everyone says that branding is more like politics today, but that is because it’s true. You should always connect to something passionate and true (it’s the economy stupid).


Communities don’t care about brands

April 23, 2009

Does that seem like a provocative title? Well it kind-of is. Communities do care about brands, but perhaps not in the way you like to think. Communities are self organizing groups of like-minded people who gather to share information, opinions, and suggestions, make friends, get together, etc. Sometimes, a brand sits at the center of the community, but more often it doesn’t

(Here’s my deck on How Communities Work.)

We have done hundreds of projects over the last 6 years harvesting and analyzing community conversations to understand why people do what they do. Across all these projects, brand mentions are typically a fraction of all the community conversation. In food, brand mentions are in less than 5% of the conversations. In a highly brand involved community, like cars or cellphones brand mentions are rarely in more than 30% of the conversations.

If you are “brand monitoring” then you are missing between 70% and 95% of the relevant conversation.

If you (Mr. Brand) want to “connect” with communities what you need to do is study community issues, motivations and drivers first. Once you understand the community motivations, then you are ready to participate. Just remember this rule of thumb. Everything you (Mr. Brand) do in the community should go through the filter of community motivations.

Are you serving the community or are you using the community?



Viral Marketing is Stupid

June 19, 2008

I have to give credit to Duncan Watts on this one.   His presentation at iCitizen a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about viral marketing. His forest fire analogy brought it home for me.

Forest fires start and stop all the time. There are thousands of forest fires every year. Only a few of them become the monster forest fires we see on TV consuming homes and acreage in vast quantities. How are these few mega-fires different from the thousands of small ones? Is it because they started from a really “special” tree? (An influential tree perhaps??)

No. The mega-fires started in a place and at a time where fuel, weather and other conditions were precisely right, and continued to be precisely right to grow into a TV-worthy blaze.

What does that have to do with viral marketing? Well, do you think the Coke-Mentos phenomenon was planned by an agency? Do you think the Blend-Tec videos were planned by an agency? NO, they just happened to appear in the right place at the right time with the right content. And they took off.

Viral marketing is like a baseball team trying to win all their games with home runs.


Figure 1: Credit – Exp. Flickr

Social Media Winner

June 12, 2008

Story in yesterday’s WSJ

When Dogs and Robots Collide, Somebody Needs a Talking To

Fascinating story about the relationship between dogs and robots:

“The trouble started when Mr. Hearn first turned on his Roomba automatic cleaner. When the device started scooting around the floor, Mr. Hearn’s dog, Argos, attacked it.

Seeking help, Mr. Hearn found an online forum dedicated to the hundred-dollar Roomba buzzing with similar stories of pet assailants. Owners were offering advice. Among the most popular: Chastise the vacuum in front of the dog.

And so, with Argos looking on, Mr. Hearn shook his finger at his gadget and sternly called it “a bad Roomba.” Argos appeared to be mollified. “After that, he never tried nipping at it again,” says Mr. Hearn, a software engineer in San Carlos, Calif.”

I am listing this as a social media winner, because Roomba was smart enough to get out of the way and let it’s customers do what they wanted with the brand – and guess what – they ended up with a picture on the front page of the WSJ and were the most emailed story in the WSJ yesterday.

Wow – I would challenge any agency to plan that campaign!


The Ball Was Dropped!

May 23, 2008

Hmmm, seems like Royal Ccarbbean could have embraced this couple and really turned things around – made someone who is already a HUGE customer into an even more rabid fan. Why not hire her and make her the Director of Onboard Customer Experience? Opportunity missed!

Banned from Royal Caribbean for complaining too much

Companies have to learn how to act like human beings when these kinds of things happen. How about a public sorry and here’s your free cruise next time and we’ll make a commercial about you.

Try it, you’ll like it – and profit from it.