Thursday, July 28, 2011

A coda to my previous post


"Big Data" and a little sleuthing

A recent McKinsey study entitled “Big Data” (tweeted by my friend and former colleague, Tim Suther of Acxiom) provides some eye-watering statistics about data.  To pick one, “15 out of 17 sectors in the United States have more data stored per company than the US Library of Congress.”  The embarrassment of riches forces us to ask: “what are we doing with all these data?”

You probably know that old joke that if you love sausage or you love the law, you shouldn’t watch either of them being made.  The same joke holds true for marketing data; you may love it, but you might not want to see how it’s made.

Scratch that.  If you love marketing data, you SHOULD see how it’s made.  Perhaps if by-the-numbers marketers really understood their data, they would agree with my mantra: don’t over-measure.

Let me give you a brief example.  In a previous job, a travel client asked me to analyze its loyalty database to understand more about their members--where they lived, what languages they spoke and so on.  (Side note: I’m not telling tales out of school here; I have worked with six different travel clients in my time.  Feel free to guess which one I discuss here, though.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Close but no cigar: Subaru

Here’s a quick example of translinear marketing done half-right.

Subaru sponsors “Run For Your Lives,” described as “a zombie infested 5K obstacle course race.”  They produced a video to promote the sponsorship.

The video sets up the premise pretty cleanly.  It can’t be a coincidence that it runs :30 seconds on the (chewed-off) nose.  That length works well not only on TV, should they decide to run it there, but also makes for a quick view online.

The video also hits all the right brand notes: it promotes the WRX model, a turbocharged, four-wheel-drive compact beloved by males pretty much from infancy through their early 30s.  Again, no coincidence that this demographic enjoys the zombie meme so prevalent in culture for the past few years.  On top of that, it’s funny.

Welcome. Thanks for visiting.

Welcome to Translinear, a blog where I’ll look at marketing not from an above-the-line perspective, nor from a below-the-line perspective but instead from what I call a through-the-line perspective.

Huh?  Whazzat?  Come again?

Among marketers, above-the-line marketing generally refers to communications and channels that build brands, including TV, print, outdoor and other mass media.  Below-the-line, on the other hand, refers to communications and channels that drive immediate sales such as direct mail, coupons and search engine marketing.  (Other interactive media can fall on either side of the line, depending on how marketers use them.)

In theory, both types of marketing have the same main objective: to sell.  However, brand and direct marketers, in practice, all but come from different planets.  Brand marketers talk about persuasion and cultural relevance.  Direct marketers talk about conversion rates and response numbers.

I think both sides of line have some of it right and some of it wrong.  At the risk of making creative directors cry, I think that brand folks don’t do enough to measure their ads.  At the risk of inviting punishment from the DMA, I think that direct folks focus too much on the measurement and not enough on what they really mean.  More to the point, the Capulets and the Montagues will probably settle their feud before the brand and direct folks do.

I’ll elaborate as I write, but for the sake of an elevator pitch, think of me at the grand unified theorist of marketing.

First, some ground rules:

  • For competitive reasons, I won’t talk about my current clients
  • For discretion, I won’t call out former clients if they did something less-than-stellar
  • I’ll try to keep it brief and frequent, but excuse me if I need to fly off the handle
  • I’m moderating comments for your protection

About me:

I’ve spent 18 years in and around the advertising agency world, having helped develop communications strategy for every medium from TV to disposable cups.  Currently, I’m Vice President/Group Strategy Director for RAPP, an Omnicom agency.  I enjoy the singular pleasure of living and working in New York City.

You can also find me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

I hope to hear from you.