Advertising Technology

Republicans For Sale On EBay


I’ll get to the Republicans on EBay in a moment. Bear with me, please.

While it sounds like a 27 dollar word, “dynamic contextual advertising” is really quite simple.

Dynamic contextual online advertising is advertising that is selected from an existing inventory of ads based on the content of a web site, including a blog like this one. The ads are selected as your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc) displays the content for you or another viewer.

Let’s say you sell Rotary pins and logo’d shirts. If I purchased “Rotary” as a keyword for a dynamic contextual ad on this site, the word “Rotary” on this page would be underlined as shown above. If you clicked on it, it might go to my Rotary pins and shirts online store. Note: I don’t have a Rotary pins and shirts online store. Russell-Hampton does just fine with that.

I stumbled across a blog today that was talking about politics and government. While reading, I noticed across this rather comical, but ineffective contextual ad (see the image above). Apparently, no one has listed any Democrats on Ebay, at least not yet, since “Democrats” didn’t have a contextual link. Frankly, if I was shopping for these items I wouldn’t start at EBay. They’d be much easier to find at or, but I digress:)

Ok, let’s get serious. Is this the kind of contextual advertising a small business owner wants to pay real money for? I doubt it.

The lesson? Be very careful before buying stuff like this. To borrow a phrase from a politician, you have to be focused like a laser beam on the keywords you select when deciding to buy dynamic contextual advertising. It does work, but like any other method of advertising, you have to buy smart.

Advertising Corporate America Media

Mommy’s got a server

mommy's new serverMicrosoft’s new Home Server is of little interest to me, but their marketing always is. They have a campaign at that includes a children’s book to explain why mommy and daddy have a new server.

Parts of it are a little odd, but the concept is interesting.

How can you apply something similar to your business?

Advertising Competition Marketing Media

What gives GoDaddy their tight grip on the domain name jugular?

Fox Business Channel recently aired a segment about controversial domain registrar GoDaddy, who generates lots of PR buzz in the months surrounding the SuperBowl, simply by virtue of their risque commercials.

Fox’s story tries to give you the impression that the bawdy commercials are what make GoDaddy’s market share a whopping 42% of the domain registrar business.

I disagree.

Sure, the Hooters-esque commercials will get guys, their biggest demographic, to the site. And sure, this traffic will likely pump up their sales for a brief period of time. But that isn’t enough to keep that business. Domain services are serious business for those who buy them.

Without his company’s attention to performance, pricing and service in this competitive market, the real boob would be GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons.

Clearly, GoDaddy’s performance shows that they know they have to back it up, with none of the legendary BS that registrars like Network Associates have been infamous for.

Daddy might get you in the door on that first job, but you have to earn the right to stay there.

Advertising Corporate America

When the Whopper went away

Last month, a Burger King in Vegas took part in the setup for an ad campaign by pretending to no longer offer Whoppers at their store. When people asked, they were told that “The Home of the Whopper” no longer sells them.

Those reactions resulted in surprised, sometimes annoyed customers who claimed to have eaten them all their lives. Great stuff, if you’re the King.

During the campaign, they video taped the reactions of customers who were given Big Macs, Wendy’s burgers etc – from behind the counter.

Needless to say, all the videos in the commercials are showing annoyed customers, upset that they got a Big Mac or whatever instead of “their Whopper”, who later appear relieved and amused when they eventually have the joke revealed to them – sometimes by the BK mascot, “The King”.

At one point, the manager of the store actually asks a customer (at 1min 45 secs into the video): “Level of one to ten, how pissed were you guys were when you heard?” (that the Whopper wasn’t on the menu anymore).

Note the unusual characteristics of this big corporate campaign:

  • It’s actually funny.
  • It’s also filmed “reality TV style”, to fit in with what more and more people are familiar with.
  • It’s clearly measurable, since they can track the change in Whopper sandwich sales during the campaign.
  • They actually had the nerve to do it, not fake doing it (at least that’s the appearance).

Completely refreshing.

Absent perhaps the level of video production expense that BK went to, how can you use this technique at your store?

Advertising Corporate America Marketing Strategy Technology

Big business figures out segmentation & measurement?

Typically, we donâ??t see serious direct response marketing (Kennedy-style) segmentation and measurement activity out of big corporate.

But that may be changing – not only by recognizing the value, but by seeing action taking place.

Last month, a business owner in Billings received a dark chocolate sample pack (co-op advertising with the manufacturer). The sender was the local grocery store, a national chain.

While they didn’t personalize the mailing like a local retailer should, they clearly had paid attention to what was on their sales demographics, by using checkout data when this person used their loyalty card at the grocery store, then segmenting using that data when doing their mailing. Again, another reason why YOU should have a loyalty/reward card system in place – even the grocery chains have figured this out.

Even large corporates are recognizing the necessity of direct response marketing.

In “Beyond Loyalty, Meeting the Challenge of Customer Engagement” (2007), the Economist (Magazine) Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Adobe, noted these numbers in research done with CEOs.

A few findings from this document:

  • More than 80% of C-level executives believe their company loses sales each year because of their failure to engage customers.
  • 47% said that the difficulty of measuring customer engagement is the biggest barrier to achieving greater levels of engagement.

Anyone in direct response revels in those numbers. We already know that most big corporations either don’t get this, or don’t do much about it if they do get it.

More info about the research:

A slide show from WebTrends based on this paper can be found at and a white paper on the same topic at

The first 7-8 minutes of the video cover some things that any direct response marketer should already be well aware of, but it is interesting to see them applied by a large consumer brand company for a change.

The rest of the video is a light pitch for WebTrends and their tool’s ability to help apply this “new language of marketing” (as WebTrends calls it, though it isn’t new to anyone in the direct response world, of course).

Still, it’s a worthwhile example that discusses the why of knowing your customers better than anyone, and how that can be valuable.

Let the pitch come, as the points made as they get to that point are certainly worthwhile and applicable in a direct response marketing world. Take in the direct response marketing lesson, and go apply it.

Measure and segment.  And keep at it.

Advertising Marketing Media Strategy

The “Do Not Call” list is a PLUS for smart businesses

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Wendy Bounds wrote a column about why the “Do Not Call” list doesn’t stifle your business.

I’d take it one step further. The “Do Not Call” list is actually GOOD for smart businesses.

Why? Because all the marketers who aren’t paying attention will just look at their feet and sing “Woe is me” about losing another media. Yes, the telephone is effectively, just another media.

The thing is, cold calling is one of the worst medias there is.

  • You don’t have a warm prospect.
  • You don’t have an appointment.
  • You’re interrupting whoever picks up, more often than not.

What about that says “I just lost a good prospect”?

People HATE cold telemarketing calls. Some people even seem to hate it when their credit card company calls to verify a charge – and those are people trying to protect you (and themselves), they aren’t even selling anything.

The smart business finds a better way to use the phone.

Pre-recorded messages that help your prospects / clients.

Inbound phone answerers who answer the phone and know what they are talking about. Not press 1,2,0,1,1,267 and then hold down the 0 key to get a person who you can’t understand very well.

Chasing a prospect results in the same thing that chasing anything else does: the prospect running away.

Cold calling is sometimes compared to direct mail, but there is little to compare.

  • Cold calling forces the prospect to deal with you on YOUR schedule. Direct mail is opened on their schedule.
  • People answer the phone because it rings (or not, more likely these days). Direct mail gets opened because it was done right and looks like something interesting.
  • The cold caller takes action on your marketing message by getting torqued at you and hanging up. The person who gets your direct mail has to take action to show they are interested, otherwise it’s a simple toss-it-in-the-trash thing.
  • Cold calling is all about interruptions. Direct mail interrupts nothing.
  • Cold calling is about selling to someone who doesn’t think they want what you have, looking for a way to say no or just hang up. Direct mail only attracts the interested party, a person warmed up to the idea of your product or service, looking for reasons to buy, or say yes. Looking to solve a problem, fill a need, or satisfy a want. Cold calling does none of that unless you just get lucky.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to generate warm leads other than direct mail, but if you think about it, any sort of lead generation process (like direct mail) is an ATTRACTION process. Cold calling is anything but. Replace “direct mail” with your favorite attraction marketing method or media in the above list and you’ll likely find that it works just fine.

Lead generation marketing attracts qualified people who are interested, not ticked off people who  waste your time on the phone and get annoyed with you before they might become interested.

Let the other person complain about the Do Not Call list hurting their business.  Meanwhile, go out there and sell something to the person your marketing attracted.

Advertising Marketing Scouting Strategy

What holiday generates the 2nd highest spending by adults?

Halloween (yes, Valentine’s Day is first).

Obviously we’re not including Christmas, which is head and shoulders spending-wise ahead of both of those days. I don’t figure I have to advise anyone to market their business around Christmas, particularly since Wal-Mart has had lights and ornaments out since last May, or at least it seems like it’s been that long:)

No matter what kind of business you own, you can take advantage of Halloween in some fashion, have a little fun and generate some PR. Oh yeah – and make some sales!

The obvious thing is for you and your staff to dress up on Halloween, but that doesn’t help you much if you don’t have a retail or service business where the public is in and out of your store all day.

If you do ask your staff to dress up, be sure and provide them with Do’s and Don’ts well in advance so they can make good choices and still enjoy the fun. Some costumes might create safety issues in your workplace, and some people always need a little reminder of what is and isn’t tasteful. You more than likely don’t want your VP of Consumer Loans coming to the bank dressed up like Madonna or Britney. Too much information:)

Everyone has options if they plan ahead a little. You still have time if you hurry, and can include Halloween-related marketing in your print, direct mail and radio ads.

The themes should be obvious. An accountant can have their staff dress up like some scary creature (a politician comes to mind<g>) and put a headline on their ad that says “Scared of paying too much of your hard-earned money to the IRS?” and then proceed to describe and make an offer.

An attorney might send a mailer to their clients reminding them that a hard deadline (December 31, for example) is coming soon and include a picture or clip art of the Grim Reaper, or similar character.

An quick lube oil change store could show their staff dressed up as creatures down in the bay below the vehicles and talk about the dungeon and how they are ready to keep your car in tip top shape so that you don’t get stuck on the side of the road, only to be caught by the boogeyman.

An on-site event at your store or service location is another obvious, but rarely used, idea. People have live remotes with a radio station all the time. Rarely do they have any fun with them and make them interesting and worth driving across town to attend. You could make this a customer appreciation event as well. It won’t be long before the hectic season is here, may as well do it now and start a tradition.

Obviously, you can make these ads, events and offers as edgy or sedate as you like – just try to have some fun with them. Even the clients of accountants and lawyers like fun stuff.

Be absolutely sure to craft these offers so that you know how much business comes from your day of silliness. You might find that you want to do these kinds of things more often.  You want to know what works and what doesn’t, even the fun stuff.

Even if your business doesn’t appear to have much synergy with Halloween (or has a different idea of fun), it’s easy to turn it around and still make use of the day.

For example, if you own a store that offers religious goods/services, you may have some clients who wouldn’t appreciate it if your staff came to work in costumes and festooned the store with black and orange, goblins and ghosts. Only you know your clientèle well enough to decide what you should and shouldn’t do. Still, do something.

There’s no reason why you couldn’t provide a fun alternative. Perhaps the staff arrives for work dressed as their favorite person from the Bible. Or you have your own version of a Haunted House, with a religious theme. And obviously not scary, but instead a lesson, scene or room from your favorite story.

There’s room for almost every business to do something with Halloween, you just have to put a little thought into it. And don’t stop with Halloween. There’s a trick or treat bag full of holidays and other special days between now and March (see, even I can do it).

Advertising Media

Dubai anti-smoking newspaper ad mocks 9/11

If you’ve read here long, you know I’m not shy about pointing out boring advertising.

Note that not being boring doesn’t mean you have to be tasteless.

This ad ran as a public service ad on 9/11 in the Khaleej Times, the leading English newspaper in Dubai.

Impactful? Hard to deny.

Tasteless as hell? No question.


Advertising Competition Marketing Strategy

Why big corporate is SO easy to market against.

I hear all the time about how the big, bad box stores and large companies are “tough” or “impossible” to compete against.

That’s a little bit true, but only if you are looking at it totally backwards.

How do you define success in your community-based retail store? Grossing 2MM a year or bankrupting Wal-Mart?

If it’s the latter, please inhale and exhale a little bit more often:)

Is Wal-Mart bankruptable? Sure.

Advertising Marketing Media Strategy

Pig blood & deer, or How to fix an unsuccessful advertisement

hidear.jpgEver try to keep the deer out of your yard, garden or especially, your raspberry patch?

Here in the boonies, it’s a serious problem. Deer are everywhere. They love your ornamental trees, roses and whatever happens to be the most expensive plant in your yard or garden. They never seem to eat the dandelions.

My forestry friends tell me that spraying pig blood on the plants will run the deer off, but that isn’t an option if you want your garden to smell like the flowers you planted in it. Trust me.

Kinda like the drugs on TV these days, pig blood has unwanted side effects: It’s nasty smelling stuff – and that’s the good part. The bad part is that it’s like sending a dinner invitation to every bear in the area. The upside is that it doesn’t cause diarrhea and “personal malfunctions” (at least I dont think so, I haven’t asked the deer).

Today, I came home from running errands to find a herd of them out by the trampoline. I took this photo from the car window – if you look closely at the picture, you’ll see 5 deer. 1 more little guy is out of the frame to the right.

Apparently a guy in a Suburban with a big dog in the back is of little concern to the deer, they’ve seen it all before.

Once a deer gets used to you, the car and the dog – it’s like you aren’t even there. They just go about their business until you make a move toward them. Unless you do something to really get their attention, you may as well be talking to a teenager.

Marketing is that way too.