Surviving Innovation

Throughout my professional career, innovation has always been the focus of the environment around me. Although it can often be an abused term, this proximity to groups aspiring to be innovative taught me a lot about this elusive concept. Recently, I started reflecting on some commonalities that I encountered when dealing with innovative companies, products, and teams, and I thought it could be interesting sharing them in a post.

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How to plan effective digital marketing campaigns

With the constant proliferation of new media channels and technologies, content consumption patterns have radically changed. Each channel offers a different interaction model with the users, and as a result, we live in a (media) world where a given metric takes a different meaning depending on the publisher. Let’s take for example video views: Facebook counts a view when at least one pixel is visible for 3 seconds (without sound), YouTube after 30 seconds of play time, Snapchat 1 second, and many publishers still could count a view when a video is playing below the fold. Continue reading

Don’t call it Performance Marketing

“Performance marketing” vs. “Brand marketing”

There is this weird distinction in the advertising industry between “performance marketing” and “brand marketing”, where the former usually refers to the highly-trackable, data-driven spend, where the other is awareness-creation, emotions-driving, hard-to-measure-impact kind of spend: the most obvious example of the two are SEM and TV advertising. Continue reading

Some thoughts on the ‘hot topics’ in digital advertising – January 2016

I just came back from the AdExchanger Industry Preview conference here in New York City, and while many of the presentations are still fresh in my mind, I’ve decided to write a few notes and personal considerations on the “hot topics” in the digital advertising industry as of January 2016.

  • Programmatic TV
  • Cross-device targeting, tracking, and measurement
  • Ad-blocking
  • Ad-fraud
  • New ad formats
  • Native Ads


Disclaimer 1: due to the ever-evolving, fast-paced nature of this industry, anything stated below may not be true in a few months, or even weeks.

Disclaimer 2: everything on this site is my personal opinion, and it does not represent the point of view of the company I work for etc. … you know the drill.

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The SEM branding problem (that current technology can’t solve)

Search Engine Market (SEM) has a branding problem, actually two, and big ones I may add.

The first one is that companies don’t spend the significant amount of money in SEM for branding purposes. Even though everyone can agree on the fundamental principle that users go through asearch funnel” when making a purchase (i.e. broad generic searches at first to learn more about the product category, followed by specific ones to conclude the purchase), very few digital marketers would be willing to spend money inupper funnelclicks ; this because it is harder to quantify their contribution to the final transaction, but really easy to see their (high) contribution to cost.

The second one is that no one in this space is willing to pay for what they cannot measure directly. Since the dawn of SEM, every company, technologist, and professionals in the space, based their pitch on the fact that they could finally offer to the ultimate form of trackable marketing: “the TV era is over, now you can understand and track your real contribution of your marketing dollars to the cent“. And marketers started believing it, to the point that no one would give SEM any credit for its brand value: everyone know is there, but since you can’t measure it, no one is willing to pay for it.

Photo credit of MKFeeney
Photo credit of MKFeeney

And while companies are desperate to find ways to spend additional money to move the needle marginally in one of the key constituents of branding (awareness, recall, consideration, intent), SEM is getting none of that budget. Not only that no one can accurately measure the correlation between awareness lift and sales lift, but in many cases the branding impact is given on faith. Don’t you believe me? Let me know if the following sentence sounds familiar: “This is the year of mobile, you want to reach teens, but they are leaving Facebook in droves, teens spend an enormous amount of time on mobile devices, you need to buy mobile ads.” And you do, regardless of the fact that tracking mobile ads is still very hard, surveying teens is often not allowed, and registering a lift at 90% confidence level requires volumes that very few networks offer. Since the value is there in theory, it becomes acceptable to invest. It’s the most classic example of deductive fallacy.

Why have marketers no problem accepting a high degree of uncertainty with ‘brand marketing’, but pretend absolute measurability when buying SEM?

It’s like two brain hemispheres:

  • The left one, where SEM lives together with scientists and mathematicians, can’t conceive a world that cannot be measured, analyzed, and studied in all its components;
  • The right one,  where Branding lives with artists and free spirits, things are done because they ‘feel right’, and questioning this logic means not belonging there in the first place.

Put the two together and you will have the perfect picture of the schizophrenic brain of today’s marketer.

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